Are Stand Your Ground Laws in Florida Racist?: Some regression evidence

I have previously posted here a long discussion on the simple averages regarding the characteristics of those involved in "Stand Your Ground" cases in Florida.  The data from the Tampa Bay Tribune is available here (also here).  Yet, there are real limits to using just simple means because that approach assumes that the cases involving blacks and whites are the same.  The Tribune has collected a lot of information on everything from the race and gender of the person shot and the shooter to the following questions:
Did the victim initiate the confrontation? 
Was the victim armed? 
Was the victim committing a crime that led to the confrontation? 
Did the defendant pursue the victim? 
Could the defendant have retreated to avoid the conflict? 
Was the defendant on his or her property? 
Did someone witness the attack? 
Was there physical evidence?  
Case type 
Alleged Home Invasion
Alleged sexual assault
Argument over love interest
Argument turned violent
Attempted car theft
Attempted home invasion
Attempted robbery
Citizen enforcing the law
Dispute over money/property
Domestic argument
Domestic dispute
Drug deal gone bad
Fight at bar/party
Home invasion
Neighborhood dispute
Road Rage
Roommate Dispute
Teenage bullying
Unprovoked attack 
Case year
Before I lose people by reporting the regressions below, let me provide a brief verbal discussion.  There is a simple problem with comparing the mean conviction rates as I have done earlier.  Just because two people are charged with murder doesn't mean the two cases are identical.  Using the Tribune data, blacks killed in these confrontations were 13 percentage points more likely to be armed than the whites who were killed, thus making it more plausible that their killers reasonably believed that they had little choice but to kill their attacker.  By a 43 to 16 percent margin, the blacks killed were also more often committing a crime.  Further, there were also more cases with a witness around when a black was killed (69 to 62 percent).

Everything else equal, in cases with only one person killed, killing a black rather than a white increases the defendant's odds of being convicted doubles, though the result is not statistically significant.  If you also include multiple murder cases, killing a black increases the chances of conviction even more.

Regression looking at the odds of someone being convicted of murder for those who have killed one person.

xi: logit convicted VictimHispanic VictimWhite VictimBlack VictimMale DefendantHispanic DefendantWhite DefendantBlack DefendantMale DidVictimInitiateConfrontation WastheVictimArmed WasVictimCommittingCrime DidDefendantPursueVictim CouldDefendantRetreat WasDefendantonHisProperty DidSomeoneWitnessAttack WasTherePhysicalEvidence othermurdered  casetype_2-casetype_25 year_2006-year_2012 if pending=="Decided" & MurderVictim2sRace =="NA", or robust

Logistic regression                Number of obs =    66
                                   Wald chi2(29) =     .
                                   Prob > chi2=     .
Log pseudolikelihood =   -20.7842  Pseudo R2     =0.5408

             |               Robust
   convicted | Odds Ratio   Std. Err.      z    P>|z|
VictimHisp~c |   .0009022    .002332    -2.71   0.007
 VictimWhite |   .4247123   .9166847    -0.40   0.692
 VictimBlack |   1.174415   4.496167     0.04   0.967
DefendantW~e |    34.6601   89.92937     1.37   0.172
DefendantB~k |   4.915077   12.41981     0.63   0.529
DefendantM~e |    .340511   .5529446    -0.66   0.507
DidVictimI~n |   .0137108   .0348234    -1.69   0.091
WastheVict~d |   .0721759   .2389135    -0.79   0.427
WasVictimC~e |   3.043378   12.33578     0.27   0.784
DidDefenda~m |   1.635232   3.278233     0.25   0.806
CouldDefen~t |   1.475613   2.438766     0.24   0.814
WasDefenda~y |   4.778653   5.087016     1.47   0.142
DidSomeone~k |   22.62614   40.55751     1.74   0.082
WasTherePh~e |   .2503723   .2216539    -1.56   0.118
  casetype_3 |   7.49e+08   1.75e+09     8.77   0.000
  casetype_4 |   8.24e+08   2.21e+09     7.63   0.000
  casetype_8 |   1.74e+10   3.81e+10    10.76   0.000
  casetype_9 |   2.10e+09   5.48e+09     8.22   0.000
 casetype_10 |   1.60e+09   2.58e+09    13.13   0.000
 casetype_12 |   1.84e+09   5.58e+09     7.04   0.000
 casetype_13 |   1.08e+12   3.20e+12     9.37   0.000
 casetype_14 |   1.46e+09   4.26e+09     7.24   0.000
 casetype_15 |   4.84e+08   1.89e+09     5.12   0.000
 casetype_17 |   1.11e+08   3.26e+08     6.34   0.000
 casetype_25 |   2.62e+08          .        .       .
   year_2006 |   .6355305   1.720501    -0.17   0.867
   year_2007 |   .0931599   .4768633    -0.46   0.643
   year_2008 |   .0573326   .2092783    -0.78   0.434
   year_2009 |   1.008875   2.457142     0.00   0.997
   year_2010 |   63.62403   200.2368     1.32   0.187
Note: 1 failure and 0 successes completely determined.

. test VictimWhite=VictimBlack

 ( 1)  VictimWhite - VictimBlack = 0

           chi2(  1) =    0.04
         Prob > chi2 = 0.8386

. test VictimHispanic=VictimBlack

 ( 1)  VictimHispanic - VictimBlack = 0

           chi2(  1) =    2.55
         Prob > chi2 = 0.1100

. test VictimHispanic=VictimWhite

 ( 1)  VictimHispanic - VictimWhite = 0

           chi2(  1) =    4.91
         Prob > chi2 = 0.0267

. test DefendantWhite=DefendantBlack

 ( 1)  DefendantWhite - DefendantBlack = 0

           chi2(  1) =    0.23
         Prob > chi2 = 0.6316

Regression looking at the odds of someone being convicted of murder for those who have killed one or more people.

. xi: logit convicted VictimHispanic VictimWhite VictimBlack VictimMale DefendantHispanic DefendantWhite DefendantBlack DefendantMale DidVictimInitiateConfrontation WastheVictimArmed WasVictimCommittingCrime DidDefendantPursueVictim CouldDefendantRetreat WasDefendantonHisProperty DidSomeoneWitnessAttack WasTherePhysicalEvidence othermurdered  casetype_2-casetype_25 year_2006-year_2012 if pending=="Decided", or robust

Logistic regression                Number of obs =    78
                                   Wald chi2(32) =     .
                                   Prob > chi2=     .
Log pseudolikelihood = -22.785937  Pseudo R2     =0.5735

             |               Robust
   convicted | Odds Ratio   Std. Err.      z    P>|z|
VictimHisp~c |   .0000949   .0003103    -2.83   0.005
 VictimWhite |    .238639   .4879525    -0.70   0.483
 VictimBlack |   3.390464   9.382387     0.44   0.659
DefendantH~c |   5.55e-13   1.35e-12   -11.61   0.000
DefendantW~e |   7.55e-11   2.26e-10    -7.78   0.000
DefendantB~k |   1.91e-12          .        .       . 
DefendantM~e |   .2819811   .5277879    -0.68   0.499
DidVictimI~n |   .0078562   .0144318    -2.64   0.008
WastheVict~d |   .0895871   .2060086    -1.05   0.294
WasVictimC~e |   2.951656   9.628308     0.33   0.740
DidDefenda~m |   1.935009   3.692359     0.35   0.729
CouldDefen~t |   1.207219    1.75638     0.13   0.897
WasDefenda~y |    3.68262   2.776331     1.73   0.084
DidSomeone~k |   34.60143   52.71921     2.33   0.020
WasTherePh~e |    .236634   .2656798    -1.28   0.199
othermurde~d |   54.95588   119.1862     1.85   0.065
  casetype_3 |   240.5917   643.6653     2.05   0.040
  casetype_4 |   71.61738   152.6067     2.00   0.045
  casetype_8 |   4369.197   16026.35     2.29   0.022
  casetype_9 |   1132.737   3854.253     2.07   0.039
 casetype_10 |   183.0676   402.9866     2.37   0.018
 casetype_12 |   468.6694   1215.575     2.37   0.018
 casetype_13 |   553160.6    2506482     2.92   0.004
 casetype_14 |   1170.289   3029.217     2.73   0.006
 casetype_15 |    84.6564   416.3267     0.90   0.367
 casetype_17 |   24.15446   60.33759     1.27   0.202
 casetype_25 |   37.81938   87.88588     1.56   0.118
   year_2006 |   .1661872   .3844092    -0.78   0.438
   year_2007 |   .0113472   .0417041    -1.22   0.223
   year_2008 |   .0095219   .0326906    -1.36   0.175
   year_2009 |   .3936484   .9631961    -0.38   0.703
   year_2010 |   44.73127    123.881     1.37   0.170
   year_2011 |   .0005799    .001551    -2.79   0.005
Note: 0 failures and 1 success completely determined.

. test VictimWhite=VictimBlack

 ( 1)  VictimWhite - VictimBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    0.57
         Prob > chi2 = 0.4505

. test VictimHispanic=VictimBlack

 ( 1)  VictimHispanic - VictimBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    6.13
         Prob > chi2 = 0.0133

. test VictimHispanic=VictimWhite

 ( 1)  VictimHispanic - VictimWhite = 0
           chi2(  1) =    6.41
         Prob > chi2 = 0.0113

. test DefendantWhite=DefendantBlack

 ( 1)  DefendantWhite - DefendantBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    1.51
         Prob > chi2 = 0.2198

. test DefendantWhite=DefendantHispanic

 ( 1) - DefendantHispanic + DefendantWhite = 0
           chi2(  1) =    6.22
         Prob > chi2 = 0.0127

. test DefendantBlack=DefendantHispanic

 ( 1) - DefendantHispanic + DefendantBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    0.26
         Prob > chi2 = 0.6105

I have tried other specifications, but there is no evidence that black and white defendants or black and white victims are treated differently.  For example, here is the simplest specification with just the victim's race and gender and defendant's race and gender as well as the number of people murdered.

. xi: logit convicted VictimHispanic VictimWhite VictimBlack VictimMale DefendantHispanic DefendantWhite DefendantBlack DefendantMale othermurdered   if pending=="Decided", or robust

Iteration 0:   log pseudolikelihood = -71.958988
Iteration 1:   log pseudolikelihood = -65.974128
Iteration 2:   log pseudolikelihood = -65.940597
Iteration 3:   log pseudolikelihood = -65.940546
Iteration 4:   log pseudolikelihood = -65.940546

Logistic regression                Number of obs = 111
                                   Wald chi2(9)  = 8.59
                                   Prob > chi2   = 0.4762
Log pseudolikelihood = -65.940546  Pseudo R2     = 0.0836

             |               Robust
   convicted | Odds Ratio   Std. Err.      z    P>|z| 
VictimHisp~c |   .3791321    .580078    -0.63   0.526
 VictimWhite |   1.009958   1.446379     0.01   0.994
 VictimBlack |   .4897925   .7041905    -0.50   0.620
  VictimMale |   .1134137   .1374925    -1.80   0.073
DefendantH~c |   1.415624   2.026775     0.24   0.808
DefendantW~e |   1.587212   1.956111     0.37   0.708
DefendantB~k |   2.120857   2.711162     0.59   0.556
DefendantM~e |   .7934841   .4977044    -0.37   0.712
othermurde~d |   6.797993   7.429584     1.75   0.079

. test VictimWhite=VictimBlack

 ( 1)  VictimWhite - VictimBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    1.93
         Prob > chi2 =    0.1650

. test VictimHispanic=VictimBlack

 ( 1)  VictimHispanic - VictimBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    0.10
         Prob > chi2 =    0.7566

. test VictimHispanic=VictimWhite

 ( 1)  VictimHispanic - VictimWhite = 0
           chi2(  1) =    1.41
         Prob > chi2 =    0.2353

. test DefendantWhite=DefendantBlack

 ( 1)  DefendantWhite - DefendantBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    0.28
         Prob > chi2 =    0.5939

. test DefendantWhite=DefendantHispanic

 ( 1) - DefendantHispanic + DefendantWhite = 0
           chi2(  1) =    0.02
         Prob > chi2 =    0.8918

. test DefendantBlack=DefendantHispanic

 ( 1) - DefendantHispanic + DefendantBlack = 0
           chi2(  1) =    0.23
         Prob > chi2 =    0.6324

I suspect that there are real biases in how this data is collected.  An obvious example is how the Tampa Bay Tribune classified the Zimmerman case.

For example, many would strongly disagree with the newspaper's contention that Martin did not initiate the confrontation, that Zimmerman was pursuing Martin at the time of their confrontation, and that Zimmerman could have retreated to avoid the conflict.  The point here is that even using the data with the obvious liberal bias in terms of how this data was entered, the results do not support the claims of bias against blacks.

Labels: ,

Bill to ban Stand Your Ground laws introduced in House

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee reintroduced the so-called Justice Exists for Us All Act to Congress this past Wednesday. The Daily Caller has this:

Under the Justice Exists proposal, states that didn’t amend their stand-your-ground laws and require a “duty to retreat” would face a 20 percent cut to previously allocated funds. 
Additionally, to avoid the cut in funds, states would have to require local neighborhood watch programs to register with local law enforcement. . . .
Meanwhile the Congressional Black Caucus has launched a general campaign for more gun control.  It is too bad that they miss out on what motivates the gangs to begin with.
Gathered in Chicago on Friday, the lawmakers hosted an emergency summit to examine strategies for reining in urban shootings, with an eye well beyond the gun control measures that have lost all steam on Capitol Hill. . . . . 
The issue of gun violence was ubiquitous earlier in the year, as President Obama urged Congress to confront the problem with a long list of proposals addressing everything from gun access to mental health. The push was a direct response to December's shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a lone gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children. . . . .
The issue of gun violence was ubiquitous earlier in the year, as President Obama urged Congress to confront the problem with a long list of proposals addressing everything from gun access to mental health. The push was a direct response to December's shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a lone gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children. . . .

Meanwhile the Jay Z claims the Zimmerman verdict shows: "I was really angry about it. We all still knew it was still a bit of racism in America but to be so blatant?"   One has to wonder whether people actually listen to the trial.
"If you ask yourself the question, Didn't Trayvon have a right to stand his ground?" he said. "He was being chased. He fought back. He may have won. That doesn't mean he was a criminal." . . .


The IRS employees who are responsible for enforcing Obamacare don't want to be in the program

Might the agency responsible for enforcing Obamacare know something about the problems with the program?  From the Washington Examiner:
National Taxpayer Employee Union officials are urging members to write their congressional representatives in opposition to receiving coverage through President Obama’s health care law.
The union leaders are providing members with a form letter to send to the congressmen that says “I am very concerned about legislation that has been introduced by Congressman Dave Camp to push federal employees out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and into the insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act.”
The NTEU represents 150,000 federal employees overall, including most of the nearly 100,000 IRS workers.
Like most other federal workers, IRS employees currently get their health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which also covers members of Congress. . . .



Is the Obama administration distorting how many terrorist attacks are being stopped by the surveillance programs?

Ron Wyden claims the assertions about the benefits of collecting telephone calls is false.  From Politico:
. . . "There has been an effort by officials to exaggerate the effectiveness of the bulk phone records collection program by conflating it with the collection of Internet communications under section 702 of the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] statute. This collection, which involves th ePRISM computer system, has produced some information of real value," Wyden said in a speech to the Center for American Progress. "I won’t deny that this value exists. Meanwhile, I have not seen any indication that the bulk phone records program yielded any unique intelligence that was not also available to the government through less intrusive means.
. . . "The public was not just kept in the dark about the Patriot Act and other secret authorities. The public was actively misled," he said. 
The Oregon Democrat contended that the conflation of the phone-call tracking program, sometimes called Section 215, and the foreign web interception program, often called Section 702, fit this pattern of deliberate distortion. 
"When government officials refer to these programs collectively, and say that 'these programs' provided unique intelligence, without pointing out that one program is doing all the work and the other is basically just along for the ride, in my judgment that is also a misleading statement," Wyden said. . . .
On a strange note, liberal Democrat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is taking credit for killing Rep. Justin Amash's amendment to limit telephone surveillance to those who the government has a reason to suspect.  From The Cable:
Ahead of the razor-thin 205-217 vote . . . Pelosi privately and aggressively lobbied wayward Democrats to torpedo the amendment, a Democratic committee aid with knowledge of the deliberations tells The Cable.   
"Pelosi had meetings and made a plea to vote against the amendment and that had a much bigger effect on swing Democratic votes against the amendment than anything Alexander had to say," said the source, keeping in mind concerted White House efforts to influence Congress by Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. "Had Pelosi not been as forceful as she had been, it's unlikely there would've been more Democrats for the amendment." . . .



How one Democratic pollster summarizes Obama's big economic speech yesterday, division and polarization

Doug Schoen, who was Bill Clinton's pollster when Clinton was president, has this at Forbes:
Obama doubled down on his approach in 2012: division, polarization and moving to the left. 
Much like in 2012, the President placed little emphasis on tax reform or growth. He spoke of bringing jobs back to America – specifically in manufacturing – but did not reveal many details of how he would achieve this. 
We heard some talk of balancing the budget and deficit reduction, cornerstone issues of the protracted battle in the House at the end of last year and beginning of 2013. But there was no talk of a long-term deficit reduction plan or plan for entitlement reform that will save crucial programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 
The President emphasized redistribution above all else, but with, again, no long-term plan as to how he would finally make this approach an effective one. Indeed, he hid behind the terms “ineffective government” and “broken Washington,” giving himself leeway in not having solved the economic problems that he promised to fix in both 2008 and 2012. . . .

Labels: , ,

Might advances in 3-D printing might soon make it really possible to make working guns?

There have been a real problem with using 3-D printing to make guns, the barrel of the gun hasn't been able to withstand the pressure from the explosion of the bullet.  If 3-D printing can make parts that can withstand the explosive pressure of a rocket engine, might they be able to withstand the explosive pressure of a gun?  From QZ.com:
Even if 3-D printing doesn’t change the economy, it has the potential to change manufacturing—making it cheaper and capable of producing better parts and products.  
Now the NASA space agency and Aerojet Rocketdyne say they have successfully tested a rocket engine injector that was made using powerful lasers to “melt and fuse fine metallic powders into three-dimensional structures”—read, 3-D printing. . . .  
According to the engineers behind the project, the test results matter because, unlike a lot of the basic structures created by 3-D printing, the components inside rocket engines must be machined to extremely exacting standards. If they can withstand the heat and pressure of burning rocket fuel while maintaining high performance, it’s a sign that the techniques behind 3-D printing can have major applications in all kinds of machining scenarios. . . .


More evidence that critics of Stand Your Ground laws (including Trayvon's father) haven't actually read the statutes

If you read the actual state laws, people aren't allowed to rely on the Stand Your Ground provisions if they initiated the conflict.  From US News:
In an emotional speech before members of Congress Wednesday, Tracy Martin, the father of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, urged lawmakers to consider a "Trayvon Martin Act" to amend Florida's "stand your ground" law.
"Stand your ground" allows people to use physical force in self-defense without a duty to retreat and served as the backdrop in the recent "not guilty" verdict for George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Martin's son Trayvon, who was unarmed.
The "Trayvon Martin Act" would amend "stand your ground" to make it illegal for a person acting in self-defense if that person was the initial aggressor.
Martin said the act would help establish a future in which people "can't profile our children, shoot them in the heart and then say that you're defending yourself." . . .
Here is the Pennsylvania version of their Stand Your Ground law.

(i)  the actor, with the intent of causing death or serious bodily injury, provoked the use of force against himself in the same encounter; or
(ii)  the actor knows that he can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety by retreating, except the actor is not obliged to retreat from his dwelling or place of work, unless he was the initial aggressor or is assailed in his place of work by another person whose place of work the actor knows it to be. . . .

Here is the relevant part of Florida's law:
776.041 Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
(1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:(a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.History.—s. 13, ch. 74-383; s. 1190, ch. 97-102.
Isn't it pretty clear that even under Florida law if you initiate the confrontation you aren't allowed to Stand Your Ground.  

Labels: ,

And then there were four: with North Carolina's new law, only four states still ban carrying guns in places that serve alcohol

The above map needs to be updated.  Note that with Illinois recently passing a law (though people won't be able to carry until next year) and now with North Carolina, only four states ban carrying guns in places that serve alcohol.  The bigger news here might be letting people lock their guns in university parking lots.  From the Associated Press:
North Carolina lawmakers have approved a bill greatly expanding where concealed handguns are legally allowed.
The Republican-backed bill approved by both the House and Senate on Tuesday allows concealed-carry permit holders to take firearms into bars and restaurants and other places where alcohol is served as long as the owner doesn't expressly forbid it.
The measure will also allow concealed-carry permit holders to store weapons in locked cars on the campus of any public school or university. Guns will also now be allowed on greenways, playgrounds and other public recreation areas. . . .

Labels: ,

Why humans have an Appendix

As someone who had their appendix burst a few years ago, I have wondered why we have these organs.  The traditional view has been that the appendix was a residual organ that was no longer used.  From ABC News:
The researchers say it acts as a safe house for good bacteria, which can be used to effectively reboot the gut following a bout of dysentery or cholera. 
The conventional wisdom is that the small pouch protruding from the first part of the large intestine is redundant and many people have their appendix removed and appear none the worse for it. 
Scientists from the Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina say following a severe bout of cholera or dysentery, which can purge the gut of bacteria essential for digestion, the reserve good bacteria emerge from the appendix to take up the role. . . .



Black Congresswoman thinks that Zimmerman trial shows America treats blacks as inferior to whites

From Fox Nation:

“The tragic death of our young man, Trayvon Martin, followed by the acquittal of the man who pursued him and killed him, has reminded us that although it may seem as if African-Americans and other minorities have achieved full equality in our civil society, we are still victims of racial profiling in violation of our laws and our morals,” Ms. Clarke said, from the House floor, The Hill reported. 
She continued: “The lives of black men and women are not accorded the same value as the lives of white Americans. This is a reality for far too many black Americans.
Ms. Clarke is Democrat from New York. . . .

The New York Daily News has this reaction from Rep. Clarke to the Zimmerman verdict.
REP. CLARKE: “We know that Trayvon Martin would have been living today if George Zimmerman had not pursued him with a firearm. I am disappointed that the laws of Florida have failed to secure justice for Trayvon and his family. Our children are not safe if private citizens have the authority to act as vigilantes. My prayers are with the parents of Trayvon Martin, who have demonstrated extraordinary courage in this awful tragedy."
Here is Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) discussion of what Brooklyn was like in 1898 (start at 3:04 into the video).

Labels: ,

Even Moderate and Conservative turn against Obamacare

The poll results are available here.


Yet more examples of the Obama administration's lawless behavior

The Obama administration has an attitude where they do whatever they want regardless of the law and simply force people to have to bring lawsuits against them.  It is an interesting strategy.  Sometimes they win simply because their opponents can't afford the legal costs to challenge them.  But the Obama administration can use taxpayer dollars to pay for their legal costs.  It is hard not to call this behavior "lawless."  From a piece in USA Today:
When a president pursues policies that require such expansive federal power that he can't get a single justice to agree, something is probably amiss. . . . 
In Horne v. Department of Agriculture, a decision issued in June, the justices unanimously rejected the Obama administration's argument that raisin farmers did not have the right to go to court to contest the seizure of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of raisins. The Fifth Amendment states that the government must pay "just compensation" whenever the government takes private property for "public use." But the administration claimed that farmers could not even raise the takings issue in court without first enduring lengthy delays and paying a $483,000 fine.  
Horne was the administration's third unanimous defeat in a property rights case in 18 months. . . .   
In Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. United States, it unsuccessfully argued that the Fifth Amendment doesn't require compensation when the federal government repeatedly and deliberately floods property owners' land. Even liberal justices normally skeptical of property rights claims, including one of President Obama's appointees, found these arguments too much to swallow.   
The Obama administration has also suffered unanimous defeats in several other important cases.   
Last year, the justices rejected the administration's position that the religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment does not apply to churches' decisons to hire and fire employees with religious duties, such as teaching theology. Obama appointee Justice Elena Kagan called the administration's position "amazing."   
In United States v. Jones, another 2012 case, the justices unanimously rejected the administration's claim that the Fourth Amendment does not restrict the government's authority to attach a GPS tracking device to a car. . . .


Appearance on the "The Steve Malzberg Show" to discuss "Stand Your Ground" Law


Why do people like Scarborough mischaracterize the Trayvon Martin case?

Joe Scarborough on Trayvon Martin:
I hear he had marijuana in his system. You've seen "Reefer Madness," you know what happens. Really? Really? In 2013, Sean? Come on. Whatever excuse there is to say this young black man had it coming to him, that is the defense. Because there is no defense for shooting down a young black man in a middle class neighborhood with Skittles. Armed with Skittles. . . .
Seriously?  The reason that Trayvon was shot was because he was physically attacking Zimmerman.  Why is it necessary to set up these straw men type arguments?  Whether Martin had drugs in his system or not isn't important, what is important is how he behaved.  The issue of drugs was raised simply because it might make Trayvon's violence more understandable.  Even a prosecution witness, the medical examiner from Sanford, Shiping Bao, thought that the level of drugs in Martin's system could have impacted his judgment.  
Defense attorney Don West also noted that Bao changed his mind on whether marijuana found in Martin’s blood could have affected him that night — the doctor initially said it didn’t, but then backtracked. . . .
But again, the point is the violence, not why Martin engaged in the violence.

For whatever it is worth:

"If you do a Google Search for 'Purple Lean' or 'lean drink' or 'lean drank' it is sort of an urban kind of drug. It's known in some circles as poor man's ecstasy or something like that," George Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax. 
"The main ingredients are watermelon, Arizona watermelon juice, a hard candy … for sweetness, and then some type of either codeine tablets if you can get them or Coricidin D, Robitussin DM," he explained. 
"It's an intoxicant and it's a fairly significant one," O'Mara said. . . .

Labels: ,

CNN admits that it doesn't have enough conservatives, but still thinks that they are "down-the-middle"

President Obama vs. state Senator Obama on Stand Your Ground laws

Illinois is one of the states that don't demand that people retreat as far as possible before defending themselves.  Little did I know that Obama was one of the people who helped push for this change to become law.  From the WSJ:
In his remarks last Friday on George Zimmerman's acquittal, the President said it would be wise to "examine" state and local laws governing the use of firearms in self-defense. He suggested that "stand your ground" provisions are "sending a message" that "someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there's a way for them to exit from a situation." He asked: "Is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we'd like to see?" 
It turns out that Mr. Obama participated in such an examination almost a decade ago and emerged as a stand-your-ground proponent. Illinois Review, a conservative blog, recently unearthed Illinois Senate records showing that then-state Senator Obama voted for and even co-sponsored a 2004 bill that expanded the protection of the state's 1961 stand-your-ground law to include immunity from civil liability for people who use deadly force to defend themselves or their property. The bill wasn't controversial in the liberal legislature, passing the Senate without dissent and the state House with only two nays before then-Governor Rod Blagojevich, also a Democrat, signed it. . . .

Thanks to Tony Troglio for this link.

Labels: ,

Anthony Weiner used pen name in internet chat rooms

From the Washington Post:
In an extraordinary news conference Tuesday beside his wife, Huma Abedin, Weiner confirmed an account on the gossip site the Dirty, which reported a series of explicit conversations and lewd photos that the former congressman exchanged with a young woman, all apparently under the nom de plume Carlos Danger. Weiner, who resigned from office when his habit of tweeting dirty selfies became public two years ago, has repeatedly stated that other such digital indiscretions could surface, a point he made again Tuesday evening. But as his wife looked on, he also confirmed that some of those erotic messages were sent after his resignation from Congress, and well into his redemption tour, including after a July 2012 People magazine article in which Abedin said that Weiner had spent “every day” since the scandal working to be the “best dad and husband” possible. . . .


Washington Post/ABC News: "Eighty-six percent of African Americans disapproved of the not guilty verdict [in Zimmerman case] with just 9 percent approving"

Here is my puzzle: Hispanics and Blacks make up the same share of the Washington Post/ABC News sample, but they only report the breakdown for blacks, not Hispanics.  Why?
Eighty-six percent of African Americans disapproved of the not guilty verdict with just 9 percent approving, according to the Washington Post-ABC News poll on Monday. That’s compared to 51 percent of whites who supported the verdict and 31 percent who disapproved.
Reactions to the verdict also split across party lines, with 22 percent of Democrats approving of the verdict and 62 percent disapproving, while 65 percent of Republicans approve of the verdict compared to just 20 percent who disapprove. . . .
According to the poll, 81 percent of African Americans think Zimmerman should be charged by the federal government for violating Martin’s civil rights, while just 3 percent think he should not be charged. Only 27 percent of whites think Zimmerman should be charged by the federal government compared to 59 percent who think he should not be charged. . . .

Labels: ,


Politico finds systematic bias in IRS evaluation of liberal and conservative organizations

Politico found just two examples of liberal organizations — Emerge America and Progress Texas —  that underwent stiffer scrutiny.  One of them got turned down (Emerge America) and the other was approved (Progress Texas), but the one that got turned down was set up "primarily for the benefit of a political party."  If liberal groups are being given preferential treatment, it isn't too surprising to find that one group would push the boundary so far that they would cross even what the Obama administration was willing to accept.  It surely doesn't explain why hundreds of conservative groups were delayed for years.
. . . POLITICO surveyed the liberal groups from an IRS list of advocacy organizations that were approved after the tougher examinations started. The review found some examples of liberal groups facing scrutiny similar to their conservative counterparts — they were asked for copies of web pages, actions alerts, and written materials from all of their events. 
But those harsh investigations were more rare than what POLITICO had found when it surveyed conservative groups at the beginning of the scandal. And the questions themselves appear less invasive, overall. 
So while liberals have some reason to complain about the IRS, the disparity in treatment does help explain why the conservative piece became a runaway story while the liberal side did not. . . .


Wikipedia "edit wars"

Beware of Wikipedia discussions on controversial topics.
Articles about ex-US President George W Bush and anarchism are the most hotly contested on Wikipedia's English-language edition, research suggests. 
Scientists analysed page edits in 10 editions to find topics fought over by contributors to the open encyclopaedia. . . .
Researchers from the University of Oxford and three other institutions analysed logs of the changes made to Wikipedia pages to identify those in the throes of an "edit war". Such a conflict involves editors of pages making changes that are almost instantly undone by another editor. . . . 

  • George W Bush
  • Anarchism
  • The Prophet Muhammad
  • World Wrestling Entertainment employees
  • Global warming
  • Circumcision
  • The United States
  • Jesus
  • Race and intelligence
  • Christianity
  • Labels:


    Lois Lerner knew that rogue agents in Cincinnati weren't responsible for the IRS scandal because she was involved herself

    With this information coming out, it is understandable that Obama chose Friday for speaking out on the Zimmerman case.  From National Review Online:
    Testimony from key witnesses indicates that the embattled former head of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations division and her senior adviser, Judith Kindell, involved the chief counsel’s office in the processing of tea-party applications. At issue were two “test” applications elevated from the agency’s Cincinnati outpost to its headquarters in Washington, D.C., the handling of which was supposed to guide the treatment of the remainder of the tea-party cases that sat in Cincinnati. Though three years has elapsed since one of applications was filed, IRS lawyers say the organization that applied for tax-exempt status has yet to hear from Lerner’s team at the IRS. . . . .


    John McCain's call for Arizona to review its "Stand Your Ground" law

    Add McCain's name to the list of people who mistakenly think that the Zimmerman trial had something to do with Stand Your Ground laws.
    Arizona Sen. John McCain says his home state should review its "stand-your-ground" law in the wake of George Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
    The Republican senator said he trusted the jury's judgment in the case, but added Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that the law "may be something that needs to be reviewed."
    Does he think that applies to Arizona?
    "Yes, I do and I’m confident that members of the Arizona legislature will," McCain said. . . .
    Well, the Republican governor in Arizona doesn't agree with McCain.
    "I support stand your ground," Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said last week. . . .
    It doesn't appear as if any states are going to move undo these laws.

    At least Ted Cruz understands the issues here.


    A liberal's comments on New Jersey's very nutty gun control laws

    Jay R. Lassiter discusses his extraordinary experience in trying to buy BB guns for a nephew and niece.    The piece (available here) is well worth reading.  It contains everything from him not even being allowed to look at BB guns until he has obtained a license to the bizarre licensing process itself.  While the piece mentions the delays in getting the license, the one point that I would have emphasized would be the impact of the delay on people's ability to get a gun for self defense.

    Labels: ,

    John Kass has a tough evaluation of Obama's Trayvon Martin speech on Friday

    I would add the fact that President Obama also raised the point about him being racially profiled when he was younger.  In addition, after the Obama administration has been saying this past week how inappropriate it would be to speak out on the Zimmerman case while DOJ was trying to decide whether to prosecute Zimmerman, he goes and speaks out on the case. 

    Q    Even though the jury in this case has spoken, the Justice Department is still considering whether to file criminal civil rights charges.  Does the President feel like that decision needs to be made quickly in order to have some kind of finality to this case?
    MR. CARNEY:  This is a decision made by the Justice Department, by career prosecutors, and all questions about how that process is undertaken should be directed there.  And that is not something the President involves himself in.  As the Justice Department said yesterday, they first acknowledged last year that they have an open investigation into Trayvon Martin’s death and they are continuing to evaluate that evidence.
    Q    But since the President did speak about this case last year in pretty personal terms, did he have any personal reaction to the verdict?  Does he have any personal feelings on the need for the Justice Department to make a decision on this quickly?
    MR. CARNEY:  Well, he has no opinion to express about the disposition of how the Justice Department would look at this.  He did speak about it in personal terms, and I think his statement yesterday reflects how the loss of a young person is a source of great anguish and pain for the parents of that person, for the community where that person lived -- that young person lived, and for the whole country, because the loss is greater when a young person dies because the potential of that life is so unfulfilled.
    So I think that’s how the President viewed it then and views it now. . . .

    John's piece has this, but the whole piece is worth reading.  From the Chicago Tribune:
    . . . He stood in the White House briefing room, and through the magic of his own silky rhetoric and skill with metaphor, he was able animate the body of a slain African-American teenager, Trayvon Martin.
    Obama pronounced the killing as racially motivated, though he didn't use the words. He didn't have to, such is his prowess. It was so smooth that few noticed. He put the killing in a racial context, and that was enough.
    "You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago," Obama told reporters at the White House on Friday, addressing last weekend's acquittal of Martin's shooter, George Zimmerman.
    Could Obama have been Trayvon Martin 35 years ago?
    Perhaps. If so, then any of us could have been Trayvon Martin. And I could have been Trayvon Martin. Racial motives weren't established at trial. And reportedly, the FBI still hasn't found racial motives in George Zimmerman, who is Hispanic. . . .
    A transcript of Obama's appearance can be seen here.

    Labels: ,

    Useful discussion on the risks of the information in the Obamacare data base being misused

    James Robbins has this piece here:
    As the Obamacare train-wreck begins to gather steam, there is increasing concern in Congress over something called the Federal Data Services Hub. The Data Hub is a comprehensive database of personal information being established by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement the federally facilitated health insurance exchanges. The purpose of the Data Hub, according to a June 2013 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, is to provide “electronic, near real-time access to federal data” and “access to state and third party data sources needed to verify consumer-eligibility information.” . . . 
    . . . the potential for abuse is enormous. The massive, centralized database will include comprehensive personal information such as income and financial data, family size, citizenship and immigration status, incarceration status, social security numbers, and private health information. It will compile dossiers based on information obtained from the IRS, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration, the Office of Personnel Management, the Social Security Administration, state Medicaid databases, and for some reason the Peace Corps. The Data Hub will provide web-based, one-stop shopping for prying into people’s personal affairs. . . . 
    The hub will be used on a daily basis by so-called Navigators, which according to the GAO are “community and consumer-focused nonprofit groups, to which exchanges award grants to provide fair and impartial public education” and “refer consumers as appropriate for further assistance.” Thousands of such people will have unfettered access to the Data Hub, but there are only sketchy guidelines on how they will be hired, trained and monitored. Given the slap-dash, incoherent way Obamacare is being implemented the prospect for quality control is low. . . .


    Long debate with Brady Campaign's John Lowy on C-SPAN Washington Journal

    The debate that I had on Saturday morning is available here.  I wasn't able to respond to a lot of the inaccurate claims, but I hope that this is useful.  While we primarily covered the Stand Your Ground laws and the Zimmerman trial, we also got into other issues.

    David Hardy has some interesting data on how the Brady Campaign has been doing recently.

    Even the left wing Daily Howler takes the media to task for how it is covering the Zimmerman case (they should get credit when they write a good piece).