Texas Arresting Bar Patrons for Being Drunk in the Bar

You really have to wonder how many people who would have had no plans to drive while drunk are getting caught up in these arrests. This is pretty depressing, and it is even more depressing that it is occurring in Texas of all places, which has long seemed to prize individual responsibility. It reminds me a little of Sweden when I went there in the late 1970s and the government was removing people by force from their homes and taking them to medical facilities if they were drinking too much (though what was happening in Sweden was obviously worse). I suppose though that this Texas policy could eventually move in that direction.

Many North Texans are complaining about a controversial program during in which state officials arrest people inside bars in order to crack down on public intoxication.
The program began years ago, but during the most recent legislative session, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission asked for and received more money to ramp up the operation.

As a result, the TABC hired 100 agents to travel from bar to bar looking for drunk people who could pose a danger in an agent's opinion.

TABC officials said the program is proactive policing to cut back on drunken driving, but those arrested said it is unfair to arrest someone inside of a bar.

One bar owner, who asked NBC 5 not to use his name for fear of retaliation by the TABC, said those arrested were not causing a disturbance.

"I can understand if we had somebody laying in a booth and they were basically passed out and drunk, I could understand for them to go in with the flashlights and take them out of the booth and arrest them, but these people were standing and doing fine," he said. . . .

UPDATE: I just heard on Fox News tonight that some of the people arrested where arrested in hotel bars and they were staying at the hotel! They also mentioned that over the last two months some 2,000 people have been arrested in bars.

See also this piece from the Dallas Morning News:

Big Brother has gotten mean and sneaky.

In case you hadn't heard, you can't get wasted in a Texas drinking hole these days without fear of going to jail.

And your bartender might be hauled off with you.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is cracking down on public intoxication by going right where you'd expect to find somebody who may have had one too many – bars and nightclubs.

Apparently, the agency loves to shoot fish in a barrel.

Jokes aside, the campaign has caused a public uproar the likes of which I haven't seen around these parts in quite some time.
Within hours after The Dallas Morning News wrote about the crackdown, dozens of e-mails came pouring in yesterday against the TABC.

Folks are outraged, accusing the TABC of "Gestapo-like" practices, of trying to usher in a new era of alcohol prohibition, of being too lazy to go after drunks causing real problems.

Those were the nicer ones.

The TABC's district offices have been flooded with calls across the state.

Still, the agency isn't backing down. Capt. David Alexander, the man in charge of the North Texas region, said he isn't the least bit embarrassed by all the national attention the campaign is drawing.

"We don't feel embarrassed or ashamed, and we feel like we're making a difference by holding the bars accountable and reducing the potential for DWIs," Capt. Alexander said in a telephone interview, one of the countless media calls he has fielded. . . .

The way the TABC figures it, if it can cut down on the number of tipsy people leaving bars and restaurants, it can reduce the number of DWI-related accidents and fatalities.

That's an admirable goal. Plus, the truth is, public intoxication is illegal, too – and to the surprise of several people I talked to yesterday, bars are public places. Still, you have to draw the line somewhere. . . .

Secret list of DC police officers whose testimony will not be used by prosecutors in court

So the question is: why are these police officers on the police force?

A police officer's testimony can make or break a criminal case when it goes to trial. WTOP Radio has learned of a secret list that makes it even more difficult to put criminals behind bars.

In D.C. it's called the Lewis List, but sources tell WTOP similar lists exist in almost every jurisdiction.

It's a computerized list, kept by prosecutors, of police officers under investigation -- officers prosecutors knew will have their credibility challenged if they testify.

Because of the list, prosecutors and police have had to change their tactics to ensure their cases are solid. For example, they try to get suspects to confess to an officer who is not on the list and to make sure the names of the arresting officers are not on the list. . . .

On average, more than 100 names are on the Lewis List in the District. Most are officers who work for the Metropolitan Police Department, but some are from smaller departments. . . .

Thanks to Don Kates for sending this to me.

"Pennsylvania's Rendell Headed for Tough Election"

A win by Lynn Swann could eventually have a major impact on national politics. He is a smart, articulate African-American conservative who would instantly be talked about for national office. While I have heard him stumble in one interview, he has usually done a very good job explaining why incentives matter and what can be done regarding poverty and people's ability to make something of their lives. Even though I haven't lived in Pennsylvania for some time now, I still have strong feelings towards Pennslyvania's Governor Ed Rendell (e.g., his pushing through a state tax income tax increase, opposition to individuals using guns for self-defense, etc.). Rendell's actions on taxes and corruption and the pay hikes will make it much easier for Swann to win than might normally be the case. AngusReid indicates that Rendell is going to face a tough re-election battle this fall.

Last month, former football player Lynn Swann was officially endorsed by Pennsylvania’s Republican Party as its gubernatorial candidate. Swann seeks to become the second African American governor in U.S. history. Rendell and Swann are tied with 44 per cent each in a head-to-head contest. . . .

Only 46 percent of Pennsylvania voters approve of the job Rendell is doing and only 35 percent think that the state is moving in the right direction.


A useful sentiment: "Legislation should make criminals quake"

It is hard to see how the Pennsylvania constitution could be any clearer on the right of people to bear ("carry") guns for self protection.

Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states, “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.”

For many years, gun rights have been eroded by zealous politicians (primarily Democrats) who exploited tragedies to restrict gun-owners’ rights in the name of public safety – ignoring that gun crimes are committed almost exclusively by criminals. . . .

In an effort to restore several fundamental rights that anti-gun politicians legislated away from citizens, two Pennsylvania lawmakers have introduced legislation that would codify and restore the natural and long-honored right to self-defense and eliminate the state police’s handgun-owner database. . . .


What Dick Cheney wants when he is on the road

Talk about reasonable. This comes across as almost bland, but other than making Cheney look like a regular person it is hard to see why this even rates a story. I particularly like the request for Fox News.

All televisions sets in Mr. Cheney's hotel suite should be tuned to Fox News, all lights should be on, and the thermostat set at 68 degrees. Mr. Cheney should have a queen- or king-size bed, a desk with a chair, a private bathroom, a container for ice, a microwave oven and a coffee pot, with decaf brewed before arrival.

The vice president should also have four cans of caffeine-free Diet Sprite and four to six bottles of water. He must have the hotel restaurant menu, with a copy faxed ahead to his advance office. If his wife is with him, she should have two bottles of sparkling water, either Calistoga or Perrier.

For his reading material, Mr. Cheney should have The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and the local newspaper. . . .

Tony Martin's Burglar gets Paid by the BBC

People might remember the Tony Martin story in Britain, where a man who had been robbed many times finally shot to death one of the burglars and wounded another when they had broken into his home. The BBC has now agreed to pay the burglar who was wounded to appear in a BBC movie about the burglary. Fortunately, the BBC decision is getting some negative attention

A documentary about Tony Martin, who was jailed for shooting dead a burglar, will be shown on the BBC despite controversy over payment to a criminal.
Brendan Fearon, who was wounded in the shooting after breaking into Martin's Norfolk home, was paid £4,500 by the BBC to appear in The Tony Martin Story.

News of the payment sparked outrage, and prompted the BBC to reconsider . . .

Kansas passes right-to-carry, only three states now completely ban carrying of concealed handguns

Talk Today

I am giving a talk today at 12:30 PM in the economics department at William & Mary. The talk will be on my research on media bias.

UPDATE: I thought that giving the talk was a lot of fun, and there was a very nice turnout. It was nice to go down to visit there again.

Larry Elder on why people are so pessimistic about the economy

In February, our economy created 243,000 new jobs.

Yet one of our major newspapers tells us almost half of Americans consider the economy in a recession. American Research Group's latest monthly survey found 59 percent of Americans rate the economy as bad, very bad or terrible. Why are Americans so negative?

Compare the first few paragraphs of this particular story by Investors Business Daily to the way the New York Times reported the story. . . . .

Media Research Center examined the year 2005, specifically how ABC, NBC and CBS covered employment news. In 2005, the economy created 2 million jobs. According to the MRC, however, more than 50 percent of the stories involved job losses rather than gains.

. . . John Lott, economist and resident scholar at American Enterprise Institute, and Kevin A. Hassett, the Institute's director of economic policy studies, examined, among other things, newspapers' economic political bias as reflected by their headlines: "We found that newspaper headlines reporting economic news on unemployment, gross domestic product (GDP), retail sales, and durable goods tended to be much more frequently negative when a Republican was in the White House. And this was true even after accounting for the economic numbers on which the stories were based and how those numbers were changing over time."

In other words, all other things being equal, positive economic news under a Democratic president becomes even more positive news. Positive economic news under a Republican president suddenly becomes less positive news. And, on the other hand, negative economic news under a Democratic president becomes less negative news, while negative economic news under a Republican president becomes even more negative. . . .


Georgia v. Randolph: So what do police do now?

Talk about a vague Supreme Court decision. The majority couldn't even state a rule clearly enough that they could say what would happen in this case if there were three tenants as opposed to the two tenants who were present for this case. The notion of having to wait for another case to determine what would happen under those circumstances must give police a lot of assurance on what to do. The one thing that I have to agree with Souter on is that the decision is indeed "drawing a fine line."

But Chief Justice Roberts was not persuaded. In his first written dissent in a criminal case since joining the court, the Chief Justice said: "The possible scenarios are limitless, and slight variations in the fact pattern yield vastly different expectations about whether the invitee might be expected to enter or go away." "Such shifting expectations," he wrote, "are not a promising foundation on which to ground a constitutional rule." . . .

Justice Souter, in alluding to the chief justice's complaint that the majority did not address what would happen if there were a third household occupant involved, said, "We decide the case before us, not a different one."

But both Justice Souter and the chief justice agreed that factual differences that might appear trivial to a layman, or the fruit of nothing more than pure luck, could be all-important in court.

Justice Souter wrote that "we have to admit that we are drawing a fine line; if a potential defendant with self-interest in objecting is in fact at the door and objects, the co-tenant's permission does not suffice for a reasonable search, whereas the potential objector, nearby but not invited to take part in the threshold colloquy, loses out."

Chief Justice Roberts saw the same possibilities, to his dismay. "What the majority's rule protects is not so much privacy as the good luck of a co-owner who just happens to be present at the door when the police arrive," he wrote.

Had the majority decided logically, the chief justice said, it would have found that, just as Mrs. Randolph could turn her husband's drugs over to the police, "she can consent to police entry and search of what is, after all, her home, too."

Wash Post Gives Justice Ginsburg a Hard Time on Reliance on Foreign Law

The paper at least gives her a harder time than I would have expected.

IN A SPEECH last month at the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made some unfair insinuations about critics of the use of foreign law in American courts. . . . To hear Justice Ginsburg describe the matter, you'd think the use of foreign law presents an easy question, legally and morally. In her speech, she quoted language from Chief Justice Roger Taney's infamous Dred Scott decision that rejected the notion that European opinions ought to guide American understanding of the Constitution. She went on to note that South Africa under apartheid also rejected the influence of foreign law, while its 1996 constitution explicitly invites its consideration. And she attacked members of Congress for introducing bills to eliminate the use of foreign precedents in American judicial decisions. Such legislation, she suggested, was responsible for an incident in which someone posted a call on the Internet for her and then-Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to be assassinated. . . . We agree with Justice Ginsburg and the court majority that American courts need not pretend that foreign courts do not exist. . . . . Justice Antonin Scalia offers some reasonable criticisms of how the court has used foreign precedents -- that is, selectively, when foreign law supports results that the court cannot justify based on American authorities alone. As Justice Scalia points out, justices cite foreign precedents in capital cases, where European law is far more liberal than American law, but not in abortion cases, where it is more restrictive.


Kansas Governor vetoes concealed carry bill, override vote will be close

Op-ed on New Orleans Confiscating Guns

National Review Online has a new piece by me entitled: "Defenseless Decision: Why were guns taken from law-abiding citizens in New Orleans?"

Hemenway and Co-authors Refuse to Provided Data Set From 1999

Previously, I complained that David Hemenway (Harvard) and co-authors would not give out the data to a recent study that they did on road rage despite the fact that they had already published a paper in a journal and gone public talking to the media. Recently, however, I have asked for data from two other surveys in 1996 and 1999 that Hemenway also conducted. The 1996 data is available at the ICPSR, but the data from the 1999 survey is not released and Hemenway is not responding to requests on information on even when the data will be released (I last asked on March 9th). It seems as though seven years, long after their study results have been published, is excessively long. The strategy that Hemenway seems to be following is to delay providing the data for so long that no one is able to critically comment on his research simply because the data is so old. An possible concerns that anyone might have would be easy to resolve if data were provided in a timely manner.

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Great economic news not getting any news coverage

"A one-stop e-shop for gun thieves" Lorne Gunter op-ed

If I can find the link, I will put it up. This is a nice op-ed by Lorne.

PUBLICATION: National Post
DATE: 2006.03.20
EDITION: National
SECTION: Editorials
COLUMN: Lorne Gunter
BYLINE: Lorne Gunter
SOURCE: National Post
NOTE: lgunter@telus.net


A one-stop e-shop for gun thieves


The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters set off a minor firestorm two weeks ago when it released an advance copy of its April newsletter, Hotline. The issue contains an interview with John Hicks, former Webmaster for the Canadian Firearms Centre (CFC), who contends that anyone with a home computer, an Internet connection and a little patience can hack into the national firearms database and find out who owns guns, where they live and what makes and models they possess.

Sort of a one-stop-shopping service for criminals.

To Hicks and other critics, the CFC counters that its computers are as secure as the RCMP's.

But after months of freedom-of-information requests from Saskatchewan Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz, the Mounties were forced last year to admit they haven't got up-to-date statistics in this area. Their most recent numbers show 306 illegal breaches of the national police database between 1995 and 2003, 121 of which were unsolved at last report. . . .

Since last fall, there have been half a dozen high-profile gun thefts from shops and collectors' homes in southern Ontario, and unconfirmed reports of nearly 20 more in and around Edmonton.

While there is no proof of a connection between the CFC's hackable computers and these break-ins, it's not hard to imagine that after Ottawa spent billions compiling information on millions of guns in a single database, thieves found it convenient to penetrate the firewall and compile a wish list.

So far, computers have been the largest single known cost of the federal gun-control scheme. (I say "known," because even after eight years, the government still refuses to release any information on enforcement costs.)

Ottawa has already spent or announced spending of $527-million on firearms computers -- or more precisely, on computer failures. There have been 133 computer contracts or amendments made in the last decade to five different companies.

Despite this massive expenditure, no company has been able to make the system work right. . . .

Rather than making Canada safer by letting police know where most of the guns are, the registry may be making the country more dangerous by letting criminals know, instead. Your tax dollars at work.


Evidence that conservatives are winning ("slowly") the debate over the courts

According to the NY Times, former Justice O'Connor and Justice Ginsburg are making what appear to be pretty political speaches. Personally, while it means that the court will be seen as even more political, overall it is a good sign: those on the left or "middle" are finding it necessary to defend their position from conservative concerns:

This month, former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor told an audience at Georgetown University that a judiciary afraid to stand up to elected officials can lead to dictatorship. Last month, speaking in South Africa, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that the courts were a safeguard "against oppressive government and stirred-up majorities."

Justice Ginsburg also revealed that she and Justice O'Connor, who retired in January, had been the targets of an Internet death threat over their practice of citing the decisions of foreign courts in their rulings. . . .

I could be wrong, but I assume that there wouldn't be this somewhat unusual desire to respond publicly unless they felt that the debate was moving against them.

A Doctor argues for guns as "health insurance"

Great caution needs to be taken with cross-sectional data, but given the weight that so many people put on them, I thought that I would point to this piece. It is understandable that these numbers are easy for people to understand, and I have referenced these numbers myself in the past, but a warning on the weaknesses of cross-sectional data should be included.

I posited that earlier in American history, a Winchester rifle was the most potent health insurance (it was the only kind, really) most people could get. I also alluded to how this might still be the case today...

Seriously, folks - despite all the mainstream's trumped-up claims about the dangers of firearms (the one about a gun in the home being more likely to harm the homeowner than a criminal cracks me up), the real statistics firmly cement the fact that legally owned and carried guns do far, far more good than harm.

Cases in point, from public records: In U.S. states that DON'T ALLOW law-abiding citizens to pack heat without restriction...

There are 89% more violent crimes than in states that allow "concealed carry" (that's gun-speak for being legal to carry a hidden firearm on your person)
There are 127% more murders than in states that allow concealed carry
There are 25% more rapes than in states that allow concealed carry
There are 96% more aggravated assaults than in states that allow concealed carry
There are 106% more robberies than in states that allow concealed carry. . . .