5 Values We Don’t Teach the Way We Should In America

My latest Townhall column is called, 5 Values We Don’t Teach the Way We Should In America. Here’s an excerpt from the column.
“Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.” — Thomas Sowell
We like to think of children as innocent little angels. Of course, that’s only true in the sense that there aren’t any three year olds who’ve stabbed their cousins to death for drug money or set up a stock swindle designed to bilk ...


News Versus Propaganda

Since so many in the media cannot resist turning every tragedy into a political talking point, it was perhaps inevitable that (1) someone would try to link the shooting rampage at the Batman movie in Colorado to the Tea Party, and that (2) some would try to make it a reason to impose more gun control laws.
Too many people in the media cannot seem to tell the difference between reporting the news and creating propaganda.
NBC News apparently could not resist doctoring the transcript of the conversation between George Zimmerman and ...


Our Founders’ Wisdom on Reducing Violent Crime

Who wasn’t shocked and disheartened by yet another tragic mass shooting, this time in Aurora, Colo.? Like millions of Americans, my wife, Gena, and I send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the victims of this murderous spree and their families.
We, too, commend the heroes who gave their lives to save others. Truly, every victim of this reprehensible executioner is in some way heroic, for the victims were injured or died in the midst of a culture war in which even our theaters and schools have become battlegrounds.
Moreover, we salute ...


The Left’s Habitual and Ironic Rush to Judgment

When a radio host asked me what I thought of the massacre in Aurora, Colo., I had to ask for clarification. I said: “What do you mean? Who could deny it’s an unspeakable tragedy?”
What he was really asking me was to address it in a political context. The problem is that I don’t believe there was any political context to the shooting; not everything is political.
But unfortunately, elements of the left seemed determined to graft political implications onto the event, irrespective of the absence of any factual basis for doing ...


Why ABC Tried to Blame the Tea Party for Aurora

James Holmes is a human earthquake. We are as ill-equipped to predict the eruptions of such human beings as we are to predict the eruptions of the earth.
But that doesn’t mean that nothing meaningful came out of the Aurora tragedy.
Something quite important did, though few Americans are aware of it because it has already entered the mainstream media’s memory hole.
On ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday morning, Brian Ross, chief investigative reporter for ABC News, announced to George Stephanopoulos and millions of viewers that there’s “a Jim Holmes of Aurora, ...


Why Governor Calls Shooter ‘Suspect A’

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper had the right idea when he refused to utter the suspected gunman’s name in the Aurora multiplex theater shootings, which left 12 dead and 58 wounded. Instead of naming the alleged killer, Hickenlooper referred to him only as “Suspect A.” At a prayer vigil Sunday, Hickenlooper read the names of each of the 12 people killed in the incident. After each name, the crowd repeated the refrain, “We will remember.”
“We want to focus on the victims, survivors and first responders,” the governor’s spokesman, Eric Brown, explained, ...


Dark night

By now the script should be familiar. A bombing or a mass shooting occurs and the media immediately look for a simple cause. Invariably, they turn to talk radio or some other conservative pit of “intolerance.”
Within recent memory are tragedies like the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the 1999 massacre at Columbine, the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings and the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson. Some politicians and liberal interest groups have sought to link these and other violent incidents to the far right. There have also ...


Dark Night

By now the script should be familiar. A bombing or a mass shooting occurs and the media immediately look for a simple cause. Invariably, they turn to talk radio or some other conservative pit of...


Totally Wacky Monday Night Video: Cloudy


RS Interview: Mark Oxner (R CAND, FL-09 PRI).

FL-09 is, of course, the district that Alan Grayson is currently hoping to carpetbag – apparently the poor fellow has discovered that he has precisely zero reason to exist, outside of Congress.  It’s very sad – and the GOP is equally hopeful that they can stop him. I talked to one of the candidates last week: Mark Oxner, businessman.  We discussed the race, and a good bit about why Mark was running.

Mark’s site is here; the primary is August 14th.

Moe Lane (crosspost)


New Obama Web Ad Confronts Romney’s Deceptive Editing


Reason Writers on Russia Today: Scott Shackford on Anaheim Shooting, Recording Law Enforcement 24/7 News Associate Editor Scott Shackford appeared
on Russia Today Monday afternoon to talk about the Anaheim police’s
weekend shooting and
violent response
to community protest. Also under discussion:
the importance of citizen recordings to hold not just the police
accountable, but to help the media or hold the media accountable
for their reporting of these incidents as well.


D.C. Police Officially Declare Photography Is Not a Crime

Last week, two years after
Washington, D.C., cops told Jerome Vorus to stop taking pictures of
a traffic stop in Georgetown and to stop recording his encounter
with them, the Metropolitan Police Department
a general order against such illegal interference with
citizens' exercise of their First Amendment rights. The order (PDF),
part of an agreement settling a federal lawsuit Vorus
last year with help from the American Civil Liberties
Union of the Nation's Capital, "recognizes that members of the
general public have a First Amendment right to video record,
photograph, and/or audio record MPD members while MPD members
are conducting official business or while acting in an
official capacity in any public space, unless such recordings
interfere with police activity." That was not the position
taken by the cops who detained Vorus in July 2010, four of whom
incorrectly informed him that he was breaking the law by
photographing and recording police without permission from the
department's public affairs office. To the contrary, Police Chief
Cathy Lanier says in the new directive, "A bystander has the same
right to take photographs or make recordings as a member of
the media, as long as the bystander has a legal right to be
present where he or she is located."

That right applies in "public settings" such as "parks,
sidewalks, streets, and locations of public protests" as
well as "an individual’s home or business, common areas of
public and private facilities and buildings, and any other
public or private facility at which the individual has a legal
right to be present." If someone is legally taking pictures or
making a recording, an officer may not "order that person to cease
such activity," "demand that person's identification," "demand
that the person state a reason why he or she is
taking photographs or recording," "detain that person,"
"intentionally block or obstruct cameras or recording devices," or
""in any way threaten, intimidate or otherwise discourage an
individual from recording [officers'] enforcement activities."
Furthermore, "a person has the right to express criticism of
the police activity being long as that
expression does not jeopardize the safety of any member,
suspect or bystander...and so long as that expression does not
violate the law or incite others to violate the law."

The order also establishes procedures for police access to
photographs or recordings that they have probable cause to believe
include "evidence of criminal acts." Instead of handing over his
device, a bystander can choose to transmit the files by email, for
example. If the bystander declines to cooperate, the officer can
seize the evidence without a warrant only in "exigent
circumstances" and only with clearance from the watch

Previous coverage of Vorus' case (including the story
embedded below) here.
More on camera-shy cops



Top Science Organizations Call for Presidential Science Debate

A group of scientific and engineering organizations is trying to get the presidential candidates to commit to a debate on science in America: Quest for Science Debate Continues.

As CJR points out, in the last election both John McCain and Barack Obama gave fairly detailed written responses. I have no doubt Obama would gladly participate again, but what are the odds that Mitt Romney will commit to something like this, in the anti-science era of the religious right and the Tea Party?

On Thursday, 15 top science and engineering organizations, from the American Organization for the Advancement of Science to the Union of Concerned Scientists, released a list of 14 questions that they would like the presidential candidates to answer, preferably in a televised debate.

The group was organized by the nonprofit science advocacy organization, which launched during the 2008 race in order to press Obama and his then challenger into a parley about scientific matters of national significance. Although over 38,000 scientists, politicians, journalists, and other supporters signed the call, the debate didn’t happen, but Obama and US Sen. John McCain did provide written responses, with a useful amount of detail, to that year’s list of 14 questions.

This year’s list—again crafted from suggestions from thousands of scientists, engineers, and others—hasn’t changed much. Questions about: the role of science and technology in innovation and the economy, climate change, energy, education, pandemics and biodiversity, ocean health, water, space, public health, and federal support for basic research remain basically the same as the last go-round. Questions about critical natural resources, the Internet, and food safety replaced ones about national security, genetics research, and stem cells. And a question about scientific integrity was reworked into a question about science in public policy.

Here's the proposed question about climate change:

2. Climate Change. The Earth’s climate is changing and there is concern about the potentially adverse effects of these changes on life on the planet. What is your position on cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and other policies proposed to address global climate change—and what steps can we take to improve our ability to tackle challenges like climate change that cross national boundaries?

I see a problem right there in the first sentence for Romney; as in many of his formerly moderate positions, he's flipped toward the far right position on climate change. In a recent speech, Romney would not concede that humans are causing climate change, embracing the denialism rampant in today's GOP:

"My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us. My view with regards to energy policy is pretty straightforward. I want us to become energy secure and independent of the oil cartels. And that means let’s aggressively develop our oil, our gas, our coal, our nuclear power."

I hope Mitt Romney does accept the challenge and debate Obama on science issues. It would be very interesting to see how he spins his answers to avoid angering the loonies in his party.


Florida Police Changed The Real Suspect’s Charges to Attempted Murder After They Fatally Shot Andrew Scott Instead

The fatal shooting of
Andrew Scott by Lake County, Florida police provoked a flurry of outrage on the
Internet and in Scott's own
. The anger is because Scott died in his
own doorway, because he was not the suspect for whom police
were searching; nor did police identify themselves when they came
to his door.

As I noted last week
, Scott answered the door while holding his
gun at 1:30 a.m. on July 15.
According to WFTV 9
, deputies saw the muzzle of the gun and
nothing else (implying that Scott did not open his door very wide)
and quickly, without identifying himself, K-9 Deputy Richard
Sylvester shot and killed Scott. His girlfriend was present in
the apartment and was heard screaming. After an hour and a half,
deputies realized they had shot the wrong man. They were actually
searching for suspect Jonathan Brown, whom they had trailed to
Scott's apartment complex. Turns out his apartment was
next door.

The controversial shooting, which a few news outlets tried to

temper by over-stressing the "drugs, scales, pipes,
and baggies"
 found in Scott's home (according to
police) became moreso with the recent discovery that police only
booked Brown on attempted murder after they had killed


[Brown's] attorney said "the good 'ol boy" network is
at play to overcharge Brown and push up his bond to keep him in

She said Brown feels terrible that his neighbor, Scott, was
killed when deputies went to his door, looking for Brown. 

Brown, an attempted murder suspect and former police officer,
walked into a Lake County courtroom wearing shackles on
his wrists and ankles after spending seven days in jail. 

His bond was cut from $100,000 to $20,000, but his attorney told
the judge even that's too much. 

"This entire case has just been blown out of proportion
because Lake County Sheriff's Office shot an innocent
man," said defense attorney Laura Hargrove. 

The defense said there's no evidence Brown was trying to kill

A witness told Leesburg police she saw Brown beating a man with
a concrete block, but the man refused medical treatment. 

Whether Brown will be charged with attempted murder or not
remains to be seen. Nevertheless, that
was how police first reported the incident
, which certainly
makes events seem more serious than assault charges and makes itchy
trigger fingers more understandable. 

Deputy Sylvester is now on the traditional administrative leave,
pending an investigation. But, reported WFTV 9, Lake County police
are still defending their
officer and their tactics.

"Regardless of how tired he was, regardless of how much overtime
he had this week, or last week, or the last three weeks, or the
last month, he took the action he was forced to take that given
moment," said Lt. John Herrell of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

No matter what, the Sheriff's Office said, Scott opened the door
with the gun pointed at them, and at this point, there's no
indication anyone said anything before Sylvester opened


The officers could have surrounded the front and then identified
themselves, especially since the officers did not actually see
Brown go into the door. 

"It was the middle of the night, so they felt it'd be more
tactically advantageous to just knock on the door, and that's what
we did," said Herrell. 

"If the name of the law enforcement agency was announced, do you
think this could've been prevented?" asked WFTV reporter Ryan

"Well, based upon what we found inside his home -- drugs,
scales, pipes, baggies -- I can't answer that. I don't know
what he thought," Herrell said. 

Reason on police; more on the
about the shooting


Libertarian Gary Johnson: In the Debates, Maybe?

Janet Brown of the Commission on Presidential Debates gives some

frustratingly vague promises
of possibilities for Gary Johnson
in the debates her group hosts to U.S. News and World
's "Washington Whispers" column:  

Brown told Whispers no decisions on candidate selection have
been made yet. Those lobbying to get Johnson in the debates, she
said, are "making assumptions about something that has not

.... The commission requires a candidate to secure at least 15
percent in selected polls, which Johnson has not yet done. (Gary
polled at 5.3 percent
in a poll earlier this month by JZ
Analytics; an April Public Policy Polling
poll showed him at 6 percent

Since Brown doesn't say anything about giving him a pass on that
15 percent polling, this still seems like a long shot; but at least
(I guess) it's good she isn't swearing that under any and all
circumstances there is no way Johnson will appear on that hallowed
stage. I suspect that many of Johnson's fans who complain about him
being "excluded from debates" consider that 15 percent wall for a
candidate who doesn't get many media opportunities (such as, duh,
appearing in national debates) to be unfairly high.

Another fun fact from that article:

a electoral map generated by data from, an online app that
connects voters with candidates based on their platform stances,
showed that
Johnson would be the next president
if voters cast ballots
based solely on the issues.

If only they did! (Rather than a toxic combination of tribalism,
ignorance, and feckless attempts to do good.)