Off to give talks over the next couple of days

I will be in New Orleans to give talks to the annual Public Choice meetings as well as the Federalist Society. Talks will be on my recent work with Kevin Hassett on media bias and the judicial confirmation process.


A real circus: Congress subpoenas current, ex-baseball stars

Jose Canseco, Jason Giambi, Mark McGwire and four other baseball players were subpoenaed Wednesday to testify before a congressional committee investigating the sport’s steroids policy.

Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Frank Thomas also were subpoenaed to appear at the March 17 hearing of the House Government Reform Committee along with players’ association head Donald Fehr, baseball executive vice presidents Rob Manfred and Sandy Alderson and San Diego general manager Kevin Towers.

Canseco, Fehr and Manfred had agreed to testify. Manfred will speak on behalf of baseball commissioner Bud Selig.

“The remaining witnesses, however, made it clear — either by flatly rejecting the invitation to testify or by ignoring our repeated attempts to contact them — they had no intention of appearing before the committee,” committee chairman Rep. Tom Davis and Rep. Henry Waxman, the ranking Democrat, said in a statement.

For my view on all this see this.


Illinois House Panel Approves Concealed Handgun Bill

Illinois is one of only 4 states that ban people from carrying concealed handgun. This week a state House panel overwhelmingly passed two concealed handgun bills, but don't hold your breath.


Piece on why New York City's Gun Industry Responsibility Act doesn't have any teeth

Professors ANTHONY J. SEBOK AND TIMOTHY LYTTON have a very interesting op-ed on New York City's Gun Industry Responsibility Act. People should read the piece, but it makes several interesting points:

1) New York State does not accept the rule that breach of a local ordinance can be the basis for per se negligence.

2) If instead the new law is classified as a "Police Power," they argue that it is almost certainly unconstitutional.

3) This may be one case that actually runs afowl of the Dormant Commerce Clause.

Democrats to disrupt signature gatherers for Schwarzenegger's ballot initiative drive

A liberal grassroots network that helped fuel Howard Dean's maverick run for president is crackling back to life to fight Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's ballot initiative drive, another sign that the governor's plans for a special election this year could produce a costly and fiercely partisan battle. . . . But volunteers from California for Democracy hope to frustrate those efforts. They plan to use the Web and mobile technology to keep roughly 9,000 supporters abreast of the whereabouts of signature-gatherers for Schwarzenegger ballot initiatives. . . . The strategy took shape last week in a conference call involving 1,000 of the group's members and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles, a day after Schwarzenegger launched a signature-gathering drive for three initiatives that mirror proposals he laid out in January.

This is a rather thuggish tactic for the Democratic party to openly track signature gatherers and physically disrupt their ability to gather signatures. It doesn't signal a lot of confidence among Democrats.

Scalia v. Breyer on Using International Law for Precedent

John Fund describes a recent debate between Justices Scalia and Breyer:

Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the minority dissent in the juvenile death penalty case, opened his argument by lamenting the "arrogance" of judges who cite international law rather than the U.S. Constitution they are sworn to uphold. "Doesn't it seem arrogant to think I can decide moral views for penology, death penalty and abortion?" he asked, in arguing that legislatures or voters should make those decisions.

Justice Stephen Breyer replied that the court had to look more widely at how to define fundamental rights in an increasingly global society. "U.S. law is not handed down from on high even at the U.S. Supreme Court," he said. "The law emerges from a conversation with judges, lawyers, professors and law students.... It's what I call opening your eyes as to what's going on elsewhere."

"What you're looking for are the standards of decency of American society," Mr. Scalia shot back. "What does an opinion of a wise Zimbabwe judge have to do with what Americans believe?" That stung Mr. Breyer, who had cited a court case from Zimbabwe in a decision a few years back. Acknowledging that the country's rule of law has been destroyed under the despotic rule of Robert Mugabe, Mr. Breyer agreed that his citation of a Zimbabwean judge was "unfortunate."

But that's the trouble. When citing international law, judges are likely to be selective in their use of foreign opinions, cherry-picking those that fit the outcome they want. A foreign court may oppose the death penalty, for example, but since the U.S. is one of the few countries in the world to have legalized third-trimester abortions, the same foreign court would likely have a more conservative slant on abortion.


Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell gets an "F" for his fiscal policy

Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell gets the lowest grade for fiscal policies of any serving governor. California governor Schwarzenegger gets the highest grade.

"So why did Ed Rendell finish 41 out of 42 governors? (Eight governors were excluded from the study because they just began office). The only governor ranked behind Rendell was McGreevey, who resigned last year. It appears that Rendell’s plan of siphoning $1 billion a year from working Pennsylvanians to support his massive government spending plan had something to do with his low marks. There’s also those hidden taxes, including higher fees for state inspections and emissions testing. And let’s not forget the $50 tax on workers Rendell pushed through last year, allowing communities to raise their occupational privilege tax from $10 to $52 a year."

Still More on Felons Voting

John Fund has a new piece on felons voting. Among John's other points:

Liberals normally avoid partisan arguments in expressing their support for voting by felons. Instead, they point to the disproportionate racial impact. Sometimes they overstate that impact, as Mara Liasson of National Public Radio did last week when she said that "I would expect if you did a study, you would find that probably the vast majority of [felons] are African-American." In truth, a little more than a third of disfranchised felons are black. . . .

The allegation that laws restricting felon voting are racially motivated is flawed. Harvard historian Alexander Keyssar, author of the classic book "The Right to Vote," points out that many states passed such laws before the Civil War. Later, the laws were passed in many Southern states by Reconstruction government run by Republicans who supported black voting rights. Mr. Keyssar says that "most laws that disenfranchised felons had complex and murky origins," often centering on the notion that "a voter ought to be a moral person." As one judge noted: "Felons are not disenfranchised based on any immutable characteristic, such as race, but on their conscious decision to commit an act for which they assume the risks of detection and punishment."

Letters in NY Post Responding to my piece on Felons Voting

March 7, 2005 -- The fact that most people with felony convictions are poor, working-class citizens who might vote Democratic is not the issue, as John R. Lott Jr. and James K. Glassman seem to think ("The Felon Vote," Opinion, March 1).

How a citizen votes is not a prerequisite to having the right to vote.

The fact is, five Republican governors, including President Bush when he was governor of Texas, have realized that this is about fairness and basic rights.

They were some of the first state executives to urge reform of voting eligibility laws to allow more ex-prisoners to vote.

Their actions clearly signaled that this is a bipartisan issue about fairness and democracy — and not partisan politics as Lott and others proclaim.

The Count Every Vote Act offers solutions to voting inequities that have plagued our system for centuries. I say, let Congress finally have this debate.

Joseph Hayden

Hillary and Bill Clinton have made a mockery of public office.

Now Hillary wants to give felons the right to vote. She will apparently go to any length to get elected.

I would love to see the duo run — back to Arkansas.

Howard Taylor


The first letter misses the central point. With all the penalties that felons still face after they are released from prison, why is it that this is the one single penalty that Democrats are trying to remove. Why not restore their right to professional or business licenses? Why not their ability to work for the government or unions? Why not their ability to own a gun? it is hard to deny that this is being pushed by Democrats (and this change only for felons) because they believe that it helps them politically.


Cab driver charged after killing in self defense

More on Felons Voting

Hannity & Colmes discuss the new Hillary Clinton and John Kerry legislation that would guarantee that felons are allowed to vote.

HANNITY: Congressman Fattah, as John Lott pointed out in his recent article that there is some academic work that has studied this. Jeff Mansa and Marcus Britain of Northwestern University. And Christopher Reagan of the University of Minnesota have studied the issue.

And what they found is that Bill Clinton pulled 86 percent of the felon vote in 1992 and a whopping 93 percent in 1996. So clearly the evidence shows it does favor the Democrats. So this is a political move to help in close races, isn't it, sir?

FATTAH: Well, Sean, really, it's just a distraction from the real problems of the country. The reality is Republicans control the Senate and the Congress. If they don't want this bill to pass, it won't pass.

Not exactly a strong denial from Fattah.

In the UK you must "scare off their prey before opening fire"

COUNTRY sportsmen keen on pigeon pie will need to put the cat among them first. Farmers and landowners will also need to hone their windmill gyrations and scarecrow impersonations if they are planning a potshot at crop-eating birds. The Government has ruled that it is now illegal to shoot a crow,  rook or pigeon for the pot without scaring it first. The legislation says shooters must attempt to frighten off the birds before pulling the trigger. Only when the birds fail to respond can he or she shoot it for dinner. The same rule applies to farmers who have shooting days blasting woodpigeons and rooks to protect their crops or gamebirds. At this time of the year thousands of people pull on their camouflages for a day's rough shooting. They are now acting unlawfully. They too must first engage in frightening techniques to disperse the birds. Only if their antics are ignored can they shoot legally. Failure to comply can result in a fine of up to £5,000 or a maximum six months in prison.

93 year old man uses gun defensively

He might not have been a cop since 1966, but this 93 year old still new what to do to defend himself.

"I was sitting here in the front room around quarter after three, and I saw this van pull up," Thomas said Friday, recalling how his police instincts kicked in. "Something told this old retired policeman to go out and get the license number.And then I sat down again and started reading the sports page." While he was reading, the doorbell began to ring repeatedly. Said Thomas, a widower who lives alone: "The next thing I know, these two guys are going into my back yard." Thomas saw them go behind his house and then heard a sound at his window just five feet away. "I heard it first and then saw them fooling around with the window," he said. "I knocked once, and they ran." Despite the pair's quick retreat, Thomas' day was far from over. Both men eventually returned and began prying off the screen. He got his service pistol from his bedroom, "the one that was issued in 1943," Thomas said. "I got me a gun out of retirement — like me." Thomas left his house through the back and began to walk toward the men, gun in hand. "Somehow or other they smelled me," he said.

Thanks to Goodwillhntg@aol.com for providing this.