Sunday, April 09, 2017


Don't forget, fake news also comes from the left (not just the political rights (e.g. Breitbart)
This from

"Q: Did all eight Supreme Court justices write a letter opposing Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to fill a court vacancy?
A: No. That false claim was made on a liberal website that misrepresented a court ruling regarding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act."

I despair for the future of our country.  Die-hards on both the left and right are locked into their echo chambers and both live in opposing  delusional worlds.  You think political polarization is bad now? You ain't see nothin' yet.

Saturday, April 08, 2017


I agree with this editorial by the New York Times (which the President has called 'fake news')
"There is no need to reopen the Obama Justice Department’s painstaking investigations of nearly two dozen police departments accused of widespread abuse, or the court-enforced agreements the department reached requiring cities like Cleveland, Seattle and Ferguson, Mo., to enact reforms. When Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested that he might back away from those agreements, he was playing to police officers who have bristled at calls to root out racist and unconstitutional practices that have been well documented by the Justice Department."

If you look back at American history, the local and state police were the main enforcement arm of white supremacy and Jim Crow.  It is naive to think that white supremacy is dead in the U.S.  Sessions' and the adminstration's approach appeal to white supremacists and others who think that police brutality helps keep the poor and blacks in their places.  Perhaps this is the Trump version of Nixon's 'southern strategy.'

The court orders in the 'pattern and practice' lawsuits are one of the few reform mechanisms that have a chance to clean up the police.  Research shows that these settlements can be effective although there tends to be backsliding once court supervision ends and the agency returns to its prior approaches.


Neil Gorsuch was confirmed as a Supreme  Court Justice.  He was very well qualified.  He will probably not be a decisive force on the Court as it is one conservative (Gorsuch) replacing another conservative, the late Anonin Scalia.  Justice Kennedy will be the swing vote in most close cases, as he has been for decades.  Kennedy can choose to join the 4 conservatives, or the 4 liberals, to get a majority.  Justices have been know to disappoint the Presidents who appointed them by switching their approach.  More conservative justices have moved left than liberal justices have moved to the political right.

About the only thing that seems clear about Gorsuch's generally conservative philosophy is his opposition to the "Chevron deference."
"Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s jurisprudence is his opposition to “Chevron deference”: the doctrine (first imposed by a 1984 Supreme Court decision) that requires judges to defer to administrative agencies’ interpretations of federal law in most cases where the law may be “ambiguous” and the agency’s position seems “reasonable.” In what is probably his best-known opinion, Judge Gorsuch denounced Chevron deference as “a judge-made doctrine for the abdication of the judicial duty.”  It is also argued that the doctrine impinges on the legislative power.  "Chevron deference allows the executive (an administrative agency in the executive branch) to usurp the power of Congress as well as that of the judiciary. Only the legislature is supposed to have the power to make law under our constitutional system."

 It's not quite that simple.  If Congress disagrees with an agency policy it can pass legislation to supersede the agency policy.  Congress retains ultimate control. Legislation supersedes regulations.  If the President vetoes the bill, Congress can override it.  With regard to judicial power, the courts maintain the power to strike down administrative regulations which go beyond the powers of Congress or otherwise violate the Constitution.   Interpreting statutes to determine whether an agency is complying with legislative mandates if ultimately a judicial function.  However, the courts have the final say no matter what. A clever judge can always beat the doctrine by asserting that the statute is not ambiguous (by interpreting legislative history to support the judges assertion) and that the agency position appears unreasonable.  "Reasonableness" and '"ambiguous" are very slippery concepts.  Judges who like the agency policy, love the doctrine.  In general, when agency policies move to the left the conservative judges howl and hate the Chevron doctrine. Conservatives tend to hate the doctrine more than liberals when agencies create liberals policies.   Liberal policies were pushed by Obama and his agency heads. Thus conservatives are on the warpath.  When they (either liberals or conservatives) don't like the policy, they hate the doctrine.  It all depends on whose ox is being gored.  IMHO, these criticisms of the Chevron doctrine are making a mountain out of a molehill and border on the naive if not the disingenuous.

"In less than two weeks, the justices will take up a Missouri church's claim that the state is stepping on its religious freedom. It's a case about Missouri's ban on public money going to religious institutions and it carries with it potential implications for vouchers to attend private, religious schools.
Other cases the court could soon decide to hear involve gun rights, voting rights and a Colorado baker's refusal to design a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding. Some of those cases may come up April 13, which could be Gorsuch's first private conference — where justices decide whether to hear a case. It takes four votes to do so, though the court does not generally announce each justice's decision"
The same-sex wedding cake case should be extremely interesting and a much needed precedent to help settle these types of very controversial cases.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


The Texas legislature is considering a supposed 'constitutional carry' change to current gun laws.  Currently one must obtain a license, which includes a training component requirement.  This license permits both open and concealed carry.  The new proposal would allow anyone who is not in the prohibited classes (e.g. convicted felons) to carry without any license or any firearms training. 
How many  people who don't want to spend the time or money to get a license, or fear they may be denied a license are going to take advantage of this.  How many of them will be able to find and read the statute specifying who is not eligible?  How many people who shouldn't be carrying for a variety of reasons, will start carrying?  This may work, but I think it deserves more study, a thorough unbiased review of the research and carefully thinking out all the details.  The Texas legislature generally does not have a good reputation in this regard.  The problems and complexity for both law enforcement and carriers have not bee adequately analyzed.

If you have followed this blog you know I am a very strong advocate of gun owner/carrier rights.  I am a strong advocate for all constitutional rights and generally expanding freedom of choice in most areas of life.  I am a gun owner and have a carry permit.  I think the current system is working very well.  Let's think about this new proposal a little longer.   I am familiar with the research on carrying, etc. and there are still too many unanswered questions.v Remember, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. .  Pushing gun rights radically beyond constitutional requirements without a good understanding of the dynamics and a few high publicity incidents could turn the public against gun rights.

What the constitutional carry folks seem to be missing  is the fact that no constitutional right is absolute.  They need to study the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Heller and McDonald re the scope of Second Amendment rights.

This problem is analogous to the Left's push to legalize marijuana.  It is moving too fast and there is not enough good research yet on the possible negative effects of such legalization.  Further, there is no fundamental constitutional right to grow, possess or use marijuana. 

Freedom is a good thing, but we need to remember that there needs to be limits to protect the public, esp. children, and that no rights are absolute.  Anarchy is not the solution.


The kind of legislation we end up with regard to the problems of poverty, including lack of health care, largely depend on the attitudes of politicians and the public. Below are excerpts from an excellent essay [parentheticals by blogger].

We are a nation deeply divided on how best to address poverty  .On one side are folks, like me [usually liberals], who feel that a civil, caring society has a moral responsibility to fund anti-poverty programs. On the other side [usually hard-core conservatives and pro-business libertarians] are people who argue that it’s unfair that a share of their income — through taxation — subsidizes various federal and state entitlement programs that help people who became poor because they made irresponsible decisions.”  [Taxation is a form of theft].

The author shared some of the negative responses to her position.  Some of these are below [parentheticals by blogger].

●“Life is about choices. One does not ‘fall into poverty.’ One walks into it with open arms.” [People choose to be poor? People who make bad decisions get what they deserve?]

●“It is hard to determine exactly what type of economic obligation you believe people should be subject to with regards to the poor. Do you believe we are obligated to be ‘financial slaves’ of the poor? Success from hard work is the reward God gives us for our hard work and our personal responsibility. It is not a privilege. Poverty caused by irresponsibility is the reward from God for a life foolishly lived. There is nothing wrong with having mercy and being charitable to irresponsible persons. But we have no obligation to reward another person’s negligence by turning our assets over to that person.”  [Paying taxes to support anti-poverty programs is a form of financial slavery? Poverty is God’s punishment, affluence is God’s reward for being responsible? Hard-working, responsible people are God’s favorites, he rewards them?]

●“Unfortunately, what we have today is no longer charity. It is a government that forcefully takes money from one (productive) person and gives it to another (unproductive) person.”

There is just so much to unpack in these comments. But there’s one assumption running through them all that is incorrect: Empathy does not equal endorsement.”

First, poverty sometimes is the result of bad choices and irresponsibility.  Sometimes it is not.  Poor teens having an illegitimate child at an early age is one of the strongest predictors of poverty for her and her children.  Here’s a hypothetical. A 14-year old girl who has not been taught the facts of life gets pregnant.  She has no support from her family or lover and drops out of school to care for her child.  At 16 she is seduced by an older, handsome man who promises to marry her, and becomes pregnant again.  He abandons her.  She and her children live a life of poverty.  She has religious objections to abortion.  Did God intend to punish her and the children?  The mother cannot afford medical care, and the legislature has cut back on medical assistance.  The children are chronically sick and regularly miss school.  The most successful role models in the neighborhood are drug dealers, pimps, and sharp-dressed, attractive prostitutes.  Her children grow up in a high-crime ghetto and attend abysmal public schools.  Refusal to join a gang will result in serious injury and death  They are psychologically abused by their mother.  Some kids in this situation will make it, most will not.  Did God intent to punish these children?

Although there are many generous private citizens and private foundations, they cannot really make a big dent in the problem of poverty.  Government programs are the only solution, if one has empathy or sympathy for the poor.  However, empathy and sympathy sometimes encourage us to make personal sacrifices for others.  We have many selfish, narcissistic and or racist people who look for excuses not to sacrifice for others less fortunate than they are.  You’ve seen some of these excuses above.  What we are really seeing is a form of ‘class supremacy,’ which is analogous to ‘racial supremacy’.  The poor are inferior, they are being punished by God, etc.  When you add class supremacy to white (Western European origin) supremacy, it is a powerful force.

How many politicians and poverty program opponents send their kids to failing inner-city schools.?  How many politicians and poverty program opponents live in gang-dominated neighborhoods where gun shots are common?  Do you get the picture?  Greed, selfishness, bias and prejudice and worship of Mammon rule too many people’s lives, but the put up smoke screens to hide this.  Supporters of slavery came up with many ‘justifications.’  The dark side to human nature marches on.




Huxley "began “Brave New World” as a parody of H.G. Wells, whose writing he detested, and it remained a book that means to be as playful as it is prophetic. And yet his novel much more accurately evokes the country we live in now, especially in its depiction of a culture preoccupied with sex and mindless pop entertainment, than does Orwell’s more ominous book, which seems to be imagining someplace like North Korea.                 

Or it did until Donald Trump was inaugurated. All of a sudden, as many commentators have pointed out, there were almost daily echoes of Orwell in the news, and “1984” began shooting up the Amazon best-seller list. The most obvious connection to Orwell was the new president’s repeated insistence that even his most pointless and transparent lies were in fact true, and then his adviser Kellyanne Conway’s explanation that these statements were not really falsehoods but, rather, “alternative facts.” As any reader of “1984” knows, this is exactly Big Brother’s standard of truth: The facts are whatever the leader says they are. If you’re a rereader, thumbing through your old Penguin paperback, those endless wars in “1984,” during which the enemy keeps changing — now Eurasia, now Eastasia — no longer seem as far-fetched as they once did, and neither do the book’s organized hate rallies, in which the citizenry works itself into a frenzy against nameless foreigners. Even President Trump’s weirdly impoverished, 12-year-old’s vocabulary has an analogue in “1984,” in which Newspeak isn’t just the medium of double talk; it’s a language busily trying to shed itself of as many words (and as much complexity) as possible." (emphasis supplied)
See both essays at


Maricopa County's colorful and controversial Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, lost the last election and has  been replaced.  His 'tent city' for inmates is coming down.

Friday, March 24, 2017


No matter who is in the White House, we need to be vigilant to curb presidential powers and strengthen separation of powers.  Trump's toady Nunes is an example of the weakening of separation of powers.

Nunes has now changed his tune, and apologize to his committee.

Will someone please tutor this guy on separation of powers, conflicts of interest, etc.

Nunes is an embarrassment to Congress.  Where do they find these people?

Related item on S.Ct. cutting back on Pres. power re temporary appointments.

 Over the last century-and-half we have seen a dangerous strengthening of the President's powers.  It doesn't matter who is in the White House.

Some of the Republicans in Congress need to decide whether their loyalty is to Trump or the Constitution and ethical standards.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


"If he is confirmed, Mr. Sessions, who is considered one of the most conservative members of the Senate, will most likely push for wholesale changes and hard-line stances on immigration, terrorism, crime, drugs and guns. Democrats fear he could wipe away progress in civil rights, changes in sentencing and police accountability."

This is the same man who lied to Congress about any meetings with Russians.

If you are female, black, LGBT, and pro-choice on abortion, watch out.
Reforms that help reduce police use of force, corruption, etc. imposed by federal judges under "Pattern and Practice"  lawsuits may disappear.   The primary beneficiaries of these decrees were  blacks.

Sessions later announced that he would cut back on litigation designed to lessen excessive force and other forms of abuse.
t's sad the conservatives would rather defend corruption than endure change, esp. when the beneficiaries of change didn't vote for you. Another example of 'reward your supporters and punish you enemies.


Here's the first of the tweets that started the current controversy.
‘‘How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”-President Trump, tweet, March 4, 2017

There were later tweets dealing with the same claims.

There are a number of disturbing things about this tweet.
1.  I doubt any prior President has gone public with such a negative message about his predecessor.  He could have made his point without the bad or sick references.  This show a lack of respect and a lack of class and commitment to civil discourse in a democracy.  Trump has refused to apologize.  Does this sound a little paranoid?

2.  The information apparently came from Breitbart news and/or some conservative talk-show.  No one of reasonable caution would rely on those kinds of source to make these accusations.  Trump and his spokespeople have refused to make public the source of their information.  It does not appear to have come from the NSA, CIA or FBI.  This is immature, class and irresponsible.  He easily could have checked with those agencies.
Thus far no source  or confirming evidence have been found by the Senate Judiciary committee. Some Republicans in Congress have been critical of the President.

3.  Now Trump is claiming, without any supporting evidence, that British Intelligence carried out the wiretapping.
"WASHINGTON — President Trump provoked a rare public dispute with America’s closest ally on Friday after his White House aired an explosive and unsubstantiated claim that Britain’s spy agency had secretly eavesdropped on him at the behest of President Barack Obama during last year’s campaign.
Livid British officials adamantly denied the allegation and secured promises from senior White House officials never to repeat it. But a defiant Mr. Trump refused to back down, making clear that the White House had nothing to retract or apologize for because his spokesman had simply repeated an assertion made by a Fox News commentator. Fox itself later disavowed the report."

4.  The source for the claim against the British came for a Trump supporter at Fox and was later disavowed by Fox
"The saga began on Tuesday on “Fox & Friends,” the chummy morning show, where Mr. Napolitano made a bizarre and unsupported accusation: Citing three unnamed sources, he said that Britain’s top spy agency had wiretapped Mr. Trump on behalf of President Barack Obama during last year’s campaign.
Cable news blather, especially at that hour, usually vanishes at the commercial break. But on Thursday, Mr. Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, repeated the claim from the White House podium, infuriating British officials.
On Friday, Fox News was forced to disavow Mr. Napolitano’s remarks. “Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary,” the anchor Shepard Smith said on-air. “Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, any way. Full stop.”

Friday, March 17, 2017


THE settlement of Beit El . . . sits on a lonely hilltop deep inside the West Bank, between the river Jordan and the Green Line that divided Israel from its Arab foes after a ceasefire in 1949. Built on private land seized by the Israeli army in the name of security in 1970 but soon made available for settlement by Israeli civilians, it has grown into a community of 6,500 people, including 350 students at its yeshiva (Jewish religious academy). What is left of an old perimeter fence stands rusting; a new one, drawn much wider, surrounds a larger and still growing Beit El. . . .
Donald Trump has called peace between Israel and Palestine the “ultimate deal”. He has asked his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to work on it. But as Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, prepares to fly to Washington to meet the president on February 15th, peace seems farther off than ever. Since Mr Trump’s inauguration, Mr Netanyahu’s government has approved 6,000 new homes in existing settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. On February 6th, the Knesset passed a law legalising in some cases settlers’ homes illegally built on private Palestinian property.  . .
Mr Trump, so the builders reckon, looks unlikely to put much pressure on Israel to hold back. Indeed, he gave $10,000 to Beit El in 2003. His proposed new ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is president of the American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva association. Israel’s settlers could not wish for a more sympathetic envoy, or a more sympathetic president. The occupation of the West Bank is 50 years old in June, and shows no sign of ending.  . .
That suits the cautious Mr Netanyahu well. His strategy for the past eight years has been to do nothing: to go on paying a degree of lip-service to the idea of the “two-state solution” agreed in outline by Israelis and Palestinians at Oslo in 1993 (with the difficult details left for later), but not to make any actual progress towards it."

Many are beginning to see the two state solution as a fantasy which ignores Israels grabbing Palestinian land, and the refusal of  Netanyahu to get seious about it.  Israeli settlers/builders will slowly continue to gobble of Palestinian land.  When Israeli's are a majority in the occupied territory they may permit a 2nd state to be created.  However, it will not be a true two state solution.  They may also decide to annex the occupied territory.


"Rep. Steve King doubled down Monday on comments he made over the weekend in which he appeared to criticize foreigners and immigrants, drawing complaints of insensitivity on social media and from some of his Hill colleagues.
King, a prominent Iowa Republican and a vocal advocate against illegal immigration, tweeted Sunday, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
Asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day” to clarify his comments, King said he “meant exactly what I said.”
“You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies. You’ve got to keep your birth rate up, and that you need to teach your children your values,” King said, paraphrasing remarks he said he’s delivered to audiences in Europe. “In doing so, you can grow your population, you can strengthen your culture, and you can strengthen your way of life.”
King said he’d like to see less of an emphasis on race in the future.
“If you go down the road a few generations, or maybe centuries, with the inter-marriage, I’d like to see an America that is just so homogenous that we look a lot the same,” he said.
King, who was expressing support in his original tweet for far-right Dutch candidate Geert Wilders, predicted that “Europe will be entirely transformed within a half-century.”  This is from Fox, not MSNBC.

See more at

Where have we seen these types of attitudes in history.  Anyone remember


A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld Maryland's ban on assault rifles, ruling gun owners are not protected under the U.S. Constitution to possess "weapons of war," court documents showed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decided 10-4 that the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, a law in response to the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, by a gunman with an assault rifle, does not violate the right to bear arms within the Second Amendment.

"Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war," Judge Robert King wrote, referring to the "military-style rifles" that were also used during mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, San Bernardino, California, and Orlando, Florida.

These are "places whose names have become synonymous with the slaughters that occurred there," he wrote, noting that the Supreme Court's decision in the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case excluded coverage of assault weapons."
"Judge William Traxler issued a dissent. By concluding the Second Amendment doesn't even apply, Traxler wrote, the majority "has gone to greater lengths than any other court to eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms." He also wrote that the court did not apply a strict enough review on the constitutionality of the law.
"For a law-abiding citizen who, for whatever reason, chooses to protect his home with a semi-automatic rifle instead of a semi-automatic handgun, Maryland's law clearly imposes a significant burden on the exercise of the right to arm oneself at home, and it should at least be subject to strict scrutiny review before it is allowed to stand," Traxler wrote.
National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said, "It is absurd to hold that the most popular rifle in America is not a protected `arm' under the Second Amendment." She added that the majority opinion "clearly ignores the Supreme Court's guidance from District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects arms that are `in common use at the time for lawful purposes like self-defense."'

Trexler and the NRA are right. There are millions of 'assault rifles" in the U.S.  Go to a large shooting rangle and you will probably see lots of people suing these weapons. Large capacity magazines in semi-automatic pistols are used by much of the world's military.  Will such pistols be next to lose 2nd Amend. protection?


"The president’s son Eric probably said it best: “I think our brand is the hottest it has ever been.” No surprise there — nothing like a presidency to boost business. It is nevertheless shocking to see the brazenness of the ethical conflicts and watch the first family celebrate its good fortune."


U.S. Rep. Jason Chafetz , R Utah, reveals his attitude.

"Well, we're getting rid of the individual mandate [in Obamacare]. We're getting rid of those things that people said that they don't want," Chafetz replied. "Americans have choices, and they've got to make a choice. So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care."

See this commentary on the statements.

Conservatives are especially likely to justify cutbacks in programs for the poor because poverty is their own fault.  They are poor because they are lazy, reckless, etc.  This applies to some, but not all of the poor.  It is well documented that the children of the poor start off behind their more affluent peers, and have a tougher time making it.  The claim is that successful and wealthy are superior people and that's why they have made it.  I call this the theory of affluent supremacy.


"OTTAWA — A judge who asked a sexual assault complainant in a trial why she couldn't keep her knees together quit Thursday after a scathing rebuke from the body that oversees the Canadian judiciary."

Looks like we aren't the only North American nation where male supremacy rules.  Where do they find these people?


See the reviews here.  One is on police use of deadly force and the other on surveillance.

1. Fact checking Trump's latest press conference.  Multiple lies as usual.

2.  Final fact check on Obama.  Very disappointing!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ex-Sheriff convicted of obstruction

The former Sheriff of L.A. county, one of the nation's largest law enforcement agencies, was convicted of obstructing the FBI's investigation of corrupt and violent guards at the huge county jail.

Saturday, February 18, 2017


1.  After being called on by the President, a reporter from an obscure Jewish publication asked a long two-part question and Trump took offense.  For reporters, this is not unusual and the reporter was not offensive or critical. After Trump answered the first part of his question, the reporter asked a follow up.  This was not unusual and the question was not critical or offensive. Trump then delivered a lecture and told the reporter to "sit down"   I've been watching new conferences for decades and have never seen a President be so rude to a reporter.  This wasn't even a reporter for the New York Times or Washington Post. This is classic Trump.  Whenever he's asked a question that challenges or irks him, rather than address the issue, he sidetracks to irrelevancies like criticizing the press and falsely accusing  them of lying.  One of his advisors told the press to "shut up.
 Where did they find this President-- an anger management class?

2.  Trump's cabinet appointments and first preliminary budget reveals a well know principle of politics.  Reward your friends, punish your enemies.  Environmentalists, teachers unions, consumer protection, public housing, civil rights groups and others found their cabinet posts filled by people with clear records opposing those who were 'enemies' during the campaign.  For instance, the Education secretary had never been to public shoot and didn't send her children to one.  She was a strong supporter of charter schools which are opposed by public education unions and lobby groups.  Civil rights groups opposed the attorney general nominee.  I can't think of a single cabined appointee who knew much about their agencies or cared about its traditional mission.

The budget was not totally about rewarding and punishing, but the trend was clear.

3.  The Trump administration is considering use of the National Guard to help with mass roundups and deportations.  Makes sense given the millions of people  Trump wants to roundup and deport. When he sees even this is inadequate will he call out the troops?  Use if the military for civilian law enforcement is probably illegal, and we have had a long tradition of keeping the military out of civil affairs except in cases of dire emergency.  The administration denied it--it's usual response to leaks, no matter how apparently reliable. (Remember, for instance, the Flint-lying case?)

4.  The Russian contacts/National Security Advisor Flynn scandal

For a detailed and accurate account see


1.  Almost Dylan Roof deja vu'.  "
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A white supremacist with felony convictions in South Carolina bought a gun from an undercover FBI agent, telling the agent he planned an attack in "the spirit of Dylann Roof," authorities said Thursday.
Benjamin McDowell, 29, was arrested in Myrtle Beach shortly after buying the .40-caliber Glock and ammunition for $109 from the agent who picked him up at his mother's house, then took him to his grandfather's house to get the money, FBI agent Grant Lowe wrote in an affidavit.
McDowell didn't have a specific target in mind, once telling the undercover agent he might just shoot at a party of black people, Lowe wrote." . .

See some of the suspect's Facebook posts at the article., which also mentions Jews. These folks may also be Christian supremacists.

 The suspect mentions Yahweh which is a term used by some Jews and some Christians.
And some people say the Southern Poverty Law Center makes up all this stuff about violent white supremacists.

COURTS (Two Very Hot Issues)

1.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld on of California's most restrictive  gun control provisions. California, D.C., New York and Chicago have perhaps the nation's most draconian gun laws. ) The law gave Calif. officials almost unlimited discretion to deny permits to otherwise qualified applicant who wanted a concealed carry permit.  Such carrying is allowed only with such permits.

"Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block California's limits on concealed carry permit holders in a brief filed with eight other governors.
"The question presented is whether the State of California can single out one group of disfavored citizens--namely, gun owners--and impose unique burdens on their fundamental rights," the brief reads. "Indeed, no other group of private citizens has to prove--to the satisfaction of a government official vested with unreviewable and boundless discretion--that they really need to exercise their fundamental constitutional freedoms."

all parts except section IV, by Judge Bea, and by Judge

N.R. Smith as to all parts except section II.B, stated that in

the context of present-day California law, the defendant

counties’ limited licensing of the right to carry concealed

firearms is tantamount to a total ban on the right of an

ordinary citizen to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.

Thus, plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights have been


See opinions at

I agree with Abbott.  This in unconstitutional under a number of precedents.
The Supreme Court really needs to take this case and some others on the Second Amendment to provide guidance for lower courts and public officials.

2.  - "The Washington Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that a florist who refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding broke the state's antidiscrimination law, even though she claimed doing so would violate her religious beliefs."  Although some things about the decision trouble me, I agree with it.  Freedom of religion is not an absolute bar on government action, and should not be used to stymie civil rights and other legislantion."  The ruling is consistent with a majority of the court rulings on this and similar issues.

From a Fox News station,

See opinion here.

"The case is one of several involving Christian wedding vendors that have emerged in recent years amid a dramatic expansion of gay rights. Social conservatives have argued that the legalization of same-sex marriage, and the proliferation of state and local laws barring discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation, have led to a trampling of religious liberties. They contend that the government should not be forcing these vendors to contribute their artistic talents to same-sex ceremonies, which they oppose on religious grounds, and that the vendors might end up having to abandon their profession to avoid violating their religious beliefs.
But as in Washington, courts have largely sided with the couples and government officials who have called their actions unlawful discrimination"


1.  If you've followed politics in very large cities it doesn't take long to realize who City Hall REALLY listens to.  Big real estate, financing, and construction.  There are job and tax benefits, but too often serious needs go wanting (e.g. crime, pensions,water, animal control, homeless, etc.)  Here in Dallas, the primary effort regarding the homeless is to chase them out of their tent cities to new tent cities in some other parts of the city.  Many places, the road are awful.  The city only got serious about the dog problem after a woman was killed by roaming dogs.  The list of 'let's pretends' goes on.

Here's an example, in 2016, $26.5 million of tax exempt municipal bonds were sold for devlopemnent of two privately owned large buildings.  The feds are now investigating the deals.

2.   "Systemic racism" going back decades is at the core of problems that caused a lead-contaminated water crisis in the majority black city of Flint, according to a Michigan Civil Rights Commission report issued Friday.
The report says the commission did not unearth any civil rights law violations and that nobody "intended to poison Flint." But the 130-page report based on the testimony of more than 100 residents, experts and government and community leaders at public hearings and other meetings last year concludes that decisions would have been different had they concerned the state's wealthier, predominantly white communities." . .
The lack of political clout left the residents with nowhere to turn, no way to have their voices heard."
The lack of political clout left the residents with nowhere to turn, no way to have their voices heard."

Read more here:

This is a problem in many states.  If you are poor, you have little political clout,  Vested interests and the wealthy get most of the legislative attention and programs.  This appears to be much more prevalent in Republican- dominate areas.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Saturday, February 11, 2017

4 BILLION Dollar bail set

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the amount needed to make bail.  $4Billion! This is a U.S. record.
Yes, that's billion with a B.  What is this guy a billionaire or a millionaire?  Not even close.  This is ridiculous and the  judge should be embarrassed. I'm not saying he should be released.  This amount is not  a violation of the Eight Amendment provision banning 'excessive bail."  Why? That provision only applies against the federal government.


Neil Gorsuch, Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court called Trump's remarks about the federal courts that halted his immigration orders "disheartening" and "demoralizing".  Gorsuch made the comment to a Democratic Senator.
"President Donald Trump falsely claimed a Democratic senator “misrepresents” a conversation that the senator had with Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. In fact, Gorsuch’s spokesman confirmed the senator’s account."
Will Gorsuch's nomination be pulled?  Stay tuned.

Not many other Republicans are standing up to Trump for his many false and/or disrespectful tweets and comments.  John McLain and Mitch McConnel are an exception.  See this on equating Russian and the U.S. "killing."

Saturday, February 04, 2017


Guess who was the victim.  An unfortunate heiress, a jewelry executive?  Nope! An NFL Player who invited a woman back to his room and then drank a drink she made for him.  Read the story below.  As in politics, where do they find these people?  As P.T. Barnum said, "There's a .  .  ."


Baylor claims to be a conservative Christian school. If so, why, IMHO, were so many female students sacrificed at the altar of the football team?   The human capacity of denial and hypocrisy (e.g. the defense of slavery)is nothing short of amazing for a species that claims to be capable of rationality.  Although Baylor is a private school, freedom of religion claims will not save it.  Fortunately, there will be a federal investigation for violations of federal law.  Think you've seen all the dirt by now?  Just wait.
See this article below written by sport writer.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017


Here's the best short analysis of what is, our first post-truth President.

Some  quotes therefrom. [by blogger]:
"Consider his response to ABC’s David Muir, who challenged him to back up his repeated, and repeatedly debunked, claim that millions of people voted illegally — which he insists is the reason he lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes. Rather than admitting he had no evidence, Mr. Trump said: “You know what’s important? Millions of people agree with me when I say that.” In other words, facts aren’t important; blind trust in a leader is."

Mr. Trump’s allergy to empirical facts leads naturally to his attacks on the media, whose job it is to report accurately and to hold politicians to account for the things they say and do — goals that are anathema to a huckster. On Thursday, one of Mr. Trump’s top advisers, Stephen Bannon, told The New York Times that the “elite media” is “the opposition party” and should “keep its mouth shut.” Congressional Republicans are getting on board, too: Last week, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, said it was “better to get your news directly from the president. In fact it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth.”. . . [You can always rely on Texas Republicans to fall in line with whatever conservative propaganda is going around]

"This attitude is, of course, all too familiar to the citizens of authoritarian regimes around the world — from China to Russia to Turkey to Egypt — where leaders survive by intimidating or imprisoning journalists, writers and artists, or anyone who dares to challenge the “truth” and “information” generated by the regime. Mr. Trump can engage in intimidation through his Twitter and Facebook accounts alone, where he has a direct line to tens of millions of Americans.
A closed disinformation loop may not seem like a big deal when the dispute is over crowd size, but the stakes will soon be far higher. Mr. Trump’s foremost biographer, the investigative journalist Wayne Barrett, who died this month, said in December that “there’s no check on his power except reality.” The nation, and the world, are about to find out if that’s right."
Fortunately, no President can control the press in American as long as there is serious faithfulness to the First Amendment.  Trump cannot seduce all to enter his alternative facts world.  He can probably get by with seducing his "true believer" hero worshippers who put him in office.


Neil Gorsuch is extremely well qualified to be on the Supreme Court.

He is clearly much more qualified than one of Obama's appointments,
Elena Kagan, who had no prior judicial experience at all.

Unless some dirt is dug up, the opposition will only have ideological grounds to object.  This is how the game is played.  Republican Presidents nominate Republicans, and Democratic Presidents nominate Democrats for the Court.  It's clearly been that way for decades.

This is the only high level appointment by Trump I can feel comfortable about.  A former military general like James Mattis would seem to be a good fit for Secretary of Defense.  However, appointing former military officers may threaten civilian control of the military.  Both Houses of Congress had to waive the traditional ban on ex-military officers serving as Secy. of Defense.

The  rest of his appointees haven't got a clue about the office they will hold or agency they will be heading.  The Washington posts names this crew the "worst ever."  See why at


Pres. Trump has issued a number of controversial executive orders. What are they? Where does the President get authority to do so. See this article from Wikipedia.


"The number of drug-induced abortions in Texas plummeted in the first full year after the state's strict 2013 abortion law took effect, according to statistics released Thursday by the Texas Department of State Health Services. The overall number of Texas abortions — which also includes surgical abortions performed in the state and on Texas women out of state — dropped significantly, the agency found.
The 2014 Texas data was released days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 2013 abortion restrictions as unconstitutional. In a 5-3 vote, the high court overturned provisions of House Bill 2 that required all Texas facilities performing abortions to meet hospital-like ambulatory surgical center standards and forced doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the clinics."

Did the bill cut back on abortions by Texans or did those Texans go to other states?  Certainly, women from relatively affluent families could do this.  Those from poor families might not be able to afford it.  Texas' law just prevents poor females from getting abortions.  More affluent Texans need only go out of state.  The effect of the law falls most heavily-- on the poor.  These are probably the individuals with the least resources to care for their children. How many  families of legislators can afford to send a female out of state for an abortion.  Probably over 90%.  The effect of the moralizing falls almost exclusively on the poor.


This new process may help solve cases that cannot be solved by current DNA testing.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Where to they find these people?  The legislature has committees that do investigating.


“A Stratford police officer has been suspended without pay for leaving a loaded and unsecured .357 revolver in reach of his 8-year-old daughter, who was fatally shot New Year’s Eve at the family’s home, authorities said Friday.

Kenneth Righter, 46, has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child and a disorderly-persons offense called “storage of firearms if minors may have access.” The gun, a personal weapon of Righter’s, was left on a shelf and was accessible to three children, including Sailor Lane Righter, who died, and her brothers, 14 and 17, authorities said.


“The Camden County [NJ] Prosecutor’s Office, which is leading the investigation, did not say whether Sailor or another family member fired the gun, but has said that only family members were home at the time. Kenneth Righter, who is paid $87,000 a year as a Stratford officer, was not home at the time of the shooting.

Righter's attorney, Dennis Wixted, said Friday the charges have added to the family's stress and sadness over Sailor's loss.

"The entire Righter family is devastated," Wixted said. He declined to comment on details of the case.

A 911 call from the Righter family's house on Union Avenue came around 1:50 p.m. on New Year's Eve.

"We need help now," one of Sailor's siblings told a dispatcher, according to a recording of the call provided by county officials. The sibling did not give the dispatcher his name.

"My mom just went upstairs and found her, and she told me to call 911," he said. "She's not breathing."

He then told the dispatcher the family was headed to the hospital.

Sailor was pronounced dead at Kennedy University Hospital in Stratford at 2:15 p.m., authorities said. Her mother brought her there.

Kenneth Righter became a Stratford police officer in 2004, according to the state Attorney General's Office. He passed firearms training several times in recent years, including last year, when he scored 100 percent with his personal revolver, according to qualification forms obtained through a public records request. That is the same weapon that authorities said killed Sailor.

Stratford's police department has guidelines on keeping a weapon at home.”

“Each full-time member of this police department shall be issued a secure gun-locking device, which without exception shall be utilized each day,” the guidelines state, adding, “Officers are encouraged to purchase a safe to further safeguard weapons.”

The department has 16 officers, including supervisors, according to its website.

Police Chief Ronald Morello said in a statement Friday that it is general policy to suspend any employees charged with an indictable crime. He said he could not comment on the investigation by the Prosecutor's Office. "
This is both tragic and inexcusable.



"LaGRANGE, Ga. — Some people here had never heard about the lynching of Austin Callaway — about how, almost 77 years ago, he was dragged out of a jail cell by a band of masked white men, then shot and left for dead.
Some people never forgot.
But on Thursday evening, the fatal cruelties inflicted upon Mr. Callaway — long obscured by time, fear, professional malfeasance and a reluctance to investigate the sins of the past — were acknowledged in this city of 31,000 people when LaGrange’s police chief, Louis M. Dekmar, who is white, issued a rare apology for a Southern lynching.
“I sincerely regret and denounce the role our Police Department played in Austin’s lynching, both through our action and our inaction,” Chief Dekmar told a crowd at a traditionally African-American church. “And for that, I’m profoundly sorry. It should never have happened.”

Thursday, January 26, 2017


See this post on my substantive criminal law blog.


Post-truth and the Trump administration have entered a new phase.  "Alternative truth" is the latest abomination of rational thinking.

Here's two views of the term.

The term is reminiscent of an idea from George Orwell's book 1984.

Here's the Press Secretary's non-sequitur defense of the concept.

Two of Trumps favorite leaders are Russian dictator V. Putin and Israel's hard-liner Netanyahu.  Netanyahu has thumbed his nose at the U.N., international law and complaints about violating the human rights of Palestinians--on whose land the Israeli's are building settlement for Jewish Israelis. Anyone who truly cares about freedom of speech and press, honest government and the future of freedom and democracy should be concerned.

Hopefully, the Republicans, who dominate both houses of Congress will  or say something about these abominations.


Pointing out the POTUS' many 'errors' (perhaps delusions) will become a cottage and national industry. As expected, his staff is falling in line.  The POTUS' and his press secretary's credibility is rapidly disappearing. All politicians have this problem. Trump's defenders use this argument.  However, Trump outpaces just about every policitian in his quantity of such behavior.  I hope the public expects more from the POTUS than from ordinary politicians.
Here's the latest

People wrongly registering is not the same as wrongly voting.  For instance, is a person who is registered in two states going to travel to one of these from his current location.  I'm probably registered to vote in 2 states.  I promise you I  only voted once (for neither Trump nor Clinton).  If the fraud were as massive as claimed, wouldn't the Republican poll watchers across the nation been filing thousands of complaints/reports.

As long as Trump is President people need t get familiar with these two highly respected and balanced web sites.

Will Trump have any credibility with foreign leaders.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Licensed Concealed Carriers subject to stop and frisk.

Cops Can Frisk Anyone Armed, Regardless of Concealed Carry Permits By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on January 25, 2017 5:20 AM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The Fourth Circuit ruled on Monday, in an en banc decision, that police are justified in frisking individuals with concealed firearms, regardless of whether that individual could have a concealed carry permit or not. The fact that someone may have a concealed carry permit does not make it unreasonable for an officer to search them, "for the officer's protection and the safety of everyone at the scene," the Fourth ruled. The decision, U.S. v. Robinson, is in tension with a Sixth Circuit opinion from 2015 and could result in the Supreme Court taking up this developing circuit split. Concealed Carry Permits Are Inconsequential, Fourth Rules The case arose after police stopped two men in Ranson, West Virginia, after getting a tip that one of them had loaded a firearm and slipped it into his pocket. During the stop, the police frisked Shaquille Robinson, found a gun, and arrested him for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Robinson argued that the officers' search violated his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, as the officers had "no articulable facts demonstrating that he was dangerous since, as far as the officers knew, the state could have issued him a permit to carry a concealed firearm." That is, that concealing a firearm alone doesn't render one dangerous, and thus does not justify a subsequent Terry stop and frisk. Under Terry v. Ohio, officers may stop and frisk someone when they reasonably suspect "that the person apprehended is committing or has committed a criminal offense." Since it's possible for the concealed weapon to be legal, Robinson argued, his conduct was "seemingly innocent" and thus didn't justify the search. The Fourth Circuit rejected that argument, concluding that "an officer who makes a lawful traffic stop and who has a reasonable suspicion that one of the automobile's occupants is armed may frisk that individual for the officer's protection and the safety of everyone on the scene." The ability to carry a concealed firearm legally is "inconsequential," the Fourth explained: The danger justifying a protective frisk arises from the combination of a forced police encounter and the presence of a weapon, not from any illegality of the weapon's possession. Dissent Notes Circuit Split The dissent, written by Judge Pamela Harris and joined by three others, argues that, while concealed weapons were once "hallmarks of criminal activity," they can no longer be treated as such, "at least in states like West Virginia," where concealed carry permits make concealed weapons potentially legal. Where such conduct is legal, "there is no reason to think that a person carrying or concealing a weapon during a traffic stop ... is anything but a law-abiding citizen who poses no threat to authorities." That is, the dissent notes, similar to the position taken by the Sixth Circuit. In 2015's Northrup v. City of Toledo Police Dep't, the Sixth ruled that police could not conduct a Terry stop for open carriers, when the state law permits open carry. The Ohio legislature "has decided its citizens may be entrusted with firearms on public streets" and police have "no authority to disregard this." Not only does the majority's decision clash with the Sixth, the dissent argues, but it collapses Terry's "armed and dangerous" standard into one -- to be armed is to be dangerous. The dissent further contends that the majority's expansive reading of Terry will lead to increased racial profiling. There's no word yet whether Robinson will appeal to the Supreme Court, but some, including Texas Supreme Court justices and potential U.S. Supreme Court nominee Don Willett seems to think High Court review is likely: - See more at:

Saturday, January 21, 2017


United States Supreme Court
White v. Pauly, 2017 U.S. LEXIS 5 (U.S. Jan. 9, 2017)
Two police officers went to Daniel Pauly’s house to investigate a road-rage incident that had occurred earlier that night. The officers made verbal contact with Daniel Pauly and his brother, Samuel, who remained inside the house. A third officer, Ray White, arrived at Pauly’s house several minutes later. As Officer White approached the house, someone from inside yelled, "We have guns," and then Daniel Pauly stepped out the back door and fired two shotgun blasts. A few seconds later, Samuel Pauly opened a window and pointed a handgun in Officer White’s direction. Officer White shot and killed Samuel Pauly.
Pauly’s estate filed a lawsuit against the officers, claiming the officers violated the Fourth Amendment by using excessive force against him.

The District Court and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the officers qualified immunity. The officers appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

The Court, which decided the case without oral arguments from the parties, vacated the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ judgment and remanded the case.
First, the court noted that qualified immunity is appropriate when an officer’s conduct does not violate a clearly established statutory or constitutional right of which a reasonable person would have known. Qualified immunity was designed to protect "all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law." Second, the court reiterated that "clearly established law" should not be defined "at a high level of generality," but instead it must be "particularized" to the facts of the case. Third, the Court stated that the lower court failed to identify a case where an officer acting under similar circumstances as Officer White was held to have violated the Fourth Amendment. Instead, the Court found that the lower court relied upon Graham v. Connor, Tennessee v. Garner, and other use of force cases, which only outline excessive force principles at a general level. The court added that this was not a case where it was obvious that there was a violation of clearly established law under Garner and Graham. Finally, the court found that Officer White arrived to scene late, and it was not clearly established that the Fourth Amendment requires an officer to second-guess the earlier steps already taken by fellow officers in situations like the one Officer White faced here.

While the Court vacated the Tenth Circuit’s judgment, the Court recognized that Pauly’s estate could still prevail after the case was remanded. Specifically, the Court commented that Pauly’s estate could claim that Officer White witnessed deficient performance by the other officers and should have realized that corrective action was necessary before he used deadly force. The Court took no position on this potential claim, as neither the District Court nor the Tenth Circuit had addressed the issue.

For the Court’s opinion: