Saturday, July 20, 2013

Rights of Citizenship

As we all know, the debate over illegal immigration, or as the politically correct people want to desensitize everyone into thinking, the undocumented immigrants, continues every day and is a hotly contested argument. (Hop to the proposed Constitutional Amendment)

The basic principle of immigration is to allow people to come into the country to better themselves and, hopefully, better the country by bringing their experiences, knowledge, and skills.  The United States has a well documented and comprehensive set of Immigration laws that provide for immigrants to apply for entry and either stay for a certain time limit, or to being the process towards Naturalization to become a United States Citizen.  The powers that be, though, seem to think that allowing individuals to enter the country illegally should not hinder their ability to become United States Citizens.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Attack on the 2nd Amendment

There is a group of citizens that are, on the down low, and possibly inadvertently, trying to assault your Second Amendment rights.

A person named Shirley Bells has created a petition on the Causes website called "NO gun rights for Zimmerman!"  This petition is calling for George Zimmerman to have his gun rights taken away from him, even though he has NEVER been convicted of a felony.

Their argument in the petition is based on a Huffington Post article that I can't seem to find, but I did find a similar article on speaking about George Zimmermans "criminal records." This was submitted by an Anchor for Allvoices out of New York City. Link

This article is very clear on the fact that none of the charges ended up in convictions. Here is a

Australia and a revived policy

Australia is at it again with immigration, specifically in regards to asylum seekers.  They have tried on several occasions to restrict the number of individuals entering Australia seeking asylum.  Now, according to The New York Times, the Prime Minister of Australia is trying again.

In the article, he is quoted as saying “As of today asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia.”  Instead, they are being re-routed to New Guinea and processed there.  But the new part is that they won't be able to get into Australia, even if they are legitimate asylum-seekers.  The current perspective, according to Foreign Minister Bob Carr many of the Iranians seeking asylum, are really just economic migrants abusing the liberal entry policies

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Random Thought today

So, with the city of Detroit being basically forced into bankruptcy, and the difficulties that California has faced in the past, I had a random thought.  I know that random thoughts can be dangerous and lead one on a path that really ends up leading nowhere, but here goes anyways.

We all know that immigrants tend to send money home to the family, that is one of the reasons that immigrants move here, is to get better paying jobs than they could back home and to then use that to support their families back home. This I have no issue with, as those immigrants are usually legal, pay their fair share of taxes, and are generally law abiding.

My question, and if anyone has ever seen a decent study of this please let me know as I couldn't find

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

UPDATE Arias in Court again

UPDATE: From Washington Post - Another hearing August 26 to hear motions, possible September date to empanel new jury.


So, according to USA Today, Jodi Arias and her lawyers are back in court today.  See article here.

The argument today is based on the criteria that the jury found that makes her eligible for the death penalty - that the killing was "especially cruel." Hmmm, with all the trial coverage of this, and the discussions regarding the photos, I don't think we need to review those; you can find them elsewhere yourself, I am sure.  

Based on what we have seen, I think that most people would agree the way in which Travis Alexander died was an "especially cruel" manner.  The argument this time around is that a jury doesn't have the "legal expertise or knowledge" to be able to differentiate a killing that wouldn't be considered "especially cruel" and one that is so.  I don't believe that this argument is realistic.  The term "especially cruel" is so vague, even judges at times have a difficult time deciding whether or not a case fits this description or not.  At least with a jury, there can be a discussion and not just a limited perspective of one person.  

The Supreme Court in Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002) applied the earlier ruling from Aprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), which applied the right to a jury trial from the Sixth Amendment, via the application to the states in the Fourteenth Amendment, in that the jury had to determine if there were aggravating circumstances in a crime for the judge to be able to include this in the sentencing phase.  Ring expanded this to include, specifically, crimes that could lead to capital punishment.

In the Arias case, the attorney's are now going in front of the judge asking the judge to throw out that part of the verdict that makes her eligible for the death penalty.  The Supreme Court through Justice Scalia said that " the aggravating-factor determination ... logically belong ... in the guilt phase."  They did also indicate that this could still be determined during the penalty phase of a trial, if the state so chooses, but that the better way is to include it in the guilt phase of the trial.  This indicates the Supreme Court's belief that a jury is able to determine whether or not an aggravating factor is sufficient to warrant capital punishment, and doesn't require legal expertise.

Since the jury in this case has spoken and included the finding of "especially cruel," Ms. Arias is now eligible to be sentenced to death.  And under Ring this must be a unanimous determination by the jury that she indeed deserves the death penalty.  But, now we have a situation where the jury that found her guilty was unable to come to a clear conclusion on the penalty to be imposed.  So we are looking at the possibility of a second jury now having to be brought up to speed on a trial, where the state has already spent, according to the article linked about from USA Today, over $1.7 million on her court-appointed lawyers alone and we don't even know what the state has spent on this case.  

If the judge has the possibility of severing the "especially cruel" portion of this verdict from the jury, then they should do so to expedite this trial through the penalty phase and end this costly and protracted case.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Black on White Racism - No Such Thing?

I have been watching the web and Twitter the last few days, and I keep seeing a recurring theme that pops up at me.  Over and over again, I see posts from blacks that say, in effect or directly:

 "I am black, and because I am black, I can't be racist."

If you look at any definition of racism, it will look similar to this:


  1. The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as...
  2. Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief.

Of course, the obvious part here is the second definition, but it ties into the first.  The second definition talks of prejudice or discrimination directed towards someone based on a belief, and ties into the first definition, that the people of the other race have different characteristics or abilities, and this can be extended to rights as well.

The blacks posting these comments feel that they are not treated the same as whites, or hispanics, or whatever other race you want to include here.  They feel that these other races are different then them and therefore hold prejudice against whites or these other races.  To clarify, a prejudice is a preconceived notion or idea not based on personal experience.  The concept that is expressed by many of the people posting on the web is that all white folks would kill them if they could.  This is a prejudiced notion against white folks that falls into a belief of a character trait of white people.  And this is a very true and correct definition of racism and anyone who professes any of these is, by definition, a racist.

The idea that because you are of one race or another, you can't be a racist is counter to the idea of racism.  The idea that each race is different from the other, understanding and accepting those differences is the anti-thesis of racism.  But when you voice an opinion about an entire race, when the entire race does not, or has not, engaged in that behavior, that is clearly racism.

In fact, this goes back and forth when you have a situation where one side is arguing that the other is racist, and the main countering argument is that the second person is racist.  I hate to say it folks, but everyone, even in some minor little way, is racist.  We all have our own preconceived ideas about people of other races, and subconsciously, whether we intend to or not, will harbor some prejudice towards that other race.

The mark of a good man in this case, is the one who recognizes that he has this prejudice, faces it, engages with the members of that other race, and learns for himself what the people of that race are like, feel, know, and act like.  When we continue to separate ourselves from people of the other race, we continue to harbor those thoughts of what "they" are like and will continue to be prejudiced and may even unintentionally discriminate against them.

It is time for people on both sides of the race divide to understand this and try to find common ground. 

Shame - Shame - Dailymail

With the Zimmerman trial now over, the analysis and breakdown is fully engaged.  Even overseas, they are paying attention to what is going on.  Unfortunately, in some cases, this is blatantly allowing the media to take a look at some data, and questionable studies, and publicize them as gospel.  All trying to sensationalize the situation for their own benefit and the furthering of the anti-racism, anti-gun, agendas.

Take for example, the apparently high impact headline from the Dailymail out of the UK "White people who kill black people in 'Stand Your Ground' states are 354% more likely to be cleared of murder".

This would appear to be a huge number indicating that a study had been conducted based on realistic data, and a true conclusion being drawn that shows that caucasians can get away with killing black people indiscriminately.  Now, read the tag end of the article linked above.  The individual who put out the study, John Roman, a senior analyst at Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, must have insisted on having his disclaimers in the report, because it is explained before displaying the data that there were 5,000 murders included in the data, where there was only one perpetrator, one defendant, and the parties did not know each other (or at least as far as the FBI knows) before the incident.  But the clarifying statement that of those 5,000 only 25 were white on black is buried at the end of the article.

The two parts that are NOT made clear in this article are the fact that the study only includes 25 murders of White perpetrators and Black victims, in comparison to the other 4,975 that were either Black on White, or Black on Black.  Essentially, this means that for every 1 White defendant that has their killing determined to be justified, this would be approximately 4% of the total related here. That is equivalent to 200 of the other cases included in these numbers.  Secondly, there is no indication in the report how many murders were listed as White on White and the ratio of those that were considered justifiable, that these numbers are being compared to.

The next step to back check the data, requires us to go to the original blog post by John Roman and Mitchell Downey (here) where the data is a bit clearer.  Of the 73,000 murders for the time of the study, a little over 1% of those murders were considered justified or 1,148.  When taken to the next level, the breakdown into single shooter, single victim, unknown to each other, we get to a number that is indicated at 4,650, with 506 of those being found to be justified, or 10.9%.  They further break this down at this point to say that in Stand Your Ground (SYG) states 13.9% were considered justified in comparison to 7.2% in non-SYG states.

AND NOW THE CRUX OF THE STORY - The next search criteria they used was to find cases in which the circumstances were EXACTLY like the Zimmerman/Martin case.  This included their ages and races as noted in the blog.  There were 23 cases identified, of which 9 were ruled justified or 39.1%.

In the blog noted above, it does not identify whether they pulled the FBI data based on Zimmerman being White or being Hispanic, or White of Hispanic descent, so hard to know which category they used. But, regardless, since the 39.1% rate of justifiable homicide they are using for the headline and for this apparently huge discrepancy is based on a White/Hispanic man that is 29, and a Black man that is 17 years old.  That is a very narrow segment of the population of the homicides in the total database.  We are talking about using 0.03% (that is 3/100 of 1%) of the data to extrapolate that ALL Whites (which Zimmerman is of Hispanic descent) are 345% more likely to have their cases determined to be justifiable homicide.  The 9 cases determined justifiable above make up only 0.78% of all justifiable homicides in the stated time period.

If the data they used, is as they described it, then this extrapolation is inappropriate and invalid for the population as a whole and is intended only as an inflammatory assault on gun rights and inciting the race hatred that they claim to be trying to fix.

In addition, one last point for Mr. Roman and Downey, on your blog as linked above, you state in the last sentence of the next to last paragraph that:

"Since the overwhelming majority of shootings are not justified, it seems clear that SYG laws reduce the chance for justice by moving the burden of proof from the shooter to law enforcement."

From this one statement alone, it would appear that you are unfamiliar with our justice system.  Irregardless of what defense the shooter may choose to employ, in a criminal matter, a defendant in the United States is always presumed innocent and the burden to prove guilt is on the state.  

Amendment Guy
Twitter @amendment_guy

Sunday, July 14, 2013


First and foremost, my thoughts go out to both the families of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.  The events that took place that led to the death of Trayvon and the subsequent trial of George, were unfortunate and have led to not only two lives being affected, but an entire nation.

Reactions to this tragedy, in most cases, have been centered on the appearance of a hate crime.  We can not know for certain what Mr. Zimmerman's thoughts were, when he chose to leave his vehicle that night.  We can not know for certain the mindset, either, of Mr. Martin.  But, a jury has reviewed the evidence and come to the conclusion that Mr. Zimmerman should not be held criminally liable for the death of Mr. Martin.

Our country was founded on the rule of law and the idea that all people deserve to be free from tyranny and oppression.  Our country is at its best when we work together, not against each other, to find the truth and advance the ideals of our founding fathers.

Unfortunately, we are all human and not divine, therefore we are all flawed and bring our experiences with us into any situation or debate.  This will lead to us often following our emotions and most basic fears, instead of thinking rationally about the situation and coming to a conclusion that is reasoned and in line with what others would decide if they were to do the same.  This applies across the board, no matter the situation, but is most apparent in situations where an appearance of discrimination or bias is present.  When individuals of different races interact, each side brings with them their own personal experience, but also those views that have been expressed to them by others within their own race.

The unfortunate part of this part of human nature, is that the collective mindset of a group of people (based on race, religion, creed, or other unifying idea) is often skewed by a relatively small number of incidents or a series of incidents.  This is not to say that the views are entirely wrong, or are based on incomplete information, but that as one incident leads to the next, and the next, a compiling of the insults and injuries tends to blind the participants to the underlying need to follow the rule of law.

Being outraged at an incident is natural and is even expected.  The public, as a whole, should be outraged at every murder, rape, arson, etc., that takes place.  This is because the human race understands that crimes against others are a violation of the basic tenets that are enshrined in our very own Declaration of Independence and Constitution, that we are all endowed with certain rights from the Creator.  The framers of our country understood this, though, because of the social circumstances at the time, these rights were not recognized in society as a whole for all individuals.

Our society has advanced over time and we have recognized that we were marginalizing or ignoring some of the very people the Constitution is designed to protect.  This led to the Civil Rights Movement, the abolition of slavery, and many other advances in our understanding and treatment of individuals and the rule of law being established to protect these individuals that had been previously marginalized.

The problem today is not that we don't recognize the rights of these individuals, but that we have come to the point of tipping the scales the opposite direction.  Now we have a situation where the majority has overstepped the line of balance and is providing more rights to certain individuals than others, while ignoring their own rights.

This is most apparent when a situation arises that, on its face, appears to have any form bias against one of the individuals involved in the situation.  This isn't just applicable to race, it also comes into play in gender, religious, sexual orientation, and life issues.  The Martin/Zimmerman situation is one of many situations that have a large impact on the psyche of a group.  Others include the same-sex marriage issues in this country right now, as well as the recent abortion law issues in Texas.  These situations, when they arise, have a tendency to lower the thoughts and actions of those within the group to the lowest common denominator.  Reason often gets set aside and the members of the group will strike out, either verbally or sometimes physically, against those that they feel they are being oppressed by.

We, as a people, have to understand and realize that in a Republic, as our country is, it is not about who can make the most noise, it should be about what we can do as a society for each other.  We are all entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as guaranteed to us by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but we also have to take into consideration that these liberties are intended for individuals.  Groups of people have come to be classed together and when one individual in that group has a problem, the others rise up in defense of that person.  This is perfectly acceptable, but at the same time, saying that all the persons in another group are to blame is not right, nor acceptable.  Our country should believe in personal responsibility and individuals should take personal responsibility for their actions and not blame entire groups for what is perceived as injustice.

The President of the United States is charged with executing the laws of the country.  The Constitution makes it clear that the President has a duty to faithfully follow the law.  The President should not be weighing in with personal opinions about a situation, especially when those opinions tend to favor one side or the other.  The President, to properly be faithful to his duty to execute the laws, should seem to be like the Lady of Justice statutes, holding the scales and looking for the balance of justice against the rights of the individual.  Unfortunately, the Presidency has devolved into a celebrity status symbol, in many respect, and instead of being impartial and collecting the facts before making a determination, unsubstantiated opinion is taken by the media and spread as gospel.

The President weighing in on an issue that is a matter of the state to make a determination on, even prior to a jury being selected, is tantamount to jury tampering.  When the President speaks, the country tends to listen.  In addition, the Federal government is charged with upholding Federal law and not states laws.  When a matter occurs within a single state, our system is set up in such a way, that the State has first jurisdiction over the matter.  The State makes the determination of guilt or innocence.  If we allow the Federal government to decide at some point that they will prosecute someone at the level of the case here, then the States rights are going to be abolished and we will be under one government, not of the people, but of the power structure that underlies politics in Washington DC.

There have been cries of issues on both sides of this matter.  The defenders of Mr. Zimmerman claiming prosecutorial misconduct, the proponents of Mr. Martin of civil rights violations.  Either of these is a matter for the State to decide and not the federal government.  This is a matter that should never have been in the national spotlight to begin with.  This was a local matter and should have been handled as such.

But, with the explosion of technology and the desire of people to see and hear about everything that is going on anywhere, the general population that encourages and wants this becomes complicit in any issues that arise around the cases involved.  With our ready access to entertainment that provides a thrill in movies, amusement parks, books, etc., one of the things that most people have found boring and tedious, a trial for a crime, has to be livened up and made grist for the publicity mills.  If the media doesn't make the trial "relevant" to enough people, then people won't watch and the media outlets won't make money.  They sensationalize and repeat the information so many times, they impact the psyche of the people watching.  The media should be there to provide the information, but not to sensationalize it or make it more "tantalizing" to their audience.  The all mighty buck and getting those ratings has overtaken any idea that our media can be objective and just report the facts as they come out.  Now they have to analyze everything ad nauseum to the point where it all depends on who you watch what your opinion is.  They tend to take the decision making process out of the hands of the individual and put it in their own hands.

The calls for a civil rights case against Mr. Zimmerman are, in my personal opinion, inappropriate and an injustice to the rule of law.  Our Constitution, and the laws created from it, provide a particular protection that ensures that government does not persecute an individual.  This is the concept of double jeopardy.  When someone has already been tried in a criminal case for their actions, and found not guilty for whatever reason the jury decides, they are not supposed to be tried again for that same crime. That is exactly what the people calling for a civil rights action are calling for, a second bite at the apple. The idea that because the Federal government is separate doesn't fly in this case.  The Constitution binds the Federal government in several areas, and this is one of them.  Allowing the Federal government the right to try someone a second time for a crime they have already been cleared of is morally repugnant to me.  The State has used the process established by the founding fathers in our legal system, and has found that Mr. Zimmerman was not to be held responsible for Mr. Martin's death. Why should the Federal government get a chance to do the same thing?  This violates the protection from double jeopardy that every one of us expects from the States.

The moral of this whole story is that we as a society have gotten to the point where we allow matters that, in reality, should be local and personal to become national and group based.  We need to return to the idea where each of us is responsible for our own actions and not allow ourselves to be swayed by what everyone else thinks.  This leads to a mob mentality that is dangerous, not for any one individual but for all individuals.

The Amendment Guy
Twitter @amendment_guy