Saturday, August 30, 2014

Good paper on policing and wrongful convictions

32-page paper on policing and wrongful convictions contains suggestions for reforms.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

More left-wing hypocrisy

Most of our elite universities are dominated by Far-left administrators and faculty.  They complain about income inequality, equal opportunity, etc. but fail to deliver at their own institutions.  Another example of the hypocrisy of the far left which drove me away decades ago.  They talk the talk of helping the less-fortunate but somehow never manage to make any sacrifices.  It's the middle and lower-classes who make the sacrifices and pay the price for left-wing politically-correct policies. This is an article from the NYT, not Fox News.

Another victory against oppressive left-wing university speech policies

Left-wing political correctness has gone insane at many colleges and universities.  Thank God for FIRE which stands up for politically-incorrect students subjected to discipline for unbelievably trivial (and/or obviously constitutionally-protected) statements.  This case is another example.

Update/correction: Tom DeLay's conviction was thrown out

Art/Anon related in a comment to the post on Rick Perry's indictment that Tom DeLay's conviction after indictment by the same office that got an indictment against Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchinson was thrown out.  He was correct.  My apologies.

"DeLay was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to three years in prison, but remained free on bail pending appeal. Last year, the Texas Court of Appeals ruled the evidence was "legally insufficient" and threw out the case." Source.

Obama's DOJ Soft on Wall Street and related crime

One of the things many of us hoped Pres. Obama would do was have his DOJ crack down on Wall Street, Banking, Securities and other types of corporate and individual white-collar crime.  Although there may have been a little improvement, it still looks more like smoke-and-mirrors rather than real improvement in policy and action.    I guess even leftist Democrats are so dependent on these big boys that they can't get up the courage to really get after these offenders. 

Another Obama disappointment.  I won't criticize Obama's foreign and mid-east policies as there are apparently no policies to criticize.  Even the NYT has gone sour on Obama. 

Fed coverup and stonewalling continues on BATF's Opn Fast and Furious

You may recall BATF's disastrous Operation Fast and Furious and the cover-up and stonewalling attempts (see prior posts).  Read about the latest judicial developments.
  One thing Obama did not improve on was transparency and openness in the federal government.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More on politically motivated prosecutions: The Hutchinson case.

In a post below on the indictment of Texas governor Rick Perry by a Travis County grand jury, I mentioned the indictment of Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Sometimes a little historical perspective can be helpful.  On this topic, Wikipedia provides:

"Hutchison was elected Texas State Treasurer in 1990 and served until June 1993 when she ran against Senator Bob Krueger for the right to complete the last two years of Lloyd Bentsen's term. Bentsen had resigned in January 1993 to become Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration. Krueger had been appointed by Texas Governor Ann Richards to fill the seat until a replacement was elected.
A field of 24 candidates sought to fill Bentsen's unexpired term, in the May 1993 special election.[12] The top two vote-getters were Hutchison (593,338, or 29 percent) and Krueger (593,239, also 29 percent). Two conservative Republican congressmen, Joe Barton of Dallas (284,135 or 13.9 percent) and Jack Fields of Houston (277,560, or 13.6 percent) split pro-life voters, but even their combined totals, 561,693, would have placed neither in the runoff. A fifth candidate, Democrat Richard W. Fisher, son-in-law of Republican former U.S. Representative James M. Collins, polled 165,564 votes (8.1 percent); the remaining candidates had about 6 percent combined. Running far behind the pack was the Houston conservative political activist and former crusading journalist Clymer Wright, father of his city's 1991 term-limits initiative. Lou Zaeske, an engineer from Bryan, who in 1988 had spearheaded the English-only movement in Texas, polled barely 2,000 votes.
During the campaign Krueger charged that Hutchison was a "country club Republican" and insensitive to the feelings of minorities.[13] In January, the Houston Chronicle reported that both Hutchison and Fields had promised to serve a maximum of two six-year terms in the Senate as part of her support for term limit legislation for members of Congress. In April, the Dallas Morning News reported that Hutchison had repeated her pledge to serve only two terms in the U.S. Senate, if elected, and had also said term limits ought to cover all senators, including Senator Phil Gramm (Republican), who had been elected in 1984 and re-elected in 1990. (He would stay in the Senate until 2002.) The term-limits legislation never passed, and Hutchison has said that she would not leave the Senate in the absence of such legislation, because doing so would unilaterally hurt Texas at the expense of other states in the seniority-driven institution.
After the initial voting, most of the Barton and Fields voters switched to Hutchison, who won the runoff, 1,188,716 (67.3 percent) to 576,538 (32.7 percent). Lower turnout in the runoff resulted in a decrease in Krueger's vote total, by 17,000. Hutchison became the first woman to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate.
Following Hutchison's election in 1993, Texas has had two sitting Republican U.S. senators.

1993 indictments for misconduct as Texas Treasurer[edit]

On June 10, 1993, shortly after the special election victory, Travis County authorities, led by Democratic district attorney Ronnie Earle, raided Hutchison's offices at the State Treasury. The search was conducted without a warrant, as incident to service of the indictments in the case.[14] Subsequently, after two other grand jury indictments were thrown out, Hutchison was indicted a 3rd time [15] by a Texas grand jury in September 1993 for official misconduct and records tampering. Hutchison stated that she was the innocent victim of a politically motivated prosecutor. Earle acknowledged that he had sought appointment by Democratic Governor Ann Richards, to the same U.S. Senate seat which Hutchison was ultimately elected to, but he has denied that his legal actions against Hutchison were politically motivated.[16] The case against Hutchison was heard before State District Judge John Onion in February 1994. Pre-trial motions included a Motion to Quash evidence Earle obtained without a warrant when raiding the Treasurer's office. During pre-trial proceedings, the judge did not rule on admissibility. Following the lack of a ruling, Earle declined to proceed with his case.[14] Onion swore in a jury and directed the jury to acquit Hutchison, since Earle chose not to present evidence.[14] The acquittal barred any future prosecution of Hutchinson."

I am  not a fan of  Republican House Majority leader Tom DeLay who was also indicted in Travis County and convicted.  His conviction is on appeal.  Sometimes this office in Travis County may work successfully  without partisan bias.    For more on this case see Wikipedia.

Armed officers need to be required to be wearing cameras

There is no easy answer to the problem of unjustified deadly force used by police and the violence that often results when an unarmed, or apparently unarmed, black citizen is killed by police in questionable circumstances.  However, as the Ferguson, MO and other examples show, when the facts are seriously in dispute or unknown (or concealed by authorities), civil disorder frequently results.  As others have suggested, what we need is a requirement that all armed officers wear a camera also  with audio capacity.  Police CARS now routinely have such equipment in many jurisdictions and it is a widely accepted practice by  police, the "experts"  and public.    Some agencies are already doing it with their officers.  It needs to be a requirement for ALL armed officers.  Each state should mandate this, and a funding mechanism needs to be established.  If an officer kills or seriously injures anyone, the audio and video should be released quickly to the public and media.   It might deter officers from all sorts of misdeeds and quick release of the video and audio might prevent civil disorder.  This type of evidence will help us make more accurate determinations of whether or not this officer needs to be exonerated or  disciplined, sued and/or criminally punished.  Of course, it is possible that the audio and video may show police abuse and trigger disorder.  However, hopefully, police will be able to anticipate trouble and be prepared if their review before the mandatory and prompts release shows serious problems.   However, I think overall, the effect would be  very beneficial.

Serious about reducing gun crime? Enforce existing laws!

Although I dislike the NRA’s keen jerk reaction against most, if not all, gun control proposals.  I think I understand their logic.  After every atrocity involving a gun, there are calls for new controls.  Some of these controls are enacted.  After the next round of atrocities the cry is that we need more gun control.  New controls are enacted which don’t work and the cycle continues to squeeze Second Amendment rights.  These laws are obeyed only by honest, law abiding citizens who may suffer a diminution of their rights and abilities to defend themselves and their families.  Too often the real problem, which is failure to enforce existing laws, is ignored.  Enforcement cost money and it’s cheaper for politicians to pretend that just one more law, enforced or not, will help solve the problem.  Another example of politicians playing the “let’s pretend” game.  Many citizens naively think laws are self-enforcing and that criminals care about conforming to gun control laws.

Excellent examples of non-enforcement involve state and federal laws which deprive convicted domestic violence offenders and subjects of family violence orders from possessing firearms.  A number of courts have found that these laws do not violate the Second Amendment.  However, as in Dallas, little or nothing is done to disarm these people.  After the Dallas Morning News published a report about non-enforcement, Dallas County (TX) finally came up with a plan.   However, is assigning one part-time Sheriff's deputy enough.? I doubt it.  It sounds like another case of when being confronted with an egrergious failure, government officials play the "let's pretend" that obviously insufficient funding and staffing will solve the problem.

Supreme Court protecting bad cops and poor leadership?

This article in the NYT argues that the Supreme Court has made it too difficult to collect damages against abusive cops and irresponsible municipalities and counties for civil rights violations  I have taught a graduate course on this topic and would agree that municipalities and counties have gotten too much slack.  With regard to individual officer liability, I don't know.  Officers faced with fast-moving, often ambiguous situations potentially life threatening situations and  with little or no time to prepare or evaluate, may often be doing the best they can.  Unfortunately, the public usually only hears about the obviously wrong and questionable decisions made by officers.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New research casts doubt on gun control policies.

Gun control in a free society cannot and will not reduce crime.  It may disarm those who  need arms for lawful self defense. See this recent article. Thanks to Prof. Joseph Olson for the link.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

U.S. District Court rules that AR-15's not protected by Second Amendment

Another bad 2nd Amend. decision   This is another aspect of the Second Amendment that needs to be clarified ASAP by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How long is too long for a traffic stop?

When does a legitimate traffic stop become an unlawful detention/arrest?  Great article from Findlaw.

TX Gov Rick Perry Indicted; case is legally and factually unsupportable--a politcal move

I am not a fan of Texas governor Rick Perry.  It is hard to imagine any scenario where I would vote for him for President.  However, the indictment handed down against him by a grand jury in one of Texas' few liberal-dominated cities, Austin, is a travesty, and symptomatic of a serious lack of integrity.
The theory behind the indictment is as follows:

"A Travis County grand jury on Friday charged Perry with two felony counts, abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant, after he vetoed funding for a county office that investigates public corruption

"The case stems from Perry's erasing [line-item vetoing] $7.5 million in state funding last year for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit. He did so after District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, [who heads the unit] rejected his calls to resign after her drunken driving conviction. . ..

The dispute between Perry and Lehmberg is at the center of the grand jury investigation. In April 2013, Lehmberg was arrested on a charge of drunken driving and the videotape of her belligerent conduct while being booked into the jail was made public.
Tests showed her blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit. A blood-alcohol content that is twice the legal limit — 0.15 or above — is a Class A misdemeanor, subject to a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Perry made it clear in public statements and through emissaries that he didn’t believe the state should fund an office headed by someone who had lost the public’s trust.
At the time, the Public Integrity Unit, which investigates and prosecutes public corruption and malfeasance, was examining one of Perry’s signature projects — the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
If she had resigned, Perry would have appointed her replacement.
By the time of the veto, Lehmberg had pleaded guilty to DWI, fulfilled her 45-day sentence and completed a treatment program. She refused to quit but said she would retire after she completed her term.
Perry’s office continued to negotiate with her after the veto, pledging to restore money to the unit if she stepped down.
The allegations of criminal wrongdoing were first filed by Craig McDonald, director of the nonprofit campaign watchdog group Texans for Public Justice.
McDonald has maintained that using veto threats to try to make another elected official leave was gross abuse of office.
“The grand jury decided that Perry’s bullying crossed the line into lawbreaking,” he said Friday. “Any governor under felony indictment ought to consider stepping aside.”

The governor has authority under the Texas Constitution to use such a veto.  His motives do not appear to be laudable. Arguably he was attempting to squelch an investigation of possible corruption.  On the other hand, shouldn't Lehmberg have resigned?  I think so. 
Many would say that this appears to be  Texas hard-ball politics as usual.  However, ethically questionable moves and hardball politics are not crimes when the "perp" has authority under the state constitution to do what he did.   If they were, most politicians would be in jail. Perry did everything in the open.  Nothing was hidden. No money changed hands. 
 But if we were looking at motives, what were the grand jury's and prosecutor's motives?  As stated by one supporter of the indictment, the governor should step aside. Texas is in the midst of a hardball campaign for governor.  Perry is not running again, but this indictment helps smear the Texas Republican Party.  This indictment is a serious problem if Perry decides to run for President again.  I do not approve of Perry's tactics, but I also do not approve of this sham prosecution.

Did the corruption investigation end? No,  Travis county's Democratic-dominated came up with $ 1.8 million to continue the investigation.

Two wrongs (Perry's and the grand jury's) do not make a right.  The legal basis for this indictment is untenable.  The Dallas  Morning News naively opined that the indictment must be good because a group of citizens approved it.  People familiar with how the system really works know that prosecutors control the grand jury and can get just about anything they want out of the grand jury they essentially control.  Too many grand jurors just want to get home ASAP and rubber-stamp whatever the prosecutor wants. 

The Travis County corruption unit has gone after two prominent Republicans before.  Former  Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson was acquitted. Former Republican former Congressman Tom DeLay was indicted and convicted but his case is still on appeal. Don't get me wrong, we need more indictments of politicians.  Republican domination at all levels of state government in Texas  is not a healthy situation. Corruption is rampant as it is in most states.  However, we need winnable prosecutions, not political grandstanding.   Political polarization is corrupting American politics and legal proceedings  to ever greater depths.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

No leniency for white collar offenders!

A number of people are calling for more lenient sentences for white-collar offenders after penalties for non-violent drug-offenders were eased.  Irrespective of the merits of that move, white-collar offenders are currently under-prosecuted and under-punished.  Unlike most drug offenders,   they often have the best defense attorneys money can buy and resources for investigation.  They can use this to squeeze sweet-heat deals out of many prosecutors. There is nothing wrong with defendants doing this, but we need more deterrence of white-collar, banking and Wall Street crime, not less.  Finally most white-collar offenders serve their time in "country-club" and minimum security prisons.  Most drug offenders are not given that advantage.  That policy makes sense in some cases, but weakens the deterrent effect on white-collar offenders.

Federal judge arrested, loses docket

According to the NYT:
"A federal judge who was arrested after he was accused on Saturday of assaulting his wife will not be assigned any new cases for now. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday, also said that cases already on the docket of the judge, Mark E. Fuller, would be moved before other judges. Judge Fuller, of the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, was charged with battery after the police were called to a luxury hotel in Atlanta." As you might imagine/hope arrests of federal judges are extremely rare.

Dumbing down higher ed

Dumbing down American higher education from expensive, elite schools, to those on the bottom of the scale fosters educational fraud and limits human potential and growth.  Excerpts from  a great article by Catherine Campbell about why grade inflation abounds.

"The most convincing theory comes from Stuart Rojstaczer, a retired Duke geophysicist who has collected oodles of grading data. He blames the “emergence of a consumer-based culture in higher education.” As students are forced to pay more and more for a degree, they feel more entitled to high grades. They then pressure professors to weaken standards. Supporting this thesis is the fact that GPAs tend to be more inflated at private schools, where tuition is higher, even after controlling for selectivity.
Sites such as may also play a role, as easier grading tends to encourage better student feedback. Adjuncts in particular need favorable student evaluations to get rehired.
Plus, academic departments have learned that lenient grading can attract more majors, and thereby earn them more faculty hiring slots.
In other words, A’s have become a more valuable currency in higher ed, even as, paradoxically, their value on a transcript has been inflated away."

Gridlock or democracy and separation of powers?

Americans who are used to the feds creating a program to solve every problem and put extra cash in their pockets complain about gridlock. Some gridlock can be harmful, wasteful and insensitive to humanitarian values.  Others argue that it's sometimes the inevitable result of our constitutional structure.   Law Professor Eric Posner's dangerous drivel is symptomatic of the lack of concern for our constitutional system.

Great quote about rioting and looting; Mo. guv declares state of emergency in Ferguson

"National NAACP President Cornell William Brooks implored residents to “turn your anger into action” while condemning the violent response to Brown’s death.
“To sneak around under the cover of darkness, to steal, to loot, to burn down your neighborhood — this does not require courage,” he said. “Courage is when you strive for justice.”
“Martin Luther King did not live and die so that we may steal and lie in the middle of the night,” he added."

Meanwhile, Missouri's governor declared a state of emergency in Ferguson and ordered a curfew. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

More violent protests over police killing of unarmed black youth

Things have still not cooled down in Ferguson MO where protests over the police slaying of an unarmed black youth have turned violent.  The FBI is investigating the death.  Let's hope this isn't a spark that will ignite more massive and widespread violence. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Kelling defends "broken windows" policing

Along with the late James Q. Wilson, George L. Kelling is one of the authors of the broken windows theory of crime and policing.  Kelling defends the theory in this article (excerpts below).

"Today, controversy over their metaphorical “broken windows” theory is reverberating again after Eric Garner, a Staten Island man, died of a chokehold last month while being taken into custody for illegally selling cigarettes.
Critics denounce the theory as neoconservative pablum resulting in overpolicing and mass incarceration for relatively minor offenses that disproportionately target poor, black and Hispanic people. Moreover, they say it was not derived from scientific evidence and its connection to the city’s drastic decline in major crime remains unproven."
Part of Kelling's response:
"While he was aware of how loitering laws were used to contain and exploit blacks in the South, he said it was only logical that with black and Hispanic New Yorkers suffering the highest rates of victimization and fear of crime, targeting high-crime areas would produce a disproportionate share of black and Hispanic arrests.
“It’s not the police’s fault,” he said. “It’s not whites that are terrorizing those neighborhoods; it’s African Americans.”
And broken-windows policing produces another benefit beyond reducing crime, Professor Kelling added: “In an urbanized society, in a world of strangers, civility and orderliness is an end in itself.”

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Finally coming to grips with the rip-offs of college athletes

Big time college sports is a billion dollar money maker for universities.  Head coaches get ridiculously high multi-million dollar yearly salaries.  Athletes were forced to sign away their right to use of their images.  Although they helped generate millions of dollars, the schools and NCAA made them settle for scholarships. The were exploited shamelessly. They were entitled to scholarships and a lot more. In an all-too-familiar sceniario, The courts  have had to step in to start righting this wrong.  In addition to a ruling that they were entitled to be paid for their images and another that athletes at Northwestern must be allowed to unionize, the NCAA has changed some of its rules. Appeals are likely to delay the process and, as usual, justice delayed is justice denied.

Rethinking abortion rights?

As a cautions libertarian I have supported a broad right to abortion.  However, there are libertarians who on both sides of the issue. Ayn Rand declared fetuses have no rights.  Ron Paul declared that the movements bedrock "nonaggression" principle applies to fetuses.  The theory is that fetuses are human beings and have natural law and human rights.  They are, after all, humans who have not yet been born.  They deserve to be protected.  The Supreme Court has said that are not "people" or "persons" for the purpose of constitutional rights. Fetuses seem to meet this definition.  However, because abortion was not an issue for the Founding Fathers and those who ratified the Constitution and Bill of Rights, we cannot be sure what they would have said on the issue.  I'm still not sure where I come out on this issue.  I have always been favorably disposed to the under-dog and the powerless. Fetuses seem to meet this definition. What do you think?

Obama admits he blew it with Libya; We neeed to interene against ISIS?

Accprding to the NYT:
"Mr. Obama offered his justifications for his latest use of military force in Iraq while lamenting the outcome of a similar decision he made to intervene militarily in Libya in 2011. He defended the desire to help oust the Libyan dictator, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, with American air power, but he acknowledged that he had “underestimated” the chaos that would follow after American forces left."

Presidents have made bad choices over the years. Intervening on false premises, not anticipating the likely negative outcomes, and being slow to react when there was real justification.  A good case can be make for more massive U.S. intervention against ISIS.  This is a bloody-thirsty genocidal group that anyone with a humanitarian lean knows has to be stopped.  Don't these massive, unjustified human rights violations need to be stopped?

Murder charges against Hinckley after death of Jim Brady?

As you may recall, Reagan's Press Secretary Jim Brady was the most seriously wounded victim of Hinckley's attempt to assassinate Pres. Reagan. Shot in the head, he never rcovered and was seriously disabled. Afther his recent death a coroner ruled  his death a homicide.  Some speculate that the government may now go afer Joohn Hinckleky with murder charges.  There are a number of serious legal and factual issues that will probably gett in the way of the pproseuction.  Stay tuned.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Fed up with corporate, Wall Street, and special interest coddling by government (edited/corrected version)

It's time to take some shots at a lot of people on the Right, conservatives, Republicans,  etc. Many people in this country, including yours truly, are getting sick and tired of coddling corporate America (e.g., G.M ignition lock travesty, ,lowering tax bills by by moving their legal address overseas,  sweetheart/crony massive cost-overrun contracts, tolerating consumer ripoffs, etc.), Wall Street (too many slaps on the wrist, not enough serious sanctions) and special interests in general.  I'm not opposed to corporations having certain constitutional rights, but, when the rights and strong legitimate interests of others are trampled, it is a travesty.  Consumers need to be protected from dangerous and addictive products and activities.  The "big tobacco scandal" of hiding the known addictive effects of tobacco, GM's ignition lock outrage,  and the Bhopal incident are examples.
.Both parties are guilty but the Republicans seem to be the most flagrant and unapologetic.  I do applaud some of the efforts that Obama has made or tried to make in this direction.
With regard to the economic inequality issue, lines need to be drawn  Some economic inequality is justifiable.  However, when government discriminates it's time to take a closer look.  One of the most obvious examples is the agricultural worker exclusion from overtime pay.  This is unjust and an obvious violation of equal protection.  However, the courts have upheld this as the Supreme Court uses minimal (pseudo) scrutiny for economic regulations when challenged under equal protection.  This is an injustice, among many  that should not be tolerated.

Ever heard of "National Day of Johns Arrests?"

Cracking down on the sex trade.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Treat guns just like cars? A Rebuttal

Good response to another NYT anti gun-rights article arguing for treating gun ownership, like care ownership, etc.  The biggest point is that gun ownership is specifically, constitutionally protected (Second Amendment) and there is a natural law and statutory right to self-defense.  There are no such protections for car ownership, use, etc.  Of course the constitution is irrelevant to the NYT folks.

Article on banning firearms and homicide and suicide rates

This previously published  article by Kates and Mauser, concludes that banning firearms would have little effect on murder and suicide rates. Some of you may already be familiar with it, but it's a good piece of research and review. 

Friday, August 01, 2014

Government mortgaging the future. A bill to foster transparency.

Corruption, vote-buying and reckless spending create massive, unimaginable debt levels.  However, we are only mortgaging the future and upcoming generations will pay a terrible price.  A bill introduced in Congress will help provide more transparency.  Don't count on it passing.  The folks in Congress only care about the next election.

Character, another politically incorrect factor in the inequality debate

Going back to income inequality and human capital, character plays a large, but politically incorrect role in a person's human capital  Research shows that character is important.  Racism, sexism, discrimination,   oppression, corporate-domination, etc. are the Left's favorite theories.  Character is conveniently ignored.  The Right focuses on incentives, regulatory barriers, etc.  Character is not easy for government to influence. It can help parents work on the problem.  Perhaps the educational system can help. Dumbing everything down does not help.   Making sure every competitor gets an award does not help.