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President Obama continues his reckless and ideologically-driven course of handing out commutations in record numbers.  Just this year, he's handed out 688 of them, dozens to inmates with firearms as well as hard drug convictions.  This is from the same President who says he's worried about "gun violence."  Apparently, he's most worried about it when guns are in the hands of normal, law-abiding people, less so when they're in the hands of felons who've been packin' heat to their 2 a.m. drug deals.

The commutation story is covered by Brendan Kirby in a relatively new and very worthwhile online publication, Lifezette.  The article is here; it quotes me a few times.

When it could no longer be hidden that murder and heroin overdose deaths have been spiking for (now) close to two years, the once-sanguine Congressional prospects for "sentencing reform" (read: sentence reduction) took a nosedive.  The President saw this, and did what he so often does:  He just walked past the reasons for Congress's wise caution and used unilateral executive power, knowing he would never again have to face the electorate.

If you think Bill Clinton's disgraceful midnight pardons were a doozy, you're right. But I strongly suspect you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Foul Play on 62 Campaign

James Rojas reports for KABC (LA): 

The campaign seeking to abolish the state's death penalty is in some hot water after advocating to high school students in East Los Angeles without the school's permission.

The Garfield High School administration says it was never told that members of Yes on 62 would be on campus.

"Always will be a risk to execute an innocent one."

Last Friday, death row exoneree Juan Melendez and another speaker told students to convince their parents to vote yes on the measure. Kent Scheidegger is with the No on 62 campaign.

"Basically, a one-sided campaign event and it's not an appropriate thing to hold on a school campus."

The LA Unified School District says what happened was against policy. The Yes on 62 campaign has not responded for comment.

A Prop. 66 Landslide?

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The Institute for Social Research at Sacramento State U. has this poll of 622 likely California voters surveyed October 7-13.

Proposition 66 would aim to speed up the death penalty court process in California. For example, it would require the superior court to review initial petitions, increase the number of available attorneys to accept those appeals, and allow condemned inmates to be housed at any state prison.

Do you plan to vote 'YES' to change these death penalty court procedures, or 'NO' to make no changes to existing procedures?

51%      Yes (1)
20         No (2)
29         Undecided/Don't Know (8)
Last night, when I heard Donald Trump decline to pledge to accept the result of the election, I understood him to mean that in the event we have an outcome like 2000 he reserved the right to file a challenge like Al Gore did in Florida.  Reading the papers this morning, one would think that he threatened a violent overthrow of the government.

Al Gore did not "accept" the "result" announced by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris.  He took the case to the Florida courts.  George Bush did not "accept" the "result" of the Florida Supreme Court decision.  He took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Two presidential elections in living memory have been close enough to be within what John Fund called the "margin of litigation":  1960 and 2000.  Richard Nixon chose not to litigate; Al Gore chose to.  I consider it extremely unlikely that 2016 will be anywhere near that close, but this year has provided multiple examples of the wisdom of Yogi Berra's admonition against predictions.

I have no reason to believe that Donald Trump reads my advice, and he certainly doesn't take it, but for the record I recommend that he come out promptly with a clarification that all that he reserves is an Al Gore type challenge.

A Supreme Court that Takes Sides? Part II

Paul Mirengoff of PowerLine saw the same zinger in Hillary Clinton's Supreme Court answer that I did.  With characteristic insight, Paul quotes the oath of office Supreme Court Justices are required to take, and notes that anyone appointed under the partisan, agenda-laden criteria Ms. Clinton set forth last night could not possibly be faithful to the oath, which is as follows (emphasis added):

I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as _________ under the Constitution and laws of the United States. 

The question, which Paul then addresses, is whether Clinton appointees are likely to be, not merely misguided, but illegitimate in a deeper sense when seen through the lens of the neutrality Americans historically (and rightly) demand of judges.

A Supreme Court that Takes Sides?

I did not watch tonight's debate, but I have seen it reported in more than one source, e.g., here, that Hillary Clinton, when asked if she supported a Supreme Court that would adopt a strict reading of the Constitution, responded with no mention of that document, and said instead:

I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people, not the powerful corporations and the wealthy.

I will put to one side Ms. Clinton's remarks (at $250,000 a  pop) to the powerful corporation known as Goldman Sachs, and her income last year, reportedly a bit over ten million dollars. The main takeaway from her comment is her breathtaking misunderstanding of both the Court and the Constitution.

As liberals used to know, an independent Court was created by the Constitution precisely to be anti-majoritarian, that is, to be a neutral, not a "side-taking," arbiter of the law. Giving effect to popular will is the job of the political branches, not the Supreme Court (or inferior courts).

Someone might also inform Ms. Clinton that corporate managers and the rich are also  -- ready now?  --  part of the American people, and deserve no more justice, and no less, than anyone else. 

No Blank Check for President Hillary

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It is likely that Hillary Clinton will be elected President.  I don't have to like it,* but the polls say what they say.  The question is what can be done to cabin her decidedly unhealthy agenda (exemplified by, among other things, her embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement).

One thing that can be done is to keep the Senate in the hands of the opposition party. This will have, among other salutary effects, an influence on how far to the left she might go in making Supreme Court and court of appeals picks.  

Thus, I have contributed to the campaigns of a number of Republican Senate candidates, including Rubio, Ayotte, Toomey, Heck, Young and Burr.  Rubio is likely to win; the others are close races that could go either way.  

*  Not that I much like any probable outcome of the Presidential race, as it is presently constituted.  

Time for a Noble, Selfless Act

    Does Donald Trump want to be remembered as the man who handed the White House to Hillary Clinton on a silver platter, with all the disastrous results that are sure to follow?  Or would he rather be remembered as the man who put his country above himself?
The New Mexico House of Representatives today passed the death penalty restoration bill, HB 7, by a vote of 36-30.  Regrettably, the vote was along party lines.  Hopefully some of those "no" votes won't be back in 2017.  The Senate adjourned without considering the bill, allowing its members who would have voted no to chicken out and not face the voters with an express vote on the record.

Although the bill will not be enacted this year, it is a landmark.  A restoration bill has passed a house of an American legislature for the first time after a period when the other side had the legislative momentum.  Hopefully favorable votes by the people of Nebraska and California a month from now will add to the momentum in the correct direction.

Rudy for AG?

Elise Viebeck has this post at the WaPo.

Giuliani is eyeing the role of Trump's attorney general if he's elected in November, according to sources close to the process. And to campaign for it -- after all, he's got to beat Chris Christie -- he's giving the surrogate performance of a lifetime. Trump's preferred policy of stop-and-frisk? Giuliani claims it brought about an 85-percent reduction in crime in New York City. Black Lives Matter? "Inherently racist." And police relations? He's holding a meet-and-greet for Trump with Cleveland's police union Tuesday.

Well, stop-and-frisk is a component of effective policing, and BLM is inherently racist, so there is nothing wrong in what Mr. Giuliani is saying and doing. 

Giuliani denied he's pursuing "any office or position in a future administration."
*                    *                   *
[Ted Olson said,] "Rudy was a tremendous associate attorney general and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which is more important than any of the other federal prosecutorial districts. I doubt there is anyone in the country who could come close in terms of his experience. ... He had the job of number three [at the Justice Department], then was U.S. attorney, then ran for mayor. He is exquisitely well-suited for attorney general."

But of course none of that matters unless there is a Trump Administration, and given that the candidate himself punches a new hole in the hull of his campaign ship almost daily, that seems to be a sinking possibility.

Trump Is Right About 'Stop and Frisk'

Former NY Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has this op-ed with the above title in the WSJ.

One of the strategies that helped bring about an 85% reduction in crime in New York City between 1994 and 2013 was the careful and appropriate use of "stop and frisk." This practice dramatically reduced the number of guns, knives and other dangerous weapons, as well as illicit drugs, in the city.

But according to candidate Hillary Clinton and moderator Lester Holt during Monday night's presidential debate, stop and frisk is "unconstitutional." They are wrong. In Mrs. Clinton's case, it's the usual misrepresenting she does when she does not know what she is talking about. As for Mr. Holt, if a moderator is going to interfere, he should do some homework and not pretend to know the law when he does not. Mr. Holt and NBC cannot overrule the U.S. Supreme Court.
See my previous post on this subject for the citation and an excerpt of the case.  Continuing with Mr. Giuliani's piece:

Coin-Flip, Anyone?

Some mostly off-topic political notes.

Stop and Frisk

The controversy over the practice of "stop and frisk" has entered the presidential campaign.  Let's begin with a trivia question.  Who wrote the Supreme Court decision upholding "stop and frisk" upon reasonable suspicion?

(a)  William Rehnquist
(b)  Antonin Scalia
(c)  Roger Taney
(d)  Earl Warren


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Speaking of "deplorables," the Communist Party USA website has this report from Joelle Fishman and the CPUSA Political Action Commission urging people to vote for Hillary Clinton and not throw away their votes on Stein or Johnson.

Some of those votes may go to Gary Johnson and the Libertarians. In a very close election, the votes for Johnson and Jill Stein could throw the election to Donald Trump. The argument for a landslide unity vote could convince some of those to do the right thing.
So there you have it.  It's not an invention of "right-wing media."  The Communist Party says voting for Hillary Clinton is doing the right thing.

Any repudiation of this endorsement from the Clinton camp?  I could not find one through a Google search or on the campaign website.  If anybody can find one, please post a link in the comments.

Fraternal Order of Police Endorses Trump

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The press release is here.  "He understands and supports our priorities, and our members believe he will make America safe again."

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