Friday, July 29, 2016


I have been so engrossed in the upcoming presidential election and the police use of force issue that I may have missed this recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion on the Second Amendment.





No. 14–10078. Decided March 21, 2016


The Court has held that “the Second Amendment ex­tends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding,” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. 570, 582 (2008), and that this “Second Amend­ment right is fully applicable to the States,” McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 750 (2010). In this case, the Su­preme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld a Massa­chusetts law prohibiting the possession of stun guns after examining “whether a stun gun is the type of weapon contemplated by Congress in 1789 as being protected bythe Second Amendment.” 470 Mass. 774, 777, 26 N. E. 3d 688, 691 (2015).

The court offered three explanations to support its holding that the Second Amendment does not extend to stun guns. First, the court explained that stun guns are not protected because they “were not in common use at the time of the Second Amendment’s enactment.” Id., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 693. This is inconsistent with Heller’s clear statement that the Second Amendment “extends . . . to . . . arms . . . that were not in existence at the time of the founding.” 554 U. S., at 582.

The court next asked whether stun guns are “dangerous per se at common law and unusual,” 470 Mass., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 694, in an attempt to apply one “important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms,” Heller, 554 U. S., at 627; see ibid. (referring to “the historicaltradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and thatstun guns are “unusual” because they are “a thoroughlymodern invention.” 470 Mass., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 693–694. By equating “unusual” with “in common use at the time of the Second Amendment’s enactment,” the court’s second explanation is the same as the first; it is inconsistent with Heller for the same reason.

Finally, the court used “a contemporary lens” and found“nothing in the record to suggest that [stun guns] arereadily adaptable to use in the military.” 470 Mass., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 694. But Heller rejected the proposi­tion “that only those weapons useful in warfare are pro­tected.” 554 U. S., at 624–625.

For these three reasons, the explanation the Massachu­setts court offered for upholding the law contradicts thisCourt’s precedent. Consequently, the petition for a writ of certiorari and the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis are granted. The judgment of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent withthis opinion.
It is so ordered.
A correct and common sense result.  I can't believe that the highest state court in Massachusetts actually believed that the Second Amendment only protected weapons or arms that existed at the time the Amendment was adopted, or any of the other reasons given.  This is ludicrous attempt at judicial reasoning.  They should be embarrased It show you how anti-gun and other biases corrupt some judges, even high ranking ones and how little respect they have for precedents which they personally disagree.

Thursday, July 28, 2016



A critical biography of Pres. Geo. H.W. Bush:

“Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush,” Smith writes in the first sentence of the preface. And then he gets harsh."  Smith rejects claims that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove and others were responsible for the debacles.

A historical and unflattering story of the Olympics (The DarkSide):


According to the Dallas Morning News this small Texas Public School District ignored the rule of law and the principles of democracy and didn't hold elections for 10 years. Then, somebody blew the whistle.

"The strange case of Sidney school district's decade-long spree without an election has never been told publicly. Even most taxpayers in Comanche County, where the district with only one school campus is situated, don't know the story.
It began with an improbable anonymous complaint to the State Auditor's office about a school district that forgot democracy. The complaint was passed on to a new special investigations unit of the Texas Education Agency.
Investigators found a complete breakdown of democracy. (Here is their official report.) When nobody wanted to challenge incumbents, elections were canceled. That's allowed, but a district and candidates must file the proper paperwork. Records are important.
Nobody on the school board knew when their terms expired. They told an investigator they kept asking Superintendent Doug Bowden, but he said he would get back to them.


The grand jury clause of the Constitution, and that of many state constitutions was designed to provide citizens grand jurors as a shield against corrupt or politically or personally motivate prosecutors.  It is now run by and manipulated by police and prosecutors in too many cases.

This particular allegation of a scandal involves allegations that the prosecutor deliberately attempted to manipulate the Sandra Bland case.
"A Central Texas police officer was not allowed to testify to a grand jury about the arrest of Sandra Bland — who died in custody last year — despite witnessing the incident, an activist said Tuesday.

DeWayne Charleston, a former justice of the peace in Waller County, released a recording he made earlier this year of a conversation with Prairie View police Officer Michael Kelley, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Bland, 28, was pulled over July 10, 2015, in Prairie View and was arrested after a heated exchange with Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Brian Encinia.

She died three days after being booked into the Waller County Jail. Medical examiners ruled her death a suicide, and her death sparked national outrage.

Charleston said that, in the recorded conversation, Kelley told him that he heard Encinia say he hadn't decided what charge to book Bland on, even though he had already detained her.

"He said, 'I have no idea what I'm going to arrest her for, but we'll figure it out when we get to the county jail,'" Charleston said.

Kelley told Charleston an official at the district attorney's office threatened him with retaliation when he said he wanted to tell what he had heard.

"I wanted to testify on Sandra Bland's behalf, and they told me if I said anything they're going to come after me," he said in the recording.

Kelley also told Charleston that he submitted a written statement about Bland's traffic stop to his chief, but it was not in the official DPS report about the incident.

Charleston said the conversation indicated a cover-up by Waller County officials.

"He was a police officer on the scene," Charleston said Tuesday. "He was willing to cross the blue line."

Encinia was fired from his job and has pleaded not guilty to a perjury charge.

Kelley has been charged with official oppression in an unrelated incident stemming from his use of a Taser on a City Council member who reportedly wasn't following police instructions. A grand jury declined to indict the council member on a charge of resisting arrest."

This need to be seriously investigated--by the F.B.I. 


From the NYT Magazine

edited by blogger

“Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy,” [is] an inventive combination of narrative history and policy platform that the  Roosevelt Institute published last month. The report billed itself as a comprehensive agenda to ameliorate inequality. First, it said, inequality is a choice, not an inevitable byproduct of technology, globalization and the uneven distribution of personal virtue. Second, it held that the longstanding notion of an economic trade-off between growth and equality is a fiction.
Unlike the myriad other white papers that each week were drafted, edited, somnolently received at other think tanks and shelved without fanfare, this report — original not so much in its ideas as in its clarity and vigor — had captured wide and consequential attention." . .
The right has set the agenda for the past 35 years because they built their economic movement deductively (from the first principle of the unregulated market) and took their victories where they could find them. The left, by comparison, tended to moralize, and spoke in the language of justice instead of growth. When they did talk about economics, it took the form of individual issues — minimum wage, student debt, paid family and sick leave — rather than overarching pronouncements. This muddle worsened during the Bush era, when urgent noneconomic concerns forced the left to privilege short-term electoral tactics over long-term strategy. . . "
Roosevelt was designed to be a place, independent of the party establishment, to unite all of these factions under the banner of long-term, coherent economic thinking. Had such a movement existed in 2008, it might have seized on the financial crisis as an opportunity for structural economic reform. Obama’s recovery model, to the group’s lasting dismay, remained in thrall to old superstitions about growth. The goal of the bailout was to fix the existing financial system and get credit flowing back into the economy while keeping an eye on deficit spending. But today, though high-level macroeconomic numbers like monthly job growth or the headline unemployment rate have improved, almost half of the new jobs created in the first five years of the recovery were poverty-level. Repaired with a kludge, the system went right back to doing exactly what it did before: allowing the extraordinary concentration of power in the hands of the few to dominate the prospects of the many.
Roosevelt and its allies believe that the crisis of 2008, could have been an occasion — unseen since the New Deal — for the diffusion of authority, large-scale infrastructural investment, attention to low-wage growth and relief for the plight of overextended homeowners rather than banks. But that opportunity passed by because, in the absence of a strong, organized countervailing force, responsibility for the bailout simply defaulted to the claque of Citigroup veterans and sympathizers that had administered Democratic economic policy for what was now a full generation. The critics didn’t think that these ex-bankers were unscrupulous, but rather that they acted in accordance with the free-market orthodoxy they inherited from their predecessors.


    Texas leads the nation. According to the NYT:
      66 Deaths So Far This Year. R.I.P
    Shootings were the main cause of officer deaths for the first six months, the first time in three years in which traffic-related fatalities did not top the list, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which published an analysis of its data this week. At least 66 federal, state or local law enforcement officers have died on duty so far this year, according to a New York Times analysis of contemporaneous news reports and tallies maintained by two organizations dedicated to honoring the lives of dead officers. Sixty-three were men.The groups — the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and the Officer Down Memorial Page — arrive at different line-of-duty death tolls for the year, but neither records a substantial increase compared with the same time period a year ago.The number excludes a handful of deaths linked to causes from years past, such as the long-delayed effects of complications from vehicle crashes.


    After 3 officers were acquitted in trials without a jury, prosecutors dropped charges against the 3 remaining police defendants. The same judge who  acquitted the first three and would have been the judge for the other three.


    Remember John Hinckley and his impact on the law of the criminal insanity defense?  He's set to be released shortly.  For more see this post on my blog "

    Saturday, July 23, 2016


    The Fort Worth ISD has backed off on its bathroom policies after objections from parents and politicos.  "Transgender students in Fort Worth schools will now need their parents' input on how best to navigate schools — including which bathrooms to use, according to an updated policy announced by district officials Wednesday."
    The revised policy says parents must be aware that their children are dealing with gender identity issues if special accommodations are needed for the child. This would mean children who wish to use the bathroom of their gender identity will have to inform their parents.
    The updated guidelines are an attempt to be "more clear, concise and place trust in those most involved to find the right answers for each child," said a district news release."

    Some idiots have foolishly opposed this policy on the basis that the child will have to share information with parents and relatedly, the school will have to inform the parents if their child has trangender-related issues.  How awful, requiring students with concerns to discuss them with parents and getting parental approval, and schools sharing information about a minor with that minor's parents?

      Although I am in favor of equal protection of the law for all LGBT's, after reflection, I have come to the conclusion that the Obama administration regulation re this were too much of a knee-jerk reaction without adequate concern for local, educational and parental input. (Perhaps I failed to heed my own claim to avoid knee-jerk reponses. Too often if people is strongly disagree  (e.g. TX's Dan Patrick) with criticize something I automatically decide it has to be a good idea.)
     I basically agree with the guidelines, but we need to back off 'my-way-or the highway' approaches and get input from stakeholders, esp. parents and school personnel before making sweeping changes.  Let's try to get away from zero-sum, in-your-face, confrontational culture wars approaches and try to work out some informed compromises that take into account realities on the front lines.


    Look for the county to settle this case by offering a bundle of money so the facts don't come out. If this is all true, it is outrageous!


    Another disturbing incident  and video involving a petite black female 2nd grade school teacher and white officers in Austin, TX--a city with a reputation is being one of the most liberal in Texas.  The woman's head was almost slammed into the door of a nearby car.  Those injuries could have been horrendous.  The police chief later apologize to the woman.  The video would have remained unrevealed but for the efforts of the efforts of an Austin newspaper and TV station. Did the woman complain to officials?  Were the videos reviewed? Were these officers disciplined?  These questions need to be investigated.


    See the video and analysis of this shooting of an unarmed black man, Charles Kinsey lying on his back with his hands up.

    Most cops are honest, decent people who try to do the right thing.  Unfortunately, there are too many who don't.  This appears to be an example. These types don't need to get hired and don't need to be retained.  There needs to be some way to weed out and/or change these types before they kill or seriously injury someone. There needs to be some radical changes in police culture and police-community relations (See some recommendations in post below). The officer who shot this man  was suspended as per policy with pay.  He needs to to be criminally prosecuted.

    UPDATE (emphasis supplied)
    "Authorities in North Miami, Florida, said Friday that they had placed a second police officer on leave as part of the investigation into a police shooting there this week in which an officer shot and wounded an unarmed man.
    The second officer was placed on unpaid administrative leave because of “conflicting statements given to the investigators” looking into the shooting, Larry Spring Jr., the North Miami city manager, said at a news conference."


    Excerpts from an outstanding article from the Washington Post which is beginning to rival, IMHO, the NYT in quality.
    "Some recent shootings of black men indeed seemed avoidable, according to some members of a panel of experts assembled by The Washington Post to analyze the shootings captured on video. One common mistake, the panel said: Police failed to employ standard tactics intended to de-escalate the encounters and take suspects safely into custody.
    However, the experts also identified instances in which the officers were potentially seconds away from injury, although they may have appeared safe to the untrained eye. Understanding these nuances, the experts said, could help guide society to appropriate reforms and improve relations between police and the communities they serve."

    [Here's the experts' analysis of 5 controversial shootings. Police trainers and educators might want to use this as a resource.]

    “Sometimes everything you need to know is in the video, like the incident in South Carolina last year, where the officer shot [Walter Scott] in the back,” said David Klinger, a criminologist with the University of Missouri at St. Louis.
    “That was heinous. But a lot of times, there is a backstory we don’t know about. And the public doesn’t have the training that an officer has. There are cues and aspects to the encounter [the public] may have missed, even if there is a video. . .
    Since January 2015, The Washington Post has been tracking fatal police shootings. So far this year, police across the nation have shot and killed 534 people — a rate that is on track to match the 990 people fatally shot by police last year, according to The Post’s analysis. Video-recording of such incidents is on the rise. So far this year, 116 of the shootings have been captured on video, compared with 85 at this point last year. . .
    While activists are calling for better and more extensive training, the experts said quick changes on the ground are unlikely. For nearly a century — since the Wickersham Commission of 1929 — allegations of abusive police tactics have been quelled by forming task forces or blue-ribbon committees to study the issue.
    Those panels have produced dozens of reports, spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and produced near-identical recommendations. Six show up repeatedly in the most high-profile reports, including “Who Is Guarding the Guardians?” which was issued in 1981 by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and last year’s report from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
    The six recurring recommendations are:
    ● Adopt a community policing program. Officers should spend less time in patrol cars and more time on horse or foot patrols to increase interactions and improve communications with the communities they serve.
    ● Train and retrain all officers in de-escalation skills, such as taking cover and negotiating rather than rushing in with force.
    ● Use mock scenario or role-play exercises to teach officers when they must shoot and when to withhold fire and use less-than-lethal tactics.
    ● Increase diversity so that police departments more closely mirror the communities they serve.
    ● Communicate more effectively with the news media and the public.
    ● Improve the psychological screening of recruits.
    “We know what needs to happen next,” said Alpert, a policing expert who has written or co-authored half a dozen of these reports. “But we keep studying the question instead of doing something about the answers we’ve arrived at.”
    The lack of follow-through stems in part from the fragmented nature of American policing, Alpert and others said. The nation has 18,000 police departments. Effective reform would require state and local politicians and the many police chiefs to choose a reform plan and stick with it; that would include providing a continuous stream of funding.
    But change takes time, and half of U.S. mayors are in office for two years or less. Police chiefs serve for an average of three years. When new leadership moves in, the plans of the old guard are often tossed out."

    Thursday, July 21, 2016


    Although they have an obvious liberal and anti-gun bias, I have always trusted the integrity of the NY Times.  According to the NRA:

    The write-up of an interview Ginsburg gave to the New York Times contained the following:
    [Ginsburg] mulled whether the court could revisit its 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which effectively struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act. She said she did not see how that could be done.

    The court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, establishing an individual right to own guns, may be another matter, she said.

    “I thought Heller was “a very bad decision,” she said, adding that a chance to reconsider it could arise whenever the court considers a challenge to a gun control law.
    Curiously, the New York Times later significantly altered the part of their story pertaining to Ginsburg’s remarks on Heller, as pointed out by Jonathan Adler of the Volokh Conspiracy. The altered version removed the portion regarding Ginsburg’s contention that “a chance to reconsider [Heller] could arise whenever the court considers a challenge to a gun control law.” The Times eventually restored the missing portion of the story, but did not provide a satisfactory reason for the alteration."

    This appears to be accurate.  See this article from the Washington Post.
    "She also said Heller was a “very bad decision.” As originally posted, the story reported that Justice Ginsburg added “that a chance to reconsider it could arise whenever the court considers a challenge to a gun control law.” For whatever reason, that line was removed and no longer appears in the online version of the article. [UPDATE: The missing language on Heller has now been restored to the article.]

    To look at the changes between the 1st and 2nd version see

    Perhaps it was an innocent mistake.  Perhaps it was an attempt to protect Ginsburg.  Perhaps it was an attempt to downplay the precarious state of the Heller precedent.What is your take on this?

    Tuesday, July 19, 2016


    See this video on Hillary Clinton's e-mail scandal. It's from usually-reliable  It suggest Clinton lied to Congress.  Congress investigating this would be clearly justified and not a witch-hunt.  However, she is entitled to the presumption of innocence. See also


    I admire Obama for showing respect for slain police officers and trying to build inter-racial solidarity, but his comments on guns are sometimes out of line, if not ludicrous (see link).
    It is illegal under federal law and most, if not all state laws, for anyone under 18 to purchase a handgun.  Background checks already take care of much of this problem.  No one has come up with a workable solution to stop the black market or gun-lending for crime.  These are already crimes


    Two Washington bigwigs forgot to put their brain in gear before engaging  their mouths.  Is there anyone left in government or politics with any sense of ethics or integrity?  One severely ethically challenged former public official is likely to be the next Pres. of the U.S.

    Case number #1

    “Housing Secretary Julian Castro violated the federal Hatch Act restricting partisan political activity by federal employees when he praised Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during an interview conducted from his government office, government investigators found Monday.

    Castro is among several potential vice-presidential choices for Clinton, who will formally claim the Democratic presidential nomination next week. The telegenic young Cabinet secretary has been mentioned for months as a prospect to be Clinton’s running mate. He was among the first candidates to go through the formal process of vetting by the campaign.

    A report from the Office of Special Counsel delivered a mild rebuke to Castro for his handling of the April interview with Yahoo News. The seal of the Housing and Urban Development department was visible behind Castro as he answered questions from host Katie Couric about his support for Clinton, including his chances as running mate. (He said he did not think he would be chosen.)

    “In the end, the American people understand that she has a positive vision for the country that includes opportunity for everybody, and she can actually get it done,” Castro said at one point during the interview. He also criticized Republicans.

    The report found that Castro did not separate his role as HUD secretary well enough from his role as a Clinton supporter and referred the findings to President Obama. There was no immediate word on whether Obama planned to act on the findings."

    Castro has apologized, but this is not enough. If Obama has any integrity, he will fire Castro.  Don’t hold your breath.

    Case #2

    Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg publicly criticized Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.  This caused an uproar among many on both the left and right who felt it was unethical.  Unfortunately the provision in the federal Judicial Code of Ethics that prohibits such conduct does not apply to the Supreme Court.   Ginsburg subsequently apologized, but  Congress needs to fix this.



    With Ginsburg apology, Congress should look at the real problem

    They also have been accused of expressing political opinions. Alito was legitimately criticized in 2010 for expressing his disagreement with statements that President Obama made in a State of the Union address. Alito's shaking of his head and mouthing "not true" was viewed by many as highly inappropriate and a violation of the long-standing tradition of justices attending addresses. Former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor shocked many when she reportedly exclaimed, "This is terrible" when CBS called Florida for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. She later voted to effectively give the state (and the election) to George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore. Yet Alito was responding to a criticism of the Supreme Court for its decision in Citizens United and O'Connor's comment came in a private dinner party.

    Jonathan Turley is a law professor at George Washington University, where he teaches a course on the Constitution and the Supreme Court.


    There is no such thing as perfect government in any state.  Each has its problems, sometimes they are unique, sometimes they are common.  One of the biggest embarRassments and disgraces in Texas is the State Board of Education.  The legislature has cut its powers and now it's time to get rid of it.  Here's the latest craziness which is symptomatic of the underlying ideological and political problems that dog the state.

    Sunday, July 17, 2016


    Use of force by police is one or our crucial national issues.  See the link for a summary of, and access to, some of the research on this topic funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).  Short summaries are available and this would be a great place to start if you want to dig in to this issue.  For the widest and most recent  results click on 'access a complete list,' then 'all publications' and sort by date.


    I like to throw in some thought-provoking issues once in awhile. 
    Religion is in some sense like any other institution or even object (e.g. gun).  It can be use for good or evil.  They can display the best of our virtues or the worst of our dark side.  The problem is not all religions and all religious people. However, the Catholic Church has a very checkered history, and many Americans justify white Supremacy and denial of constitutional rights on a religious basis.  Religion has been and still is used by many to justify wars, honor killings of women, and of course, the horrendous violence of ISIS and Al-Qaeda.  Is there an approach to religion than can deal with this duality? A Rabbi writes about Judaism, but his approach to can apply to all religions.  See This review of "Putting God Second." for one author's suggestions on how to reconcile this duality.

    Feds still undecided about proecution in Eric Garner killing

     "Two years after the chokehold death of Eric Garner made "I can't breathe" a rallying cry for protests over police killings of black men, federal authorities are still grappling with whether to prosecute the white officer seen on a widely watched video wrapping his arm around Garner's neck.
    The legal limbo is playing out on the watch of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who has come under persistent pressure in the city and elsewhere to bring Officer Daniel Pantaleo to justice. The New York City case turned out to be a forerunner to a series of videotaped police killings across the country that have fueled outrage and protests.
    Before becoming attorney general, Lynch ran the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, which initiated the review of Garner's case after a state grand jury refused to indict Pantaleo in 2014, and she personally met with Garner's family in that role. Questioned by Congress last week, she said the Garner investigation remains open but gave no indication of how or when a decision will be made.
    Last year, the city agreed to pay $5.9 million to settle the family's wrongful death claim, but the push for a federal case has persisted."

    Although there are worse cases, the Garner case is one of the most egregious.  He was unarmed and police should have backed-off temporarily when her repeated his claim that he couldn't breather.  Two years is long enough to reach a decision.  Putting a presumed-innocent defendant to a criminal trial for a homicide is a serious matter.  IMHO, although the officer is entitled to the presumption of innocence at trial, a trial is warranted to get all the facts out and give us some feeling that justice has been done, no matter what the verdict.

    Saturday, July 09, 2016


    There are lots of frivolous lawsuits filed, this is one of the worst.  This case is a sure loser.   There is no law supporting their specific contentions and much to the contrary.
    "Three University of Texas at Austin professors sued their university and the state on Wednesday, claiming Texas' new campus carry law is forcing the school to impose "overly-solicitous, dangerously-experimental gun policies" that violate the First and Second Amendments.
    The professors — Jennifer Lynn Glass, Lisa Moore and Mia Carter — are asking a federal judge to grant an injunction that would block the law before the first day of class. In the suit, professors say they teach courses that touch emotional issues like gay rights and abortion. The possibility of guns on campus could stifle class discussion, which is a violation of the First Amendment, the suit says.
    "Compelling professors at a public university to allow, without any limitation or restriction, students to carry concealed guns in their classrooms chills their First Amendment rights to academic freedom," the lawsuit says. 
    The suit also cites the Second Amendment, which is usually cited by gun-rights supporters to bolster ideas like campus carry. 

    "The Second Amendment is not a one-way street," the suit says. "It starts with the proposition that a 'well-regulated militia,' (emphasis added), is necessary to the security of a free state. The Supreme Court has explained that 'well-regulated' means 'imposition of proper discipline and training.'"
    The suit adds: "If the state is to force them to admit guns into their classrooms, then the officials responsible for the compulsory policy must establish that there is a substantial reason for the policy and that their regulation of the concealed carrying of handguns on college campuses is 'well-regulated.' Current facts indicate that they cannot do so."
    The professors also claim that the law violates the 14th Amendment, which promises equal protection under the law. 
    The lawsuit is likely to be a long shot. Numerous states across the country have passed similar campus carry laws that haven't been overturned. 
    The state's campus carry law was approved last year. Starting Aug. 1, public universities will be required to allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons inside most buildings and classrooms, though some limited restrictions apply. 
    A UT-Austin spokesman said the university has received a copy of the lawsuit and is reviewing it, but has no immediate comment. The university's campus carry policies haven't been finalized. In the coming days, the UT System Board of Regents is expected to consider changes to the rules proposed by university President Greg Fenves. 
    Fenves is named in the lawsuit, but for his part opposed the rule. As the suit notes, he has publicly stated that he does not believe "that handguns belong on a university campus." 
    A spokeswoman for Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is also named in the suit, declined to comment, saying Paxton's office hasn't yet been served.
    The group Students for Concealed Carry declined to comment on what it called the "absurd" constitutional arguments raised in the suit. But Antonia Okafor, southwest regional director for the group, said in a statement that the claim that the law is "dangerously experimental" is "on its face, laughable." Campus carry has been allowed on more than 100 college campuses across the country, she said.
    "To put it in terms these professors should understand, the clinical trials are over, and campus carry has been shown to pose little risk to public safety," she said.
    Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here."

    Texas and other states sue to block feds transgender bathroom rules

    Texas and 10 other states sued to block federal regulations regarding transgender bathroom rules.  blogger comments in [ ].

    "The officials, in states from Arizona to Georgia to Texas to Wisconsin, brought the case in Federal District Court in Wichita Falls, Tex., and said that the Obama administration had “conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over common-sense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights.”

    [The regulations were not issued directly by the President, but by the U.S. Dept. of Education and Justice.  What role, if any, the President played is unclear although his approval is not formally required.  Congress has power under the 14th Amendment to legislate to protect constitutional rights and has delegate some of that power to agencies such as DOJ and DOE.  Further, states that take federal money for public education agree to abide by federal regulations.  Everyone is eager for the money, but not the rules.  This is not to say, however, that agreeing to take the money waives objections to legal remedies for unlawful federal action]

    [Similar hysterical fears, etc. were utilized to oppose racial desegregation and the ill-fated equal rights for women constitutional amendment.  It was argued that black use of public and school restrooms would spread venereal disease.  The it was argued that the equal rights amendment would allow men to use women's restrooms.  Both assertions, were, of course, false.

    However, the case now underway has  issues that make it more problematic.  Although I support accommodation of transgender people and laws to protect them against discrimination, my concerns are as follows:
    1. The regulations were issued hastily without much thought on how they would be implement and paid for in the real world.  It was unclear how safety and security problems could be handled.
    2.  There should have been an opportunity for input from the states, schools, parents, students and other stakeholders.
    3.  Parents have a right to be leery about school safety issues.
    4.  Perhaps some compromise could have been worked out that would have satisfied all parties.
    This smacks of the heavy-handedness of the feds that offends many on both the left and right. On the other hand, the situation involves individual rights of a constitutional basis which the federal government has constitutional authority to regulate.  I just think things were done too hastily. 
    What will be the final results?  Perhaps the feds will back off and try to find a compromise solution.  This would be a good approach.  However, if the case gets to the Supreme Court, I predict the states will lose.

    Here's one group's defense of the rules.  I don't know if I buy all of it, but there it is.  Here's a good article from Time looking at the debate.

    Friday, July 08, 2016


    Review of two books-0ne written from the right, one from the left.  The right wing book, IMHO is a prime example of something that should the embarrass the writers who don't appear to have much of a clue.  The left-wing writer is equally polemical, but at least has some good evidence to present.


    Believe it or not, a few conservatives, such as George Will and Charles Krauthammmer, have betrayed the constitutional part of their philosophy and called for the repeal of the Second Amendment.
    New paper on Second Amendment, available at

    Abstract below,

    The Right to Arms and the American Philosophy of Freedom

    Nelson Lund

    George Mason University School of Law

    July 5, 2016

    Heritage Foundation, First Principles [Forthcoming]
    George Mason Legal Studies Research Paper No. LS 16-29


    The right to keep and bear arms is a vital element of our liberal order, but its philosophic basis is no longer appreciated by American elites. The left rejects the understanding of politics on which our nation was founded, and conservative intellectuals have been remarkably uncomfortable with the right to arms. George Will and Charles Krauthammer, for example, have advocated repeal of the Second Amendment, and conservative pundits have generally stayed silent in the face of such attacks on the Constitution.

    People who do not understand why they should defend the right to arms are not likely to be its most effective defenders, and ignorance about the philosophy underlying our free institutions is among the least excusable failings of public intellectuals. Conservative pundits constantly complain about the erosion of individual liberty by bureaucratic government, about the enervating effects of the nanny state, and about the suffocating atmosphere of euphemisms and repressed resentment imposed by the political correctness police. If they had a better understanding of John Locke, William Blackstone, Cesare Beccaria, Alexis de Tocqueville, and every one of our founding fathers, these opinion leaders would not display an effete abhorrence of what Krauthammer calls “America’s frontier infatuation with guns.” Our nation’s founding philosophy was not infected with some silly romanticism about guns or an outmoded frontier mentality. It was based on the reality of human nature and on reason, neither of which has changed since the eighteenth century.
      Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
    Keywords: Bill of Rights, Constitution, federalism, firearms, Heller, militia, political theory, right to bear arms, Second Amendment, self-defense


    Following controversial killing of  black men by white officers on two consecutive days, protests were held across the nation.  Things turned very ugly at the Dallas protest.  Here's the updated news.

    Tuesday, July 05, 2016




    "One kept a paperweight model of an electric chair on his desk. Another boasted about being named the “deadliest prosecutor in America” by the Guinness Book of World Records and mocked defendants with intellectual disabilities. A third was dragged from the courtroom when jurors who acquitted six defendants he had charged with shooting police officers said he approached them and reached for his gun.
    These men are members of a very small club: five prosecutors who together are responsible for about one of every seven death-row inmates nationwide.
    Even as most states have moved away from capital punishment, the practice continues to be used in a tiny fraction of counties, and under the leadership of specific prosecutors, according to a new report by the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard Law School.
    The prosecutors are Joe Freeman Britt in North Carolina, Robert Macy in Oklahoma, Donnie Myers in South Carolina, Lynne Abraham in Philadelphia and Johnny Holmes in Texas. Of these five, only Mr. Myers remains in office. But during their tenures, each either secured dozens of death sentences personally or led offices that won hundreds. And each, in his or her way, embodies the vindictive, idiosyncratic nature of state-sanctioned killing.
    The five prosecutors also share a disturbing tendency to break the rules to win. Mr. Macy — the one who pulled a gun on the jury — won 54 death sentences during two decades as Oklahoma County’s district attorney. But courts overturned almost half of them, and they found him guilty of misconduct in one-third of them. Three people he sent to death row were later exonerated.
    In 2002, a federal appeals court said that Mr. Macy’s persistent misconduct “without doubt harmed the reputation of Oklahoma’s criminal justice system.”

    For more on the reports see


    An empirical study confirms the left-wing bias of most of academia  (see post below) but shows, perhaps surprisingly, that it seems to have  little effecitiveness is changing student attitudes.  Does this bias carry over into research on hot-button issues such as gun control, death penalty, etc.  Are we passing laws based on biased research results. 


    Nicholas Kristof leans strongly to the left, but he is willing to critique his own thinking and that of his liberal colleagues.  I commend him for his reflexivity, open-mindedness and refreshing lack of self-righteousness.
    "Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.
    O.K., that’s a little harsh. But consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.
    “Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”
    I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.
    “Much of the ‘conservative’ worldview consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” said Carmi.
    “The truth has a liberal slant,” wrote Michelle.
    “Why stop there?” asked Steven. “How about we make faculties more diverse by hiring idiots?”
    Continue reading the main story
    To me, the conversation illuminated primarily liberal arrogance — the implication that conservatives don’t have anything significant to add to the discussion. My Facebook followers have incredible compassion for war victims in South Sudan, for kids who have been trafficked, even for abused chickens, but no obvious empathy for conservative scholars facing discrimination.
    The stakes involve not just fairness to conservatives or evangelical Christians, not just whether progressives will be true to their own values, not just the benefits that come from diversity (and diversity of thought is arguably among the most important kinds), but also the quality of education itself. When perspectives are unrepresented in discussions, when some kinds of thinkers aren’t at the table, classrooms become echo chambers rather than sounding boards — and we all lose.
    Four studies found that the proportion of professors in the humanities who are Republicans ranges between 6 and 11 percent, and in the social sciences between 7 and 9 percent."
    Conservatives can be spotted in the sciences and in economics, but they are virtually an endangered species in fields like anthropology, sociology, history and literature. One study found that only 2 percent of English professors are Republicans (although a large share are independents).
    In contrast, some 18 percent of social scientists say they are Marxist. So it’s easier to find a Marxist in some disciplines than a Republican."
    Liberal arrogance threatens First Amendment values of freedom of speech, press and religion and Second Amendment values.  This arrognce and intolerance is clearly on display in their outbursts against gun owners and those who are politically incorrect.  It is matched only by the arrogance of the xenophobes on the right who threaten other constitutional rights.


    According to Time, The FBI found no basis for federalcriminal charges against Hillary Clinton.  The Department of Justice will make the final decision.  The situation has been clouded by the Attorney General's unscheduled meeting with Bill Clinton.  Given the politics involved, the decision is not surprising.  The whole situation reeks of conflicts of interest.  Obama will campaign with Clinton. An independent counsel should have been appointed.  We have too many ethical morons running this country.Whether or not the decision is justified by the facts and the law remains to see.  More later.