Great movie about Johnny Cash's life, Walk the Line

I don't think that I have previously posted a plug for a movie, but if you are at all a Johnny Cash fan (and even if you are not), you really must go see the new movie "Walk the Line." Great performances. Great Story. Great music.


What happens when unarmed police meet armed robbers

Bush Critics very angry at Bob Woodward


An outrageous eminent domain case

Taking an old veteran's house to give to another private party:

Johnnie Stevens Fights for His Home

A July 17, 2005, article in the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that 761st veteran Johnnie Stevens is involved in a controversy relating to planned condemnation of the home where he and his wife have lived for nearly a decade so that the land can be used for a luxury townhouse development. "Given less than two years to live because of lung cancer, Stevens hoped that he would not be pushed out by the borough's ambitious efforts to redevelop the run-down neighborhood." The controversy has recently become part of the political landscape in New Jersey, as politicians are using the situation to debate the legal doctrine of eminent domain that allows governments to take land by condemnation for use in development projects. In 1999 the area was designated a redevelopment zone and about two years ago a developer was chosen from several applicants and signed an agreement to build 400 luxury townhouses and condominiums, luxury apartments and retail and commercial space lining a widened avenue bordered by shade trees. The land owned by Stevens has been earmarked for use as an entrance to the new townhouse community. In the fall of 2004, Stevens received a letter from the developer offering to buy his property. "He turned it down, hired an attorney and is gearing up to fight the city's effort to take his property through eminent domain. 'This eminent domain is one of the most intimidating things you know of,' said Stevens, who breathes with the help of an oxygen machine." The 84-year-old Stevens is a World War II veteran awarded the Bronze Star as a member of the 761st Tank Battalion. "After what I've given to this country. I think I've earned my little piece of land. I just want to have my little garden and sit in my own back yard," Stevens said.

Washington Times gets it wrong on guns

Other cities have tried what San Francisco wants to try, only to reap disappointment. The murder rate dropped in Washington, D.C., after it outlawed handguns in 1976 -- but, as Mr. Kleck has shown, no more than in nearby Baltimore, which did not prohibit them. Chicago's 1982 ban didn't prevent corpses from piling up faster in following years.

In fact, while DC's murder rate was 26.8 in 1976 it rose to 27.8, 28, 27.4 31.5 and 35.1 in the following five years and while it has gone up and down since then, the murder rate after 1976 has only once fallen below what it was in 1976. DC's murder rate numbers are available here.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell in Trouble in the Polls

Ever since I had a debate with Gov. Ed Rendell when he was then mayor of Philadelphia, he has not been one of my favorite people. In any case, it is interesting to see that the latest opinion polls in Pennsylvania show that his "favorable ratings are nearly as high as his unfavorables -- 39 to 38 percent -- according to a Franklin & Marshall College Keystone Poll of 1,145 Pennsylvanians . . . ." Donald Lambro, writing for the Washington Times, notes that " is in a statistical dead heat with Mr. Scranton, who just 3 points behind -- 44 to 41 percent. Mr. Swann is 4 points behind, 47 to 43 percent. These are astonishing numbers at this early stage in the election cycle, suggesting a prominent Democratic governor from a major electoral state is in danger of being knocked off by the Republicans."

Possibly all this is not too surprising given Rendell's support for the very unpopular salary increase for state officials (it was just rescinded) and his constant budget vetos eventually forcing through a significant income tax increase, though he wanted an even bigger one.



Evaluating the impact of gun control: Something to keep in mind

Democrats statements about WMDs/Iraq

Collected in one place here are a lot of quotes about what Democrats said early on about the threat that Sadam Hussein poised. At the end of the list are statements discussion what various intelligence services believed about WMDs and the threat posed by Hussein..

UPDATE: While overseas in DUBAI, United Arab Emrates,, Bill Clinton announced that "[The War] was a big mistake. The American government made several errors ... one of which is how easy it would be to get rid of Saddam and how hard it would be to unite the country." .


Copy of radio interview debate on KUOW in Seattle

Who goes shooting

Mark Yost has a nice story about his experience at a shooting range:

. . . It was clear from the fathers and sons at the range that the shooting sports still are a central part of together time for some families. Indeed, it was heartwarming to watch a grandfather help his 20-something grandson adjust the scope on his rifle. Watching made me think that's what I look like when I'm teaching my son, George, 7, to shoot.

Seeing kids on the shooting range was especially gratifying. You could see the look of anticipation — almost like Christmas morning — on their faces as they walked quickly to a high-powered spotting scope to see how well they'd done. Their beaming faces told the results.

It also was encouraging to see that all the kids weren't your stereotypical hunters from rural families. There was one teen with pierced ears and ripped jeans putting rounds downrange as accurately as anyone. There also were two 20-something buddies who looked like they could just as easily have been at a rave as the gun range.

"I've got buck fever bad," one said to the other. That means he's anxious to get in the woods and get his first deer of the season.

Watching the Bill of Rights in action, I had to wonder how anyone could demonize this lifestyle. But demonized it has been. . . .

Judge Sam Alito on Abortion compared to Some Liberals

Yesterday much was made of Alito's 1985 statement that
"the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion"

This last weekend at the Federalist Society meeting, Cass Sunstein made some brief remark about Roe not being rightly decided. But here are some other quotes that I have:

Laurence Tribe — Harvard Law School. Lawyer for Al Gore in 2000.

“One of the most curious things about Roe is that, behind its own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found.”

“The Supreme Court, 1972 Term—Foreword: Toward a Model of Roles in the Due Process of Life and Law,” 87 Harvard Law Review 1, 7 (1973).

Jeffrey Rosen — Legal Affairs Editor, The New Republic
“In short, 30 years later, it seems increasingly clear that this pro-choice magazine was correct in 1973 when it criticized Roe on constitutional grounds. Its overturning would be the best thing that could happen to the federal judiciary, the pro-choice movement, and the moderate majority of the American people.

“Thirty years after Roe, the finest constitutional minds in the country still have not been able to produce a constitutional justification for striking down restrictions on early-term abortions that is substantially more convincing than Justice Harry Blackmun’s famously artless opinion itself. As a result, the pro-choice majority asks nominees to swear allegiance to the decision without being able to identify an intelligible principle to support it.”

“Worst Choice” The New Republic February 24, 2003

John Hart Ely — Yale Law School
Roe “is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.”

“What is frightening about Roe is that this super-protected right is not inferable from the language of the Constitution, the framers’ thinking respecting the specific problem in issue, any general value derivable from the provisions they included, or the nation’s governmental structure. Nor is it explainable in terms of the unusual political impotence of the group judicially protected vis-à-vis the interest that legislatively prevailed over it.… At times the inferences the Court has drawn from the values the Constitution marks for special protection have been controversial, even shaky, but never before has its sense of an obligation to draw one been so obviously lacking.”

“The Wages of Crying Wolf: A Comment on Roe v. Wade,” 82 Yale Law Journal, 920, 935-937 (1973).

Ruth Bader Ginsburg — Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

“Roe, I believe, would have been more acceptable as a judicial decision if it had not gone beyond a ruling on the extreme statute before the court. … Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict.”

North Carolina Law Review, 1985

UPDATE: One should always consider that ninth amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Thomas Sowell Explains Some Basic Economics

Thomas Sowell asks whether discrimination can explain the high unemployment rate among French Muslims. Hint: labor market price regulations.

Let us go back a few generations in the United States. We need not speculate about racial discrimination because it was openly spelled out in laws in the Southern states, where most blacks lived, and was not unknown in the North.

Yet in the late 1940s, the unemployment rate among young black men was not only far lower than it is today but was not very different from unemployment rates among young whites the same ages. Every census from 1890 through 1930 showed labor force participation rates for blacks to be as high as, or higher than, labor force participation rates among whites. . . .

People who are less in demand -- whether because of inexperience, lower skills, or race -- are just as employable at lower pay rates as people who are in high demand are at higher pay rates. That is why blacks were just as able to find jobs as whites were, prior to the decade of the 1930s and why a serious gap in unemployment between black teenagers and white teenagers opened up only after 1950. . . .

The first federal minimum wage law, the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, was passed in part explicitly to prevent black construction workers from "taking jobs" from white construction workers by working for lower wages. It was not meant to protect black workers from "exploitation" but to protect white workers from competition. . . .

The net economic effect of minimum wage laws is to make less skilled, less experienced, or otherwise less desired workers more expensive -- thereby pricing many of them out of jobs. Large disparities in unemployment rates between the young and the mature, the skilled and the unskilled, and between different racial groups have been common consequences of minimum wage laws. . . .

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"Supreme Court lets stand ban on voting by felons"

Given that the constitution explicitly recognizes that felons can be denied the right to vote and that given there are also sorts of colateral penalties that felons suffer, the court cases that try to restore just this one particular right to felons have always puzzled me. I know that these criminals overwhelmingly vote for Democrats, but it has not seemed like the smartest political move for people like Senator Clinton to support murderers and rapists being able to vote.

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected a challenge to Florida's ban on voting rights for felons, letting stand a 137-year-old law that applies to both inmates and ex-convicts.

The justices offered no comment in deciding not to review the ban, similar versions of which apply in every state, except Maine and Vermont. . . .

The high court's refusal to hear the Florida voting rights case, meanwhile, was met with dismay by lawyers representing ex-convicts seeking the right to vote -- specifically those who have served their time and been released from jail.

"This is a sad day for our democracy," said Catherine Weiss, associate counsel for New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, the lead counsel in the case. "The court has not only missed an opportunity to right a great historic injustice, it has shut the courthouse door in the face of hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised citizens." The Brennan Center said the Florida law bars more than 600,000 people from voting.

Busy day

Lots of radio interviews today from Vancouver to Indiana to Seattle plus a panel presentation at the Georgetown University Law School on Alito's nomination.


Filibuster of Alito Becoming More Likely?

From yesterday's Meet the Press:

MR. RUSSERT: The Supreme Court...

DR. DEAN: Yes.

MR. RUSSERT: ...the president has nominated Sam Alito to the Supreme Court. Should the Democrats in the Senate--there's only 45 of them, but if they stayed together as a block...

DR. DEAN: Right.

MR. RUSSERT: ...they could filibuster and prevent Judge Alito from going to the Supreme Court. Should they?

DR. DEAN: I must say I rarely read editorials and I rarely agree with the ones I read. But The New York Times ran an editorial today which I think is very instructive for the Democratic Party. This could be a defining moment. Judge Alito is a hard-working man, a good family man, but his opinions are well outside the mainstream of American public opinion. He condones a strip-search of a 10-year-old when the police had no such warrant or indication to do so. He condoned the crafting of an all-white jury to hear a black defendant's case by a prosecutor. He condoned the states not having to listen to the Family Medical Leave Act. He condoned government interference in private family matters and family decision- making. This is well outside the mainstream of where Americans are. I think the Democrats are going to have to think long and hard as the hearings progress about whether we should support him. There's some grave questions about him, and I do hope that they will stick together.

From Sunday's New York Times:

Judge Samuel Alito has been working hard to win over moderate Democratic senators. But just as it would be irresponsible to reject his nomination to the Supreme Court without giving him a full hearing, it is unwise to embrace it - or rule out the possibility of a filibuster - until more is known. . . .

The Alito nomination comes at a critical moment for the Democratic Party. With President Bush's poll numbers plummeting, Democrats are finding a new optimism about their chances in 2006 and 2008. But to capitalize on the Republicans' weakness, the party needs to show that it has an alternative vision for the country. As the Democrats refine their message for next year's elections, the first thing they need to be able to say to the American people is that they did not sit by idly while the far right took over the Supreme Court and began dismantling fundamental rights and freedoms.

Poll Tested Attack On Alito

us on abortion rights, a coalition of liberal groups opposing the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel Alito is preparing a national TV advertising campaign accusing him of threatening rights through other areas, including police searches and employment discrimination.

The effort to turn the subject away from abortion -- which has dominated the discussion among supporters and detractors of the Alito nomination -- comes as Democrats are trying to dispel their party's image as too absolutist on the issue.

People involved in the liberal groups' effort said, however, that the advertising strategy reflected more specific poll results showing that Alito could be more vulnerable to attacks on other aspects of his record. A poll commissioned by the Alliance for Justice, one of the groups leading the coalition, highlighted elements of the judge's record unrelated to abortion that could have greater resonance with moderate voters.

One issue the poll raised was his support as a Reagan administration lawyer of an employer's right to fire someone who had AIDS. Another issue was a judicial opinion he wrote supporting a police strip-search of a drug dealer's female partner and her 10-year-old daughter. Others included his judicial votes against employment discrimination suits and an opinion overturning part of the Family and Medical Leave Act. . . .


911 tape of Susan Gaylord Buxton

A copy of part of Susan Gaylord Buxton's self defense that was overheard on the 911 call to police can be found here. The operator telling the granddaughter to stop her grandmother from shooting the gun is outrageous since the operator had no idea what was going on at the scene. The whole exchange just goes to show how much can happen while one is waiting for the police to arrive at a crime scene.

Man attacked for second time considers getting a concealed handgun permit

LUCAS Dawson began carrying a knife after being attacked while kissing his male lover in a South Philadelphia Park four years ago.

Now, after a second assault by gay bashers - one of whom he killed in self-defense - Dawson's thinking about getting a gun.

The 21-year-old was cleared yesterday of charges in the fatal stabbing of a 17-year-old boy who was among a group that attacked him near his East Mount Airy home on Oct. 29.

There was great relief at the Dawson home yesterday after the decision by a Municipal Court judge, but now the concern is his safety.

Last night, Dawson packed to leave home for fear of retaliation.

"I mean, seven guys jumped me, and one guy died," he said. "There's still six other people that want to hurt me.

"I fear for my safety, and that's why I'm moving away," he added. "I won't carry a knife on me anymore, but I am considering getting a gun permit." . . .


A Gallup poll showing the greatest decline of public confidence in law enforcement in ten years largely explains why a growing number of Americans are arming themselves for protection against criminals, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) said today.

Gallup's annual Crime Poll was conducted in mid-October. Gallup randomly contacted 1,012 adults across the country. The results revealed that confidence in the ability of police to protect people from violent crime has slipped from 61 percent last year to 53 percent this year.

"In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, where thousands of Americans were left to fend for themselves in an environment of looting and more serious crime, the poll results are understandable," said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. "Americans witnessed on national television why it is so important for them to be able to take care of themselves, their families, and their property. They are buying firearms and learning how to use them."