Circuit Court: Felons can be prevented from voting even if felons are disproportionately minorities

Given that the 14th amendment to the constitution clearly says that states can ban felons from voting, the issue would seem clear to me, but we will have to ultimately wait for the Supreme Court.

A landmark civil rights law cannot be used to argue that barring felons from voting discriminates against minorities because they are imprisoned at a higher rate, a federal court ruled Thursday. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which removed barriers to black voters, was not an avenue of relief for 21 plaintiffs, which include six current prisoners.

The plaintiffs sued the state in November 2000.

Judge Jose A. Cabranes, who voted with the majority in the 8-5 ruling, said there were "persuasive reasons'' to believe Congress did not intend the Voting Rights Act to cover laws passed to prevent prisoners and parolees from voting in New York elections.

He noted that every state except Maine and Vermont bans felons from voting.

Though the ruling related to elections in New York state, Cabranes acknowledged the issue has relevance nationwide and that "absent Congressional clarification, will only be definitively resolved by the Supreme Court.'' . . .

Minor aside: I recently debated this issue a few weeks ago in front of 1,700 high school students in Illinois. One of the phrases that bother me the most in this debate is referring to people as ex-felons once they are released from prison. The problem is that once a felon, you are always a felon unless your record is expunged.


"United 93" is a very good movie

I went to see the movie "United 93" tonight and I thought that it was a very powerful movie. Given that there is little that I didn't already know, it was surprising that the movie could not only hold my attention, but that it was so riveting. The first half of the movie was a little slow at times, but the last half more than made up for that. The only change that I would have made would be to include a clock such as the one used in "24" or "High Noon." Not so much for suspense, but so that viewers would have some perspective on how little time different people had to respond to what was happening. There may have been just over an hour from when the first plane hit the towers to when United 93 crashed and less than one hour between the second plane hitting the towers and the crash of 93, but The people that I went with didn't seem to remember that and the film didn't make that clear enough. The reaction was one that the people running air traffic control and the military were incompetent, but I think that if people understood how little real time was involved, they would have been far less critical. It is the only movie that I have been to where i had no idea of the names of virtually any of the characters all the way through the movie. More importantly, not knowing the names didn't matter. Anyway, I would give the movie a strong 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Representative Patrick Kennedy Claims that he didn't drink alcohol before crash, but . . .

I have sympathetic to Representative Patrick Kennedy's problems with substance abuse, but he is digging a deeper hole for himself right now.

U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy insisted yesterday that he had consumed “no alcohol” before he slammed his Mustang convertible into a concrete barrier near his office, but a hostess at a popular Capitol Hill watering hole told the Herald she saw him drinking in the hours before the crash. “He was drinking a little bit,” said the woman, who works at the Hawk & Dove and would not give her name. Leaving his office late last night, Kennedy refused to say whether he’d been to the Hawk & Dove the night before.

Kennedy also claims that he did not ask for special treatment, but he did tell the police that he was on the way to a vote and congressmen apparently can't be stopped when that is true.

The Washington Post has a nice roundup on the story that relies on the early news coverage.

Having to hire people to hunt deer in suburban areas

Possibly we could consider lowering the fees to get hunting permits? My guess is that lowering deer populations in rural areas will reduce the number of deers in the suburbs.

Phil Norman wriggled into his blood-splattered overalls and got ready to shoot some deer. He had everything he needed for an evening hunting trip: a Remington Model 700 rifle, night-vision binoculars and a map of the terrain.

Not that it was particularly hard terrain to navigate.

Norman was stalking white-tailed deer amid the suburban cul-de-sacs of Columbia. Just a few hundred yards from where a little girl had been playing on a yellow swing on Nightshade Court, he crept, under cover of darkness, through part of a 300-acre park. Before he was done, he shot six deer.

Norman, a Howard County employee, said he aims away from the houses, uses a silencing device and takes only shots that could not ricochet toward people. County rules prevent him from firing within 150 yards of any occupied structure.

"It might sound strange to think of deer SWAT teams in the suburbs," said Norman, 50, a soft-spoken pastor with wire-rimmed glasses. "But if we don't do something pretty soon the deer will be stampeding down the streets." . . . .

Now they are relying more and more on sharpshooters and police SWAT teams to hunt the animals even in some densely populated neighborhoods.

The District and Fairfax and Montgomery counties --not to mention private citizens -- have hired professional sharpshooters to kill the animals.

There are perhaps a dozen registered deer sharpshooters in the region. . . .


Another cost of Socialism, the high price of gas?

Feared Terrorist Leader Doesn't Know How to Shoot Machine Gun

"Call terrorist acts terrorism, BBC told"

Oversight board says that political correctness goes too far at BBC:

The BBC should not be afraid to use the word 'terrorism' in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a independent report commissioned by the corporation said today.

The report, which was ordered by the BBC governors from a panel of five independent figures last October to assess the contentious issue, found there was no evidence of "systematic" bias within the corporation.

However, the report criticises "the elusiveness of editorial planning, grip and oversight" of its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said the BBC does not "consistently give a full and fair account".

The panel made four main recommendations regarding areas for improvement - including the use of language.

"We say that the BBC should get the language right. We think they should call terrorist acts 'terrorism' because that term is clear and well understood," the panel's chairman, Sir Quentin Thomas, the president of the British Board of Film Classification, writes in his introductory statement to the report.

"Equally, on this and other sensitive points of language, once they have decided the best answer they should ensure it is adopted consistently."

Overall, the panel gave a positive assessment of the BBC's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - with a number of important caveats. . . . .


The PAN Gains the lead in Mexico's Presidential Race

Oh, never mind. No evidence of price gouging.

Arizona's comprehensive investigation into that state's high fuel prices after Hurricane Katrina concludes that while there was "profiteering" at all levels of the oil industry, nothing illegal took place.

Washington's attorney general's office said in a report last week that its more recent investigation of today's high prices "has not found any evidence so far of illegal activity among gasoline retailers or producers in Washington."

Together, the two reports show that it is hard for authorities to prove consumers are being ripped off even in times of extraordinary price increases. . . . .

Of course, this article implies that "price gouging" is occurring, it is just too difficult for the government to prove. Still, there is NO EVIDENCE proving that price gouging is occurring. Of course, there was a report put out after Katrina by the FTC that found the same thing.

Ken Blackwell wins Ohio Republican Gubernatorial Primary

"With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Blackwell had 435,478 votes, or 56 percent, compared with 338,606, or 44 percent, for state Attorney General Jim Petro." Blackwell will be the strongest candidate that the Republicans could have put up against Strickland. With Lynn Swann leading in Pennsylvania, there is a reasonable chance that two black Republicans could be elected as governors this year, dramatically changing the political climate in the country.

More information on Blackwell's positions can be found here. Gun rights advocates will love what he posted on his site immediately prior to the primary.

"Protected sea lions are eating endangered salmon"

Fox News has an interesting video on protected sea lions are eating endangered salmon. The problem is that animal rights advocates say that sea lions are protected. It is possible to go through a very lengthy bureaucratic process to get approval to kill the sea lions, but it appears that one would have to go through this process over and over again as you would have to replace the troublesome sea lions when new sea lions will obviously come to take their place.

While I am at it, Fox News also has a nice discussion with Michael Barone about how the US has done a good job on the environment relative to other countries.


A thought on the $100 tax cut to make up for high gasoline prices

The issue appears dead right now (and that is all to the good), but there is still one important point that could be made in partial defense of the Senate plan that got some attention for a few days. The alternative to giving everyone $100 tax cut would presumably have been to cut gasoline taxes for some period of time. My one concern is that, as any economist knows, the price of gasoline would have fallen by less than the decline in taxes. The problem would have been all the even stronger calls for more regulation because that smaller decline in the price woul have been seen as evidence of collusion by the oil companies.

Some amusing and unusually well done computer commercials


Bruce Willis on the 2nd Amendment


Reviews of "Flight 93"

The reaction overall seems to be extremely positive. If you are interested in seeing what the audiences who have seen Flight 93 think of the movie: click here for detailed reviews and here for a simple survey. The Wall Street Journal review is here. The New York Times review is here. A brief Chicago Tribune review is here.

Problems with Wikipedia

A word to the wise:

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that can be altered by anyone with a computer, has proved remarkably useful for pulling political dirty tricks.

Political operatives are covertly rewriting -- or defacing -- candidates' biographical entries to make the boss look good or the opponent look ridiculous.

As a result, political campaigns are monitoring the Web site more closely than ever this election year.

Revisions made by Capitol Hill staffers became so frequent and disruptive earlier this year that Wikipedia temporarily blocked access to the site from some congressional Internet addresses. The pranks included bumping up the age of the Senate's oldest member, West Virginia's Robert C. Byrd, from 88 to 180, and giving crude names to other lawmakers.

The entry for Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall of Georgia labeled him "too liberal" for his state, in part because of a contribution he received from a political action committee run by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat. The man who doctored Mr. Marshall's biography now works for his Republican challenger.

In Georgia this week, the campaign manager for a candidate for governor resigned amid allegations he doctored the Wikipedia biography of an opponent in the Democratic primary.

Morton Brilliant was accused of revising the entry for Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor to add his son's arrest last August in a drunken-driving accident that left his best friend dead.

The information was accurate and had been in the news, but Mr. Brilliant's boss, Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox, declared the son's legal troubles out of bounds.

The link to Mr. Brilliant was discovered by Mr. Taylor's campaign, which immediately accused the Cox camp of engaging in "gutter politics" and demanded Mr. Brilliant's resignation.

Some 1,000 volunteer monitors scan changes to Wikipedia's entries to keep them free of obvious partisan editing, factual errors and profanity, said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. . . . .

Other problems with Wikipedia

Wal-mart's Wikipedia War

University of Maryland Discussion on Wikipedia