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.