Archive for ‘Politics’

08/28/2013

About this pro-gun “Harvard” “study” that is making the internet rounds today

by wfgodbold

There are a few things that need to be said:

1. It isn’t new; it’s from 2007.

2. It was published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, which is the official journal of the Federalist Society (and so, despite the Harvard name, has a more right-libertarian bent than one might expect; in fact, the top of the Journal’s homepage bears the legend “The nation’s leading forum for conservative and libertarian legal scholarship.”).

3. The authors do not appear to be affiliated with Harvard. This is due to the nature of law review publications (which the Harvard J.L. & Pub. Pol’y most assuredly is). Law professors and attorneys write articles and then submit them to reviews for consideration for publication. The staff of the review will check the articles and their sources, making sure that cited authority actually says what the author claims it says.*

Now, I haven’t read the article itself or looked at the sources or methodology. I am in favor of its conclusion (as should be obvious from this blog). Its truth or falsity should be determined irrespective of its source.

Breitbart.com‘s calling it a Harvard study is bending the truth nearly to the breaking point, and Hot Air‘s assertion that because this article is from HARVARD!!11!1 it settles everything is flat out wrong.

I was originally going to submit this as a comment over at Alphecca, but decided instead to get in my one post for August (I have no idea why this has become my new schedule, but I will try to post more frequently).

*If you remember, gentle reader, I am currently a member of the law review at my law school. Reviews are predominantly student-run, and we spend most of our time running down sources and editing submitted pieces.

06/11/2013

Treason

by wfgodbold

Oh, right, I have a blog. Sorry about the absence dearth lack of posts laziness.

Anyway, I’ve seen much bandying about of “treason” and such regarding Snowden, the private contractor working for the NSA that leaked information on what the agency is actually doing, and I thought I would point this out:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted. U.S. Const. art. III § 3.

I doubt this applies to Snowden; he didn’t adhere to our enemies, nor did he give them aid or comfort.

However!

Nidal Hasan, the Islamist psychiatrist who shot up Fort Hood (*spit*), is intending to use the “defense of others” defense in his trial. He even said–in court–that he did so to protect the Taliban from deploying soldiers.

So, Hasan confessed in court that he killed American soldiers to protect the Taliban. I doubt that qualifies as giving aid or comfort, but it certainly seems to fall under the umbrella of “adhering to their enemies.”

Treason is a term of art, gentle reader. Don’t bandy it about carelessly.

04/19/2013

Remember, gentle reader, that if you’re going to lose, lose big. And then be a total dick about it.

by wfgodbold

I got the bulk of my gloating in by quoting Conan the Barbarian, but I couldn’t let Bloomberg’s and Giffords’s post-gun-control-failure statements just sit there.

Bloomberg, the micro-managing tyrant of NYC, said:

Today’s vote is a damning indictment of the stranglehold that special interests have on Washington. . . . More than 40 U.S. senators would rather turn their backs on the 90 percent of Americans who support comprehensive background checks than buck the increasingly extremist wing of the gun lobby. [emphasis added]

Gabrielle Giffords, who was tragically shot in the head by a lunatic and then granted supreme moral authority by the hard-core anti-gun crowd, said much the same thing:

I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending. [emphasis added]*

President Obama, of course, was not one to leave the special-interest-bashing to others, as the New York Times noted:

Standing in the Rose Garden next to former Representative Gabrielle Giffords and other victims of gun violence, Mr. Obama flashed anger as he said that the gun rights lobby had “willfully lied” about the legislation, and that Republicans and Democrats had “caved to the pressure.”

Bloomberg, of course, founded and bankrolls Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a notorious anti-gun organization filled with criminal mayors. Giffords similarly started her own super-PAC to push for strict gun control.

I’m not saying that Bloomberg and Giffords aren’t free to spend their money (or in the case of Giffords, donor money) to lobby for policy changes they support. Free speech and the right to petition legislators and the government for the redress of grievances are at the heart of our political system.

That said, it’s disingenuous at best, and damnably hypocritical at worst, to bemoan the grip that other special interests have on Washington merely because they defeated your special interests.

Gun control isn’t about guns. It’s about control. Control of you, gentle reader. I’ll leave you with an excerpt from Rudyard Kipling’s The Gods of the Copybook Headings:

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

*For a complete list of the various fallacies Giffords employs in her blatant attempt at emotional blackmail, check out James Taranto’s response at the Wall Street Journal.

04/17/2013

What is best in life?

by wfgodbold

To crush your enemies.

See them driven before you.

And hear the lamentations of the women.

Thanks to all who called their congressmen to read them the riot act. Of course, just because gun control was defeated today doesn’t mean that it’s gone forever. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, etc.

04/12/2013

Quote of the Indeterminate Time Interval – Bubblehead Les

by wfgodbold

Over at Shall Not Be Questioned on the Toomey-Manchin deal:

This bill is like trying to plug the holes in Swiss Cheese by cutting out plugs from the same slice and inserting them into the holes that are already there.

I’ve only read excerpts of the bill so far, but I’m not impressed. I’ll try to read it this weekend and post my thoughts in between preparing for my trial advocacy final and grading legal research assignments for class I’m the TA for.

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03/27/2013

Three cheers for SCOTUS!*

by wfgodbold

Yesterday, in a 5-4 decision, the Court held that bringing a drug dog onto the curtilage of a house constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment. This seems like common sense, but given the Court’s sui generis treatment of drug dogs in the past, it wasn’t actually a slam dunk.

Scalia wrote for the majority (and was joined by Thomas, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, and Kagan), and though I haven’t yet read the opinion, the reasoning seems like it should follow pretty clearly from his opinion in Kyllo. Scalia relied in part on the reasoning used in last year’s GPS case.

Best line (seen excerpted elsewhere):

We have accordingly recognized that “the knocker on the front door is treated as an invitation or license to attempt an entry, justifying ingress to the home by solicitors, hawkers and peddlers of all kinds.” Breard v. Alexandria, 341 U. S. 622, 626 (1951). This implicit license typically permits the visitor to approach the home by the front path, knock promptly, wait briefly to be received, and then (absent invitation to linger longer) leave. Complying with the terms of that traditional invitation does not require fine-grained legal knowledge; it is generally managed without incident by the Nation’s Girl Scouts and trick-or-treaters. [emphasis added]

The Court then held today that the Federal Tort Claims Act applies to law enforcement acting within the scope of their duties–any activity in the scope of their duties, not merely investigation or law enforcement. I don’t know anything about the FTCA, but anything that can help hold law enforcement accountable is a good thing, right?

Standard disclaimer: I’m just a law student. If you rely on anything I’ve said here, on your own head be it.

*Why, yes, I am cheering SCOTUS in a cryptically titled blog post. You probably thought this was going to be about gay marriage or DOMA.

Fooled you!

03/21/2013

Intermediate scrutiny is the new rational basis

by wfgodbold

At least in the Fourth Circuit.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision reversed the district court’s decision in Woollard v. Sheridan (which had invalidated the Maryland concealed carry statute’s requirement that an applicant show good cause for issuance of a concealed carry license).

The court quoted legislative “findings” supporting the law as written:

(1) the number of violent crimes committed in the State has increased alarmingly in recent years;

(2) a high percentage of violent crimes committed in the State involves the use of handguns;

(3) the result is a substantial increase in the number of deaths and injuries largely traceable to the carrying of handguns in public places by criminals;

(4) current law has not been effective in curbing the more frequent use of handguns in committing crime; and

(5) additional regulations on the wearing, carrying, and transporting of handguns are necessary to preserve the peace and tranquility of the State and to protect the rights and liberties of the public.

The court even notes that these findings (adopted in 2002), have not been substantially changed since the Maryland legislature first adopted them in 1972.

Somehow, despite the passage of 30 years from the legislature’s initial adoption to its re-adoption of these findings, the situation in Maryland has not changed (after all, if it had worked, and crime had gone down in response to any laws based on these findings, surely the present findings would differ by at least crediting the current harsh laws for the drop in crime). This is in fact strikingly similar to the Supreme Court’s current case on the Voting Rights Act, in which Congress had adopted the same “findings” today as it did at the VRA’s inception–in 1965.

The Fourth Circuit went on to list several other “findings” (I won’t reproduce them here; if you click through to the Volokh Conspiracy and then to the opinion itself, you can read them on pp. 26-28). This reads like a litany of standard gun control fears–essentially that liberalized carry will take us back to the wild west. It hasn’t (for example, despite similar claims by opponents of Virginia’s bar and restaurant carry bill, crime didn’t increase–it dropped).

Maryland essentially argued that they should be able to deny carry licenses to the vast majority of applicants because of public safety, and the Fourth Circuit went along with it (citing heavily to the Second Circuit’s opinion in Kachalsky, but doing its best to minimize the Seventh Circuit’s opinion in Moore).

Professor Volokh appears to take a dim view of the court’s deference to the legislature’s findings (especially coupled with this standard of review) and notes that “a constitutional right that can be trumped in nearly all its applications, under whatever level of scrutiny, is not really a right.”

I agree.

I would go further, though. The various circuits, in KachalskyPeterson, and now in Woollard are focusing too much on Heller and McDonald‘s language regarding the “core” Second Amendment right. The right of armed self-defense may be strongest in the home, but as the Seventh Circuit noted in Moore, that does not mean that it is nonexistent elsewhere. 

I only have one other thing to say about this case–I’m very glad it came out today and not last Thursday, or I would have had to stay up all night reworking certain parts of my law review note so I could turn it in on Friday.

03/17/2013

In the immortal words of Michael Bay*

by wfgodbold

Shit just got real.

Yes, the IMF and the EU rammed a ~10% tax on bank account assets down Cyprus’s throat as a condition of Cyprus’s bailout (I’m not even going to get into whether bailouts are a good idea or not in this post).

The IMF/EU decided to do this on Saturday, after the banks closed.**

And the 10% “tax” will be removed from bank accounts before they open on Monday.

I’m not normally one to lambast all taxation as theft, but if a bunch of foreigners I didn’t vote for and who aren’t accountable to me or my countrymen come in the night to take money out of my bank account, I don’t see how it can be called anything else.

The article is full of quotes from various non-Cypriots, before finally, in the preantepenultimate paragraph, stating “Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiades attended the talks.”***

I’m sure the DutchFinance Minister, the head of the IMF, the head of the European Central Bank, and the French Finance Minister, all of whom were involved in coming to this “agreement,” did so with heavy heart. After all, the Cypriots might fire them in the next election…

The nature of the EU and its shared currency has lead to this problem (just as it lead to the problem of Greece, etc.). Member countries must sacrifice their own best interests and that of their countrymen on the altar of the euro, and do so in vain. The European countries, their economies, and their cultures were distinct before the union. Expecting homogeneity to result from an unthinking merger into a bureaucratic state that is united only by a shared currency was folly.

The American colonists only thought they were taxed without representation in the years leading up to the Revolution–at least they were being taxed by their own government.

Cyprus is being taxed by foreigners. It’s hard to have less representation than that.

*Yes, gentle reader, I know that Michael Bay only directed Bad Boys II, and did not actually write it. But do you know who wrote it?

I thought not.

**And if you don’t think the powers that be in the EU knew about this before the close of business on Friday and transferred their money out of any accounts in Cyprus, just like how JFK didn’t sign the Cuba embargo until he had gotten 1200 Cuban cigars, I’ve got a bridge you might be interested in buying.

***The astute reader will notice that yes, the Cypriot Finance Minister was mentioned earlier than the Cypriot president, but also that despite his mention in the article, he was not quoted.

03/03/2013

Remember, gentle reader, that under federal law, “firearm” has a very specific definition

by wfgodbold

A firearm is:

(1) a shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length; (2) a weapon made from a shotgun if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length; (3) a rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length; (4) a weapon made from a rifle if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length; (5) any other weapon, as defined in subsection (e); (6) a machinegun; (7) any silencer (as defined in section 921 of Title 18, United States Code); and (8) a destructive device.

Under federal law, all such “firearms” must be registered. From the definition, regular handguns, rifles, and shotguns are not included. Only short-barreled rifles & shotguns, machine guns, silencers, destructive devices, and AOWs are “firearms.” Possession of unregistered firearms is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

So when you read, gentle reader, that President Obama has pardoned someone for “possession of an unregistered firearm,” it means that the person pardoned had either a short-barreled rifle/shotgun, a machine gun, a silencer, a destructive device, or an AOW that was not registered with the ATF.

Now, it could be that Obama now thinks that heavily restricting the possession of firearms is a bad idea. If so, I agree, and I look forward to any proposal for repealing the NFA the president brings forward. Suppressors are great safety devices, and short barrels make rifles far less unwieldy. I shouldn’t have to pay a $200 tax stamp to the government to possess them, and I certainly shouldn’t be prevented from lending them to friends or family (I’m not even going to address the ridiculous necessity of gun trusts the NFA has foisted on us).

Considering Obama’s continued push for standard capacity magazine bans and a reinstatement of the ban on so-called assault weapons, I doubt that’s the case.

01/22/2013

If you don’t know what something means, look it up before shooting your mouth off

by wfgodbold

Yesterday, inspired by the inauguration and Roman History, I tweeted:

This morning, I awoke to a response to that tweet in DestroyTwitter that had sadly been deleted before I could get a screenshot on the actual Twitter page:

memento moriNow, I am fully aware that threatening the POTUS is a crime. It is a serious crime, and rightly so.

However, I did not threaten anyone; I suggested that the pomp of the inauguration might be best offset by having a non-politician, regular person follow the president around and remind him that he too, is mortal, and that this shall pass.

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