The Problem With Red Flag Laws

Yesterday Hot Air posted an article about Florida’s Red Flag Law. Please follow the link to read the entire article. Based on what has happened since the law was passed, some of Florida’s counties were awash with crazy people and other counties had a totally sane population. I doubt either is entirely true.

The article reports:

Florida enacted its red flag law in the spring of 2018 and they didn’t lose any time in putting it to use. And I mean a lot of use. But as this report from the Associated Press indicates, use of the law is not consistent from county to county and there are serious questions remaining as to how fairly it’s being applied.

That is the problem with Red Flag Laws–they deny a citizen due process and they are arbitrary in the sense that an unhappy neighbor can file a complaint without a truly good reason.

The article continues:

The first thing I would point out here is that the AP article was edited to have a rather disingenuous title. It reads “In 2 years, Florida ‘red flag’ law removes hundreds of guns.” While that’s technically true, the actual number is more than 3,500, so “thousands of guns” would have been a more accurate description.

The article concludes:

Here’s one other hole in the state’s red flag law that has many people concerned. These red flag hearings are not considered criminal proceedings so you aren’t entitled to a lawyer assigned by the court. If you’re too poor to afford a good attorney, your chances of prevailing at the hearing go way down. With all that in mind, how many of these “success” stories about gun confiscations were actually brought by people with an ax to grind against their neighbor or angry ex-wives and girlfriends? Once the judge makes the decision to confiscate your weapons, that’s pretty much it. You’re allowed to appeal, but again, if you don’t have a good lawyer what chance do you have?

I’ve been on the fence about these red flag laws since they first started cropping up. In extreme cases like the ones I mentioned at the top, I can definitely see firearms removal as being justifiable. But the system is also open to abuse and there appear to be few safeguards in place for the wrongly accused.

Real-life Stories About Green Energy

Massachusetts is generally a pretty liberal state. Green energy is popular there. However, recently there have been some events that have caused some state residents to question the wisdom of ‘going green.’

On February 13th (updated February 14th) The Cape Cod Times reported:

After years of running into roadblocks, residents who live near Future Generation Wind made some headway Wednesday night when the Plymouth Board of Health unanimously voted to declare the four turbines along Route 25 a nuisance.

“We want to do justice to this and to all the parties involved,” board Chairwoman Birgitta Kuehn said.

The board also unanimously voted to take action on the turbines within a reasonable time.

Up to 30 residents from Bourne and Plymouth crowded into the meeting room to complain again about how the turbines negatively affect their lives on a daily basis.

“It is amazing to me that these turbines were built in a residential area,” board Vice Chairman Barry Potvin said. “This is clearly something the Board of Health has to take up, because we are sworn to protect the health and safety of the people who live in this area.”

The article explains some of the difficulties in removing the turbines:

The four 500-foot ConEdison Solutions wind turbines were installed in June 2016. They sit close to the Bourne border, but because they are located in Plymouth, it has been difficult for Bourne residents to fight through their own town government.

Since their installation, the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserve and protect Buzzards Bay, has collected approximately 360 complaints from residents in the area. Complaints include shadow flicker, nausea, vertigo, sleep disturbance, headaches, anxiety and sound disturbances.

The article concludes:

In October 2018, the Bourne Board of Health found the turbines were a nuisance and sent a letter to the Plymouth Board of Health, Planning Board, Board of Selectmen and Zoning Board of Appeals, which is responsible for licensing the turbines. No action had been taken since.

If the turbines are removed it would mirror what happened to the two turbines that were at the Falmouth wastewater treatment plant.

After residents in that town complained of the negative impacts from the turbines, a Barnstable Superior Court judge ordered in 2013 that neither turbine could spin again. The November town meeting voted to spend $2.5 million to dismantle the turbines.

The Falmouth turbines, however, were town-owned on town property. The Plymouth turbines are on private property and are owned by a private company.

Moving forward, members of the Buzzards Bay Action Committee plan to attend the Plymouth selectmen’s meeting Feb. 25 to further discuss the issue and possible next steps.

So let’s look at some of the consequences of this particular rush to ‘green energy.’ The residents whose electricity comes from the company that put up the windmills have paid for the installation of the windmills in the form of higher electric rates. Since Massachusetts’ electric customers have an option to choose their electric provider, I suspect the company has lost customers. Meanwhile, I would guess that the rates for the remaining customers have increased. The residents of the towns involved are also expected to use their tax money to dismantle the windmills. This adventure into ‘green energy’ which relied on government subsidies rather than the free market has been a lose-lose for the residents of the towns involved.

The only reasonable path to ‘green energy’ is the free market. Even at that, it may be that the search for ‘green energy’ is similar to the never-ending search for a perpetual motion machine, a concept that totally ignores the basic principles of physics.

Good News For Impatient People Who Like Clean Dishes

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about dishwashers–the kind that are installed in with your kitchen cabinets and take forever to clean the dishes about as well as your average cat. I realize that does not apply to all dishwashers, but since the environmentalists got involved, it applies to a lot of them. Well, that is about to change.

The article reports:

Consumers outraged about slow dishwashers are staunchly backing an Energy Department move, over industry objections, to create a new category of products that feature a one-hour washing cycle.

Individual consumers have flooded the public comment docket in support of the Energy Department proposal, which grants a petition made by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank. The agency proposal would establish a separate product class for dishwashers that clean and dry dishes within one hour, an action that would exclude those appliances from current energy and water conservation standards until separate rules are crafted.

The Energy Department could finalize the proposal as soon as next year.

“A First World country deserves a dishwasher that can actually clean soiled dishes in an hour – as it used to have before this regulation was enacted to ‘save’ us energy and money. It doesn’t,” one individual consumer, Chad Anderson, wrote in a comment submitted this week.

The article concludes:

The Energy Department, though, in its proposal said data and customer complaints show many consumers would value “shorter cycle times to clean a normally-soiled load of dishes.” Watkins argued that no dishwasher models currently exist on the market that have a normal one-hour cycle for washing and drying.

Mauer said a number of factors, including consumer preferences for more efficient and quieter dishwashers, have impacted the cycle times.

And she said the lack of standards for the new product class also means the Energy Department’s move likely violates a provision in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which prohibits the agency from loosening the efficiency standards.

Appliance makers also say the product class isn’t necessary, and they say the Energy Department action creates new regulatory burdens that will cost manufacturers.

Creating a new product class would lead to stranded investments for companies, “as manufacturers would essentially be required to abandon” innovations in efficiency they’d made to comply with the previous standards, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers wrote in comments.

The group, which represents more than 150 companies, wrote it has raised concerns about dishwasher cycle times previously but stressed this wasn’t the venue to address them.

Watkins of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, however, argued appliance makers don’t want the Energy Department to change the current limits because it would open up the market to new companies that haven’t spent the money to comply with conservation limits.

“They now view the regulations in some way as a barrier to entry” into the market, Watkins said. He also suggested that creating a new product class could relieve some of the pressure manufacturers face from ever-tightening standards due to the law’s “one-way ratchet.”

Plus, it’s hard to argue with the overwhelming consumer support, Watkins said, pointing to a recent survey the group conducted of more than 1,000 customers showing a majority prefer dishwasher cycles of one hour or less.

“Where can I get a MDGA* hat? (*Make Dishwashers Great Again),” one consumer wrote in the comments.

What has happened to dishwashers in recent years is another example of the government deciding what is good for the consumer without giving the consumer a voice in the decision. The idea of a dishwasher that effectively cleans dishes in an hour is a winner. Government regulation and interference kept it from being a reality.

One Question That Needs Answering

The Federalist posted an article yesterday about a question surrounding the latest attempt to impeach President Trump.

The article notes:

Republican lawmakers in both the Senate and House on Monday demanded answers from the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) about secret revisions to the office’s guidance on “urgent concern” whistleblower complaints. The Federalist first reported last week that between May 2018 and August 2019, the ICIG secretly eliminated its requirement that potential whistleblowers provide only first-hand evidence of alleged wrongdoing.

In their letter to Michael Atkinson, the ICIG, Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) noted that the anti-Trump complainant offered no direct, first-hand evidence of alleged wrongdoing against President Donald Trump. Instead, the complaint is littered with gossip, hearsay, and rumor. The lawmakers specifically asked the ICIG to explain when the whistleblower guidance was revised, by whom, and for what reason.

“Based on the language on [the May 24, 2018] form, it appears that the requirement for first-hand information has been an ICIG policy regardless of how a whistleblower makes an urgent concern report,” they wrote. “Curiously the urgent disclosure form that now appears on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence website has recently changed and no longer contains this explicit first-hand information requirement.”

“[T]he timing of the removal of the first-hand information requirement raises questions about potential connections to this whistleblower’s complaint,” the lawmakers continued. “This timing, along with numerous apparent leaks of classified information about the contents of this complaint, also raise questions about potential criminality in the handling of these matters.”

The letter informs the ICIG that he must provide answers to their questions about the timing and rationale of the secret changes to the whistleblower guidance by noon on Thursday, October 3. The lawmakers told the ICIG to treat the letter as a formal demand to preserve all evidence related to the changes to the internal ICIG whistleblower rules.

The timing of this change, along with the willingness to ignore Vice-president Biden’s obvious successful attempt to leverage aid to Ukraine to prevent an investigation into some questionable business dealings of his son, is questionable at best. It does appear that there are un-elected people inside our government working with elected officials and a compliant media to undo the results of an election. Those people, along with their allies, need to face consequences for their actions–they are undermining our republic.

There is also the obvious question, “Why is the Intelligence Community Inspector General, who is supposed to be investigating the intelligence community, investigating the President?” That investigation is outside of his authority. The ‘whistleblower,’ who is actually simply a leaker, is not acting within the law as it is written.

When The Truth Doesn’t Work, Make Something Up

I have read the transcript of the telephone call between President Trump and President Zelensky.

This is how Adam Schiff characterized that call (The Federalist, September 26, 2019):

And what is the President’s response — well it reads like a classic organized crime shake down. In essence, what the President Trump communicates is this: We’ve been very good to your country. Very good. No other country has done as much as we have. But you know what, I don’t see much reciprocity here. You know what I mean? I hear what you want. I have a favor I want from you though. And I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of dirt, on this and on that. I’m going to put you in touch with people, and not just any people. I’m going to put you in touch with the Attorney General of the United States — my Attorney General, Bill Barr — he’s got the whole weight of American law enforcement behind him. And I’m going to put you in touch with Rudy, you’re going to love him. Trust me. You know what I’m asking, so I’m only going to say this a few more times, in a few more ways. And don’t call me again. I’ll call you when you’ve done what I asked.

This is an inflammatory lie. There is nothing in the transcript that reads anything like that. One thing that you do take away from the transcript is that Ukraine is also dealing with issues of the deep state. They are looking for help and willing to offer help.

I have also scanned the whistleblower’s complaint (available here). It would not be admissible in a court of law as it is strictly hearsay. There is no direct link between the source and the information he is spouting.

It is truly sad to see members of Congress simply make things up to advance their political agenda. It would be nice if they would do something to advance the good of the country–like infrastructure, healthcare, national security, reducing spending–just to name a few.

Also, isn’t it rich that the party of the Christopher Steele dossier is complaining about foreigners interfering in American politics.

This Is How We Change Our Schools

The following is a March 19th Press Release from Americans for Peace &Tolerance, a Boston-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting peaceful coexistence in an ethnically diverse America by educating the American public about radical ideologies that undermine the academic integrity at American High Schools and Universities:

NEWTON RESIDENTS SUE CITY’S SCHOOL COMMITTEE, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS FOR DISCRIMINATION AGAINST JEWS AND ISRAELIS
 
Ideological/Political Curriculum Teaches Propaganda Instead of Facts

 
NEWTON, MASSACHUSETTS. On March 12, 2019, Newton taxpayers filed a lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court against the Newton School Committee, Superintendent of Schools David Fleishman, the principals of the Newton high schools, and certain high school history teachers. Plaintiffs are asking for a court order that would compel Newton school officials to stop indoctrinating students with anti-Semitism, bigotry against Israel, and Islamist religious dogma as part of the high school history curriculum. This suit was made necessary because the embattled school administration is shielding its teachers from scrutiny and refusing to supervise what is being taught in its classrooms. The taxpayers claim that Newton Public Schools (NPS) has deliberately failed and refused to comply with the Equal Rights Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution, with the Massachusetts Student Anti-Discrimination Act, and with civil rights regulations that require schools, through their curricula, to encourage respect for the human and civil rights of all individuals regardless of race, identity, religion, color, sex, and national origin.
 
The extensively documented 469 page legal complaint, available here, details the lengthy history of Newton residents’ efforts to have NPS address and correct the factually flawed teaching. Plaintiffs and their attorney were provided with an enormous volume of factual documentation by Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) Executive Director Ilya Feoktistov, whose investigations over the past several months formed the basis of this action. 
 
“In looking for the sources of the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bigotry in the Newton curriculum, we discovered a few bad apple teachers who view their teaching positions as giving them license to promote their personal political agendas,” said Mr. Feoktistov. “We are also looking closely at a common pattern with these politicized teachers — most, if not all, have taken professional development courses developed with foreign funding by the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia.”
 
“Newton history teachers and school administrators must think either that anti-discrimination laws do not apply to them, or that these laws do not protect their Jewish and Israeli students,” said the President of APT, Charles Jacobs. “There is no academic freedom to brainwash students with fake history and pro-Arab or anti-Semitic propaganda that is, these days, alarmingly too common on the left in America.”
 
Evidence described in the complaint shows how Newton teachers teach that Jews and Christians deliberately forged their holy texts to contradict the Muslim Qur’an; that Zionism has “little connection” to Jewish history in “Palestine;” that the Jews took advantage of the Holocaust to gain sympathy for Zionism at the expense of “Arab plight;” and that the Israelis treat the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews. After being taught all this, students are asked to debate whether there should be a one- or two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. 
 
Karen Hurvitz, attorney for the taxpayers, stated that her clients are not asking for money damages, even though defendants have certainly caused years of incalculable damage by their insistence on teaching impressionable students materials that slander Israel and Jews. “This is the type of teaching that leads to anti-Semitism — and it has. The taxpayers here are merely asking NPS to perform their duties and obey the law, which requires that their curriculum encourage respect for all people. Education should be based on fact, not on stereotypes and propaganda.”

This is how you handle educational indoctrination.

Do College Organizations Have The Right To Place Requirements On Their Leaders?

Last month Christian Headlines posted an article about a recent lawsuit against the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. The University has demanded that a Christian group must be willing to allow non-Christians and atheists to lead their Bible studies in order to be recognized on campus.

The article reports:

While the school officials declined to comment on the situation, the Alliance Defending Freedom stated that: “The university refused to grant Ratio Christi registered status because it only allows those who share and personally hold beliefs consistent with the group’s mission to serve as its leaders.” 

“As a Christian apologetics organization, Ratio Christi seeks to defend the Christian faith and explain how the Bible applies to various current cultural, ethical, and political issues. Any student can attend its events. Any student of any faith can become a member of Ratio Christi, as long as he supports the group’s purpose. But Ratio Christi requires that those who lead the Christian organization must share its religious beliefs. As a result, the university has denied it registered status, limiting its access to funding, meeting and event space, and administrative support,” said the legal team.

The lawsuit disputes the school’s belief that it can refuse registered status to groups if they choose leaders that agree with the group’s religious outlooks.

Additionally, it notes other biased actions by the school against the Christian group, including that “non-religious groups are allowed to select members who support their purposes. And the university allows fraternities that admit only men and sororities that admit only women to continue as registered student organizations, in contradiction to the university’s policy against ‘discriminating based on sex.’”

Would you allow a member of the Ku Klux Klan to lead a class at the NAACP? Refusing to recognize this group because it requires that leaders support the beliefs of the group is discrimination. I hope the university loses the lawsuit.

Punishing Achievement While Rewarding Mediocrity

Today’s Wall Street Journal posted an editorial about an area of discrimination we rarely hear about. It seems that our elite universities have been discriminating against Asian-American students.

The editorial reports:

The percentage of Asian-American students at Harvard and other elite universities has held suspiciously steady for two decades at about 18%, while the number of college-age Asian-Americans has increased rapidly. In May the coalition (a coaltion of sixty-four organizations) asked the civil-rights arms of the Education and Justice Departments to investigate why Asian-Americans, who make up about 5% of the population but earn an estimated 30% of National Merit semifinalist honors, aren’t accepted to Harvard in numbers that reflect these qualifications.

Sixty-four organizations filed a complaint with the Education Department. The Education Department dismissed the complaint, stating that there is pending litigation on the matter. (One suit was filed by Students for Fair Admissions against Harvard and the University of North Carolina).

The editorial further points out:

A similarly narrow ruling next year could give Harvard and other top schools license to maintain de facto quotas. Asian-Americans need to score 140 points higher on the SAT than white students to be considered equal applicants on paper, and 450 points higher than African-Americans, according to independent research cited in the complaint.

Why are we preventing our best and brightest from entering our best schools simply because of their race? I thought there were laws against discrimination based on race. This kind of activity does not help anyone. Students with the lower scores may not be equipped to handle the academic workload at these elite schools.This really must be discouraging to the students who have achieved the high scores.

The editorial concludes:

Meantime, the Asian-American coalition says it will continue to push back, potentially broadening the complaint. Quota-like admissions also seem to exist at Yale, Princeton and elsewhere, and the feds won’t have litigation as an excuse to look the other way. But if the Obama Administration finds another excuse, as it probably will, Asian-Americans will need the Supreme Court to end their exclusion.

Racial discrimination should never be acceptable regardless of who it is aimed at. I hope the Asian-American students sue the pants off the schools that are doing this and then use the money to provide scholarships to Asian-American students in their communities.