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11/29/2005

Two talks tomorrow at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio

I have a talk on Wednesday at the Capital University Law School tomorrow at 4:30 on the judicial confirmation process.

UPDATE: I just want to say that both talks to the law school faculty and to the students that night were very enjoyable, and that it was particularly nice to spend time with Brad Smith and his family.

Donohue and Levitt on Abortion, How can they miss having used fixed effects?

"Correcting DL’s programming error is straightforward, because adding state-year controls requires only that we rewrite a line of computer code for each regression."
Quote from Foote and Goetz's paper, p. 8.


Sorry for making such a long post here, but I wanted to give non-statisticians at least a rough idea of what was required for john Donohue and Steve Levitt to miss seeing whether they had included fixed effects in their regressions on abortion. The two thoughtful authors from the Boston Fed mentioned the "programming oversight" done by Donohue and Levitt in their abortion research. I still believe that saying that is "being much too nice," but I will leave it to readers to decide what level of sloppiness is involved in this research. Here is an abortion regression with fixed effects (though I have three types of fixed effects rather than the two used by the Boston Fed people). It is hard for me to see how this could have been missed. If one looks at these regressions, it is just hard to see how someone could miss having included them. The state-year interactions discussed by Foote and Goetz would add up to ((51*number of years)-1) to the list of control variables. I only wish that Donohue and Levitt had provided me with their regressions and all their data when I first asked for this six years ago. Their refusal to provide this information is at best extremely unfortunate. The obvious thing is that they should be ashamed for not providing this information in a timely manner when it was asked for.

Here are two simple regressions. Obviously more control variables can be included, but I decided to just show the simplest case from my paper with John Whitley. Notice how in this case fixed effects change the coefficient sign on the abortionpop variable. Including an absorb statement can eliminate one set of these fixed effects from being reported and thus make this point less obvious, but the general point is still the same.

. xi:xtpois murders1 abortionpop Unktrnd- year_23, i(FIPSSTAT) irr pa robust
note: year_2 dropped due to collinearity
note: year_3 dropped due to collinearity
note: year_4 dropped due to collinearity
note: year_22 dropped due to collinearity

Iteration 1: tolerance = .09532036
Iteration 2: tolerance = .10020875
Iteration 3: tolerance = .03855165
Iteration 4: tolerance = .008876
Iteration 5: tolerance = .00160909
Iteration 6: tolerance = .00028531
Iteration 7: tolerance = .00005063
Iteration 8: tolerance = 8.966e-06
Iteration 9: tolerance = 1.588e-06
Iteration 10: tolerance = 2.813e-07

GEE population-averaged model Number of obs = 21756
Group variable: FIPSSTAT Number of groups = 51
Link: log Obs per group: min = 299
Family: Poisson avg = 426.6
Correlation: exchangeable max = 437
Wald chi2(40) = 196144.51
Scale parameter: 1 Prob > chi2 = 0.0000

(standard errors adjusted for clustering on FIPSSTAT)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Semi-robust
murders1 IRR Std. Err. z P>z [95% Conf. Interval]
-------------+----------------------------------------------------------------
abortionpop 1.405027 .2128516 2.24 0.025 1.044079 1.890756
Unktrnd 1.024132 .0046993 5.20 0.000 1.014963 1.033384
aFIPS_2 .0989696 .0001332 -1718.30 0.000 .0987088 .099231
aFIPS_4 .5898942 .0001919 -1622.84 0.000 .5895183 .5902703
aFIPS_5 .5880759 .0002303 -1355.74 0.000 .5876248 .5885275
aFIPS_6 5.794082 .0147365 690.75 0.000 5.765271 5.823037
aFIPS_8 .3988566 .000475 -771.84 0.000 .3979267 .3997886
aFIPS_9 .2799524 .0003301 -1079.79 0.000 .2793062 .2806001
aFIPS_10 .0661884 .0000789 -2277.49 0.000 .0660339 .0663433
aFIPS_11 .1034435 .0557807 -4.21 0.000 .0359503 .2976485
aFIPS_12 2.402414 .0112149 187.76 0.000 2.380533 2.424496
aFIPS_13 1.407365 .0012569 382.62 0.000 1.404904 1.409831
aFIPS_15 .1101832 .0002945 -825.28 0.000 .1096075 .1107619
aFIPS_16 .0940332 .0000456 -4871.68 0.000 .0939438 .0941227
aFIPS_17 1.614205 .0023658 326.72 0.000 1.609575 1.618849
aFIPS_18 .5732324 .0001949 -1636.57 0.000 .5728505 .5736146
aFIPS_19 .1128952 .0002638 -933.54 0.000 .1123794 .1134134
aFIPS_20 .2369441 .0024803 -137.56 0.000 .2321324 .2418555
aFIPS_21 .6326708 .0011611 -249.45 0.000 .6303992 .6349507
aFIPS_22 1.016173 .0002205 73.94 0.000 1.015741 1.016605
aFIPS_23 .0579125 .0002006 -822.27 0.000 .0575206 .0583071
aFIPS_24 .7755058 .0015016 -131.30 0.000 .7725683 .7784546
aFIPS_25 .3166921 .0007269 -500.97 0.000 .3152706 .3181199
aFIPS_26 1.645792 .0018611 440.58 0.000 1.642149 1.649444
aFIPS_27 .241033 .0002058 -1666.02 0.000 .2406298 .2414367
aFIPS_28 .5054685 .0002175 -1585.63 0.000 .5050424 .505895
aFIPS_29 .7520471 .000341 -628.41 0.000 .751379 .7527158
aFIPS_30 .0546092 .0002382 -666.66 0.000 .0541444 .0550781
aFIPS_31 .1011488 .0000618 -3747.60 0.000 .1010277 .1012701
aFIPS_32 .2792081 .0000737 -4831.47 0.000 .2790636 .2793526
aFIPS_33 .0504129 .0001025 -1469.58 0.000 .0502124 .0506142
aFIPS_34 .7724087 .0009178 -217.32 0.000 .7706118 .7742097
aFIPS_35 .2183319 .0004742 -700.57 0.000 .2174044 .2192634
aFIPS_36 2.17522 .0369114 45.80 0.000 2.104065 2.248782
aFIPS_37 1.589501 .0011554 637.51 0.000 1.587238 1.591767
aFIPS_38 .0182674 .0000229 -3195.96 0.000 .0182226 .0183123
aFIPS_39 1.225201 .0010425 238.71 0.000 1.223159 1.227246
aFIPS_40 .6485567 .0002798 -1003.57 0.000 .6480084 .6491054
aFIPS_41 .3239948 .0007478 -488.27 0.000 .3225324 .3254639
aFIPS_42 1.387713 .0019498 233.20 0.000 1.383897 1.39154
aFIPS_44 .0755543 .0000414 -4713.95 0.000 .0754732 .0756354
aFIPS_45 1.081743 .0003085 275.49 0.000 1.081138 1.082348
aFIPS_46 .02442 .0000246 -3684.40 0.000 .0243718 .0244683
aFIPS_47 .991302 .0002734 -31.67 0.000 .9907662 .991838
aFIPS_48 4.273158 .0012148 5108.87 0.000 4.270777 4.275539
aFIPS_49 .1169221 .0000596 -4211.61 0.000 .1168053 .1170389
aFIPS_50 .0294125 .0000315 -3295.45 0.000 .0293509 .0294743
aFIPS_51 1.147393 .0006312 249.93 0.000 1.146157 1.148631
aFIPS_53 .4719951 .0010989 -322.49 0.000 .4698463 .4741538
aFIPS_54 .3279638 .0001477 -2475.52 0.000 .3276744 .3282534
aFIPS_55 .3507432 .0007353 -499.74 0.000 .349305 .3521874
aFIPS_56 .0536214 .000039 -4025.53 0.000 .053545 .0536978
age1_11 1.966192 .3025431 4.39 0.000 1.454285 2.658291
age1_12 4.734692 .5743331 12.82 0.000 3.732831 6.005445
age1_13 13.53745 1.632393 21.61 0.000 10.68799 17.14659
age1_14 38.02512 5.282721 26.19 0.000 28.96113 49.92586
age1_15 87.06121 12.9882 29.94 0.000 64.98878 116.6302
age1_16 152.4797 23.9504 32.00 0.000 112.0757 207.4496
age1_17 220.7705 32.41546 36.76 0.000 165.5618 294.3892
age1_18 264.9041 39.6383 37.29 0.000 197.5701 355.1863
age1_19 274.0828 40.61976 37.88 0.000 204.9894 366.4645
age1_20 284.7132 47.03216 34.21 0.000 205.9664 393.5671
age1_21 234.3185 32.71881 39.08 0.000 178.2174 308.0798
age1_22 226.4202 32.14569 38.19 0.000 171.4222 299.0634
age1_23 214.5435 30.03564 38.35 0.000 163.0606 282.2811
age1_24 199.3217 28.51133 37.02 0.000 150.5903 263.8225
age1_25 212.4668 33.23983 34.25 0.000 156.3591 288.7082
age1_26 173.2493 24.38667 36.62 0.000 131.4788 228.2901
age1_27 166.417 23.04193 36.94 0.000 126.8648 218.3003
age1_28 159.6084 22.47962 36.02 0.000 121.1074 210.3493
age1_29 147.8315 19.87613 37.16 0.000 113.5853 192.4031
age1_30 161.0707 24.55669 33.33 0.000 119.4657 217.165
age1_31 1759.683 250.7702 52.44 0.000 1330.855 2326.688
age1_99 4.23e-18 3.85e-17 -4.39 0.000 7.45e-26 2.40e-10
year_5 1.532679 .118351 5.53 0.000 1.317416 1.783116
year_6 1.334756 .0968619 3.98 0.000 1.157794 1.538767
year_7 1.290539 .0928728 3.54 0.000 1.120766 1.486029
year_8 1.226638 .1079416 2.32 0.020 1.032316 1.45754
year_9 1.126 .0994771 1.34 0.179 .9469754 1.33887
year_10 1.120204 .0910245 1.40 0.162 .9552807 1.313601
year_11 1.223229 .0872979 2.82 0.005 1.063556 1.406874
year_12 1.135106 .0966264 1.49 0.137 .9606778 1.341206
year_13 1.234025 .0961375 2.70 0.007 1.05928 1.437598
year_14 1.271295 .0877407 3.48 0.000 1.11045 1.455437
year_15 1.378969 .1031067 4.30 0.000 1.190994 1.596613
year_16 1.483771 .1128602 5.19 0.000 1.278268 1.722313
year_17 1.410172 .0995151 4.87 0.000 1.228013 1.61935
year_18 1.433584 .0916863 5.63 0.000 1.264689 1.625035
year_19 1.367123 .0674563 6.34 0.000 1.241103 1.505939
year_20 1.20845 .0494248 4.63 0.000 1.11536 1.309309
year_21 1.048189 .0542946 0.91 0.364 .9469969 1.160194
year_23 .9175812 .0253189 -3.12 0.002 .869275 .9685718
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here is what it would look like without fixed effects:

. poisson murders1 abortionpop Unktrnd, irr robust

Iteration 0: log likelihood = -1248609.3
Iteration 1: log likelihood = -658235.69
Iteration 2: log likelihood = -544299.3
Iteration 3: log likelihood = -531248.22
Iteration 4: log likelihood = -531238.71
Iteration 5: log likelihood = -531238.71

Poisson regression Number of obs = 21756
Wald chi2(2) = 1419.07
Prob > chi2 = 0.0000
Log likelihood = -531238.71 Pseudo R2 = 0.2365

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Robust
murders1 IRR Std. Err. z P>z [95% Conf. Interval]
-------------+----------------------------------------------------------------
abortionpop .3488533 .0530301 -6.93 0.000 .2589701 .4699332
Unktrnd 1.001123 .0000327 34.38 0.000 1.001059 1.001187
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Update: An email from Carl Moody indicates that Donohue is giving out a regression file that accounts for fixed effects in at least one of the sets of estimates. The way that this is done indicates that they do not surpress the print out of the estimates and thus one would see whether fixed effects had been estimated. In any case, while I am very glad to see this now being made available, it would have been useful 4, 5, or 6 years ago when I was asking for the information.]
Update 2: It should also be made clear that despite whatever sloppiness occurred Donohue and Levitt have acknowledged the coding error and agree that correcting the error and using arrest rates suggests no effect of legalizing abortion on crime.

New Op-ed on Alito's Confirmation Process

11/28/2005

Levitt's Abortion "Disappeared" When "Programming" Error Fixed

Levitt's Abortion results disappeared when programming Error Fixed

"The Boston Fed's Mr. Foote says he spotted a missing formula in the programming oversight of Mr. Levitt's original research. He argues that the programming oversight made it difficult to pick up other factors that might have influenced crime rates during the 1980s and 1990s . . . . He also argues that Levitt should have counted arrests on a per-capita basis. Instead, he coundted overall arrests. After he adjusted for both factors, Mr. Foote says, the abortion effect disappeared.


Christopher L. Foote and Christopher F. Goetz's paper can be found here. Personally, I think calling this a "programming oversight" is being much too nice (See my post here to see an example of what you would have to miss to not notice whether you have used fixed effects). More importantly everyone who works with panel data knows that you use fixed effects.

My own work concentrated on murder rates, but I also included fixed effects. Donohue and Levitt never provided us with all their data or their regressions and would never answer any questions that we had so I just assumed that they had included fixed effects from the beginning. It would have been nice if they had provided us with this same information years ago.

My paper with John Whitley is available here.
A letter that I had in the WSJ is available here.
James Q. Wilson's review of this debate is available here.

UPDATE:

See also Steve Sailer's past work on this topic.
See also Steve Sailer's compliation of what others are saying here.

UPDATE II (I have been asked about inaccurate claims regarding my own research in More Guns, Less Crime):

See this for a discussion about claimed errors in More Guns, Less Crime

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Students can apply for scholarships for graduate and undergraduate studies

The returns to exercise seem pretty small

From the Washington Post

People who engaged in moderate activity -- the equivalent of walking for 30 minutes a day for five days a week -- lived about 1.3 to 1.5 years longer than those who were less active. Those who took on more intense exercise -- the equivalent of running half an hour a day five days every week -- extended their lives by about 3.5 to 3.7 years, the researchers found.


Suppose one exercises at the moderate level:
per year that is 130 hours = 52 (weeks)*5 (days)*.5 hours
over 50 years that is: 6,500 hours

There are 5,840 waking hours in a year. 8,175 over 1.4 years. At any reasonable interest rate, in terms of purely longevity, there is a strong negative return to exercise. For this to pay off, one must really enjoy the process of exercise or that it greatly improves the quality of life.

Beyond all that is the issue of the type of people who exercise. My guess is that the people who exercise generally tend to be more educated and have other characteristics (e.g., being married because they take care of themselves) that are associated with longer life expectancies. There is no mention that the study controls for such factors as income, education, and marriage.

11/27/2005

National Crime Victimization Survey Data on Self Defense

More Crime Problems in UK: Surge in unsolved crimes

If people don't think that reporting the crime to the police is less and less likely to accomplish anything, this can result in reported crime falling farther below actual crime rates. This increase in reported crime could thus underestimate the true increase in crime. It is also a reason that crime rates will increase if criminals have less to worry about. Part of the increase in unsolved crimes is consistent with the increase in gang related crime in the UK. Overall, it raises additional questions about people in the UK being able to rely on law enforcement for protection.

MORE than 100,000 police crime reports were ditched before reaching court by Scotland's prosecutors last year, up a third on the previous 12 months and the strongest indication yet of the crisis gripping the nation's justice system.

Despite many thousands of hours of detective work, fiscals marked a total of 106,481 crime reports with "no proceedings" compared with 81,028 in 2003/2004. The abandoned cases ranged from 'petty' crimes such as vandalism to serious assault.

Prosecutors insist most cases were shelved on the grounds of insufficient evidence but critics say the massive increase proves the courts and prosecutors are under intolerable pressure. . . . .

Over the same period, the amount of crime reported to the Crown rose only marginally, from 321,000 to 323,000. This means the proportion of abandoned crime reports has increased in 12 months from a quarter to more than a third.


Thanks very much to John WIlliamson for sending me this link.

"Pew Research Center Poll Shows Liberals, Media Out of Touch"

A new poll shows a large difference between how the general population and the media view the war in Iraq.

Of interest is a recent Pew Research Center for the People & the Press poll, which ascertained crucial and marked differences between the leftist media and those in academe and the American public. This conducted poll illustrated the difference in attitudes toward the US war against terrorism in Iraq and compared the Left’s answers to the general US public.

The results belied the [Mainstream Media] MSM’s “reporting” and were startling. Startling, that is, to all except those of us who already knew that the MSM’s reportage was and is bogus. It also confirms that the MSM does not report any news correctly if it strays from their agenda. Instead, old leftist media manipulate the news to support their own desires and schemes. Although the MSM tells us constantly that the majority of Americans are against the Iraq war, the new Pew poll data contradicts that assertion. The poll revealed the following information on the asked question

“Do you think democracy will succeed in Iraq?”

• 56% of the American public polled said “Yes”
• 64% of the US military in Iraq said “Yes’
• 33% of journalists said it only ‘had a chance’
• 27% of the academic world said it might succeed

When asked if they thought the decision for military action in Iraq was the correct one, those polled responded with almost 50% of the American public saying “Yes”. However, on the liberal/leftist side of the fence only 21% of academics and 28% of the press believes it was justified. Hmmm. It strongly appears that any “factual results”, regarding the Iraq scenario, old media report are taken from their own small and ever-decreasing groups! And from what I’ve observed, most (if not all) of these polls are heavily-weighted toward the liberal side of the house. That is, more liberals’ results are included in polling data than those identifying themselves as conservatives. Again—no surprise here!

11/26/2005

Canadian Liberals cynically play gun issue

While my research indicates that it is much more effective to increase the penalty for the crime you want stopped rather than imposing a penalty for how it is stopped, it is interesting to see how the Liberals have a difficult time even imposing a stiffer penalty on gun crime. They want to ban guns (which is basically obeyed by law abiding citizens), but Liberals don't want to impose a greater penalty on criminals who use guns in crime. Might it be because they want to keep the issues alive so that they can argue for more restrictions on law-abiding citizens?

Yesterday, in the dying hours of Parliament just before an election is forced on them Monday, they tabled a bill to, wait for it, get tough on gun crime.

Of course, it will die on the order paper as soon as Parliament is dissolved -- two days from now.

Among other things, the bill proposes increased mandatory minimum sentences for some gun crimes, an idea Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, who introduced the legislation, opposed until just a few weeks ago. Even so, this Liberal bill falls far short of much tougher sentencing provisions proposed by the Conservatives.

Besides, everyone knows the Liberals aren't serious about this. They just want to have something to wave at voters when they're accused on the campaign trail of being soft on crime -- particularly violent urban gun crime of the type that has plagued Toronto since the summer.

New Push for Expanding Gun Control

Another push to expand the background database for gun purchases. The three cases noted in this article are over multiple years and the question is rarely asked about whether it is likely that these killers would have gotten weapons elsewhere. For example, there are no studies that I know of that find that background checks generally reduce violent crime rates. We all want to keep guns away from those who would do harm, but just because a person had a problem at one time doesn't mean that will be so forever and there are obvious costs and benefits to these restrictions. In any case, there are a lot of privacy opponents to having a central database on mental illness records.

In Alabama, a man with a history of mental illness killed two police officers with a rifle he bought on Christmas Eve.

In suburban New York, a schizophrenic walked into a church during Mass and shot to death a priest and a parishioner.

In Texas, a woman taking anti-psychotic medication used a shotgun to kill herself.

Not one of their names was in a database that licensed gun dealers must check before making sales _ even though federal law prohibits the mentally ill from purchasing guns.

Most states have privacy laws barring such information from being shared with law enforcement. Legislation pending in Congress that has bipartisan support seeks to get more of the disqualifying records in the database.

In addition to mandating the sharing of mental health records, the legislation would require that states improve their computerized record-keeping for felony records and domestic violence restraining orders and convictions, which also are supposed to bar people from purchasing guns.

Similar measures, opposed by some advocates for the mentally ill and gun-rights groups, did not pass Congress in 2002 and 2004.

The FBI, which maintains the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, has not taken a position on the bill, but the bureau is blunt about what adding names to its database would do. . . .


Thanks to Andrew Breitbart for sending this.

11/25/2005

Scalia on Bush v. Gore

Justice Scalia says that because of Gore the issue wasn't whether courts would step into the election, but which court would make the final decision.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says the high court did not inject itself into the 2000 presidential election.

Speaking at the Time Warner Center last night, Scalia said: "The election was dragged into the courts by the Gore people. We did not go looking for trouble."

But he said the court had to take the case.

"The issue was whether Florida's Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court [would decide the election.] What did you expect us to do? Turn the case down because it wasn't important enough?"

The conservative justice, who grew up in Queens, contended there would have been a difficult transition had the court not stepped in.

He also pointed out that studies by news organizations after the election showed Bush still would have won a Florida recount.

Doctors inconsistently evaluating different types of activities?

11/24/2005

Workplace shooting stopped by armed business owner

Happy Thanksgiving

I have a lot to be thankful for. I wish everyone a happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving today.

Gun Ownership Rates set to Plummet in South Africa

According to the Central Firearms Register, those failing to comply with firearms control legislation would be arrested, have their weapons confiscated and would have to appear in court.

The latest figures indicated that more than 500 000 firearms licences still had to be renewed before December 31.

Abe van Tonder, an accredited firearms trainer in Cape Town, doubted whether this target would be reached.

“There is a small increase in people turning up for training but it isn’t nearly as many as I expected. I ordered more manuals because I expected hundreds of gun owners to come to me for training during the next month of two,” he said.

“This is not happening. I suspect the red tape with paperwork puts people off. Gun owners hand in their firearms at police stations instead of going for training.”

11/23/2005

Letter that I have in today's Washington Times

BBC: Police shootings out of control in Brazil?

new evidence suggests that many of the shootings are cold-blooded executions conducted by the police.

Former police ombudsman Professor Julita Lemgruber has told BBC World Service's Assignment programme that, in the state of Rio alone, the police killed 983 people last year. The figure is similar for Sao Paulo.

"The federal government should be challenging the various state governments in Brazil about the hundreds of people that the police kill in this country," she says.

Victims

As a former ombudsman, Professor Lemgruber was responsible for investigating the police as part of a previous crack down on corruption.

In the past five years, the number of fatal police shootings has more than doubled. Based on her experience as a government official, Professor Lemgruber says she believes the police are free to act with impunity.


Thanks to JM for sending this to me. As he noted to me, "If the government were wanting the people completely disarmed, one wonders if this is why, were some of the people having the pluck to fight back?"

Handgun are banned in Britian, but police more concerned than ever

Concealed Carry May have saved lives in the Tacoma Mall shooting

This surely hasn't gotten much coverage. I did a fast search and couldn't find any other stories that mentioning concealed handguns.

A confrontation between Dominick S. Maldonado, the Tacoma Mall shooting suspect, and the most severely injured victim, Brendan “Dan” McKown, 38, may have stopped Maldonado’s shooting spree Sunday.

McKown, an assistant manager at Excalibur Cutlery and Gifts, pulled a gun on Maldonado outside of the Kits Camera outlet, according to his mother, Patricia Schuman, who said police told her what happened.

Police are unsure whether McKown fired at Maldonado.

McKown almost always carried a gun, his family said, in case he needed to come to someone's aid.

He had been walking through the mall to make a deposit when he met Maldonado.

Maldonado shot McKown probably three times in the side from a distance of 20 feet, severing his bowel and injuring his spinal cord. McKown, who's also a stand-up comic, might never walk again.

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11/22/2005

Guns in the workplace myths

The Buckeye Firearms Association has a useful discussion about some recent claims repeated on NPR here.

11/21/2005

If the government can't protect you on the border . . .

I assume that this is a civilian version of an AK47 (in other words it is not a machine gun and no different than other similar caliber rifles), but it is likely to get readers attention better by writing the story this way:

. . . Welcome to the Wild West 2005, where modern-day cowboys still guard their land from interlopers - but using AK47s and four-wheel drives instead of Winchester rifles and horses.

Mr McCaslin's small mine sits on a knoll of red earth and scrub near the Mexican border. Like his 19th-century predecessors, he is sure there is money in "them thar hills" after a geological survey indicated there may be rich veins of silver.

Today, however, he has other priorities. For the mine also sits in the middle of a network of trails used by heavily-armed Mexican trafficking gangs to smuggle people and drugs into America.

Notoriously porous, the border has reached new levels of lawlessness this year as smugglers, known as "coyotes", have become increasingly brazen, willing to fire on anyone - from border patrols to the likes of Mr McCaslin - who gets in their way. . . .

11/20/2005

Biden on Alito and one-man one-vote

I was just listening to Fox News Sunday where Chris Wallace was interviewing Senator Joe Biden. Biden was outraged: "The part that jeopardizes it (Alito's nomination) more is his quotes in there saying that he had strong disagreement with the Warren Court particularly on reapportionment - one man, one vote." This is going to be some what amusing to see US Senators go after Alito on this given that Senators are elected to represent such differently sized states. The original Supreme Court decision dealt with the issue of state Senates, but it was never clear to me what US Senators could represent different size constituencies, but state Senators could not.

Does Age Regression Reform Criminals?

More on 85 year old WWII vet whose property is being taken away to give to other private individuals

Johnnie Stevens is an 85 year old WWII veteran. His doctor has told him he has lung cancer and about 2 years left to live. Now officials in New Jersey want to take his home away.

This man fought in a war where Black men like him were sent to separate facilities for most everything. He fought in the war where groups like The Tuskegee Airmen had to be created, just so Black men could actually see flight time in combat! But amidst all this he fought for his country and proudly wears military garb. Because despite all adversity he believed in America. He believed in the dream. We have seen those old days of segregation pass and the opportunities he believed would come have now been realized. What a testament to the greatness of a nation, that so much could change in one man’s lifetime! With little life left, he was planning to live his last days in his home and tend to his garden. This dying veteran’s final dream is being taking away from him, by the power that is found in the abuse of eminent domain!


See my original post: John Lott's Website: An outrageous eminent domain case

Another Adscam Scandal for Canada's Liberal Party?

Canada's gun registery may end gun control in Canada.

DOUG BEAZLEY, "GUN REGISTRY COSTS THE NEXT ADSCAM," The Edmonton Sun, 11/19/2005, p.11

. . . And there's one scandal festering in the halls of power that needs another year to ripen.

I'm talking about the $500 million-plus the Liberals have spent on computer systems for the federal gun registry, the $2 billion white elephant that makes Adscam look like an expense-account pack of chewing gum.

That's over half a billion dollars, folks - more money than anyone I've talked to can recall anyone ever spending on a computer system since the damn things were invented. Wasting that kind of money takes something more than mere incompetence. Call it wilful stupidity, corruption, greed - all the ingredients that went into Adscam, with deeper pockets.

Days ago, Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz released a spreadsheet listing 24 separate contracts for "information technology" associated with the Canadian Firearms Centre. The sheet lists only contract sums - ranging from $318 million down to a piddling $19,650 - and the names of the companies involved.

There is no breakdown of how much was spent on hardware, software and staff time - this, despite months of requests from Breitkreuz's office. How much do computer systems cost? A Cray supercomputer capable of making a trillion calculations in a second will set you back about $10 million.

Nav Canada, the national agency that runs air traffic control systems, has spent about $1 billion since 1996 on upgrading systems at most of Canada's 108 federal airports.

Toronto's Pearson airport sees 400,000 flights a year; Nav Canada spent $17 million seven years ago building Pearson a brand new control tower, complete with systems and software.

The CFC system is nothing more than a database - it only needs to keep track of about eight million firearms. And yet, the feds managed to spend enough on this one database to provide computing power for a manned mission to Mars.

Something is very, very wrong here. This stinks of graft, Adscam writ twice as large. Breitkreuz thinks the feds blew a lot of money replacing earlier database systems, after it became clear they weren't capable of handling the work. But that still can't explain the whopping price tag. . . .

11/19/2005

Great movie about Johnny Cash's life, Walk the Line

I don't think that I have previously posted a plug for a movie, but if you are at all a Johnny Cash fan (and even if you are not), you really must go see the new movie "Walk the Line." Great performances. Great Story. Great music.

11/18/2005

What happens when unarmed police meet armed robbers

Bush Critics very angry at Bob Woodward

11/17/2005

An outrageous eminent domain case

Taking an old veteran's house to give to another private party:

Johnnie Stevens Fights for His Home

A July 17, 2005, article in the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that 761st veteran Johnnie Stevens is involved in a controversy relating to planned condemnation of the home where he and his wife have lived for nearly a decade so that the land can be used for a luxury townhouse development. "Given less than two years to live because of lung cancer, Stevens hoped that he would not be pushed out by the borough's ambitious efforts to redevelop the run-down neighborhood." The controversy has recently become part of the political landscape in New Jersey, as politicians are using the situation to debate the legal doctrine of eminent domain that allows governments to take land by condemnation for use in development projects. In 1999 the area was designated a redevelopment zone and about two years ago a developer was chosen from several applicants and signed an agreement to build 400 luxury townhouses and condominiums, luxury apartments and retail and commercial space lining a widened avenue bordered by shade trees. The land owned by Stevens has been earmarked for use as an entrance to the new townhouse community. In the fall of 2004, Stevens received a letter from the developer offering to buy his property. "He turned it down, hired an attorney and is gearing up to fight the city's effort to take his property through eminent domain. 'This eminent domain is one of the most intimidating things you know of,' said Stevens, who breathes with the help of an oxygen machine." The 84-year-old Stevens is a World War II veteran awarded the Bronze Star as a member of the 761st Tank Battalion. "After what I've given to this country. I think I've earned my little piece of land. I just want to have my little garden and sit in my own back yard," Stevens said.

Washington Times gets it wrong on guns

Other cities have tried what San Francisco wants to try, only to reap disappointment. The murder rate dropped in Washington, D.C., after it outlawed handguns in 1976 -- but, as Mr. Kleck has shown, no more than in nearby Baltimore, which did not prohibit them. Chicago's 1982 ban didn't prevent corpses from piling up faster in following years.


In fact, while DC's murder rate was 26.8 in 1976 it rose to 27.8, 28, 27.4 31.5 and 35.1 in the following five years and while it has gone up and down since then, the murder rate after 1976 has only once fallen below what it was in 1976. DC's murder rate numbers are available here.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell in Trouble in the Polls

Ever since I had a debate with Gov. Ed Rendell when he was then mayor of Philadelphia, he has not been one of my favorite people. In any case, it is interesting to see that the latest opinion polls in Pennsylvania show that his "favorable ratings are nearly as high as his unfavorables -- 39 to 38 percent -- according to a Franklin & Marshall College Keystone Poll of 1,145 Pennsylvanians . . . ." Donald Lambro, writing for the Washington Times, notes that " is in a statistical dead heat with Mr. Scranton, who just 3 points behind -- 44 to 41 percent. Mr. Swann is 4 points behind, 47 to 43 percent. These are astonishing numbers at this early stage in the election cycle, suggesting a prominent Democratic governor from a major electoral state is in danger of being knocked off by the Republicans."

Possibly all this is not too surprising given Rendell's support for the very unpopular salary increase for state officials (it was just rescinded) and his constant budget vetos eventually forcing through a significant income tax increase, though he wanted an even bigger one.

11/16/2005

Evaluating the impact of gun control: Something to keep in mind

Democrats statements about WMDs/Iraq

Collected in one place here are a lot of quotes about what Democrats said early on about the threat that Sadam Hussein poised. At the end of the list are statements discussion what various intelligence services believed about WMDs and the threat posed by Hussein..

UPDATE: While overseas in DUBAI, United Arab Emrates,, Bill Clinton announced that "[The War] was a big mistake. The American government made several errors ... one of which is how easy it would be to get rid of Saddam and how hard it would be to unite the country." .

11/15/2005

Copy of radio interview debate on KUOW in Seattle

Who goes shooting

Mark Yost has a nice story about his experience at a shooting range:

. . . It was clear from the fathers and sons at the range that the shooting sports still are a central part of together time for some families. Indeed, it was heartwarming to watch a grandfather help his 20-something grandson adjust the scope on his rifle. Watching made me think that's what I look like when I'm teaching my son, George, 7, to shoot.

Seeing kids on the shooting range was especially gratifying. You could see the look of anticipation — almost like Christmas morning — on their faces as they walked quickly to a high-powered spotting scope to see how well they'd done. Their beaming faces told the results.

It also was encouraging to see that all the kids weren't your stereotypical hunters from rural families. There was one teen with pierced ears and ripped jeans putting rounds downrange as accurately as anyone. There also were two 20-something buddies who looked like they could just as easily have been at a rave as the gun range.

"I've got buck fever bad," one said to the other. That means he's anxious to get in the woods and get his first deer of the season.

Watching the Bill of Rights in action, I had to wonder how anyone could demonize this lifestyle. But demonized it has been. . . .

Judge Sam Alito on Abortion compared to Some Liberals

Yesterday much was made of Alito's 1985 statement that
"the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion"


This last weekend at the Federalist Society meeting, Cass Sunstein made some brief remark about Roe not being rightly decided. But here are some other quotes that I have:

Laurence Tribe — Harvard Law School. Lawyer for Al Gore in 2000.

“One of the most curious things about Roe is that, behind its own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found.”

“The Supreme Court, 1972 Term—Foreword: Toward a Model of Roles in the Due Process of Life and Law,” 87 Harvard Law Review 1, 7 (1973).

Jeffrey Rosen — Legal Affairs Editor, The New Republic
“In short, 30 years later, it seems increasingly clear that this pro-choice magazine was correct in 1973 when it criticized Roe on constitutional grounds. Its overturning would be the best thing that could happen to the federal judiciary, the pro-choice movement, and the moderate majority of the American people.
….

“Thirty years after Roe, the finest constitutional minds in the country still have not been able to produce a constitutional justification for striking down restrictions on early-term abortions that is substantially more convincing than Justice Harry Blackmun’s famously artless opinion itself. As a result, the pro-choice majority asks nominees to swear allegiance to the decision without being able to identify an intelligible principle to support it.”

“Worst Choice” The New Republic February 24, 2003

John Hart Ely — Yale Law School
l
Roe “is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.”
….

“What is frightening about Roe is that this super-protected right is not inferable from the language of the Constitution, the framers’ thinking respecting the specific problem in issue, any general value derivable from the provisions they included, or the nation’s governmental structure. Nor is it explainable in terms of the unusual political impotence of the group judicially protected vis-à-vis the interest that legislatively prevailed over it.… At times the inferences the Court has drawn from the values the Constitution marks for special protection have been controversial, even shaky, but never before has its sense of an obligation to draw one been so obviously lacking.”

“The Wages of Crying Wolf: A Comment on Roe v. Wade,” 82 Yale Law Journal, 920, 935-937 (1973).

Ruth Bader Ginsburg — Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

“Roe, I believe, would have been more acceptable as a judicial decision if it had not gone beyond a ruling on the extreme statute before the court. … Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict.”

North Carolina Law Review, 1985


UPDATE: One should always consider that ninth amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Thomas Sowell Explains Some Basic Economics

Thomas Sowell asks whether discrimination can explain the high unemployment rate among French Muslims. Hint: labor market price regulations.

Let us go back a few generations in the United States. We need not speculate about racial discrimination because it was openly spelled out in laws in the Southern states, where most blacks lived, and was not unknown in the North.

Yet in the late 1940s, the unemployment rate among young black men was not only far lower than it is today but was not very different from unemployment rates among young whites the same ages. Every census from 1890 through 1930 showed labor force participation rates for blacks to be as high as, or higher than, labor force participation rates among whites. . . .

People who are less in demand -- whether because of inexperience, lower skills, or race -- are just as employable at lower pay rates as people who are in high demand are at higher pay rates. That is why blacks were just as able to find jobs as whites were, prior to the decade of the 1930s and why a serious gap in unemployment between black teenagers and white teenagers opened up only after 1950. . . .

The first federal minimum wage law, the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, was passed in part explicitly to prevent black construction workers from "taking jobs" from white construction workers by working for lower wages. It was not meant to protect black workers from "exploitation" but to protect white workers from competition. . . .

The net economic effect of minimum wage laws is to make less skilled, less experienced, or otherwise less desired workers more expensive -- thereby pricing many of them out of jobs. Large disparities in unemployment rates between the young and the mature, the skilled and the unskilled, and between different racial groups have been common consequences of minimum wage laws. . . .

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"Supreme Court lets stand ban on voting by felons"

Given that the constitution explicitly recognizes that felons can be denied the right to vote and that given there are also sorts of colateral penalties that felons suffer, the court cases that try to restore just this one particular right to felons have always puzzled me. I know that these criminals overwhelmingly vote for Democrats, but it has not seemed like the smartest political move for people like Senator Clinton to support murderers and rapists being able to vote.

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected a challenge to Florida's ban on voting rights for felons, letting stand a 137-year-old law that applies to both inmates and ex-convicts.

The justices offered no comment in deciding not to review the ban, similar versions of which apply in every state, except Maine and Vermont. . . .

The high court's refusal to hear the Florida voting rights case, meanwhile, was met with dismay by lawyers representing ex-convicts seeking the right to vote -- specifically those who have served their time and been released from jail.

"This is a sad day for our democracy," said Catherine Weiss, associate counsel for New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, the lead counsel in the case. "The court has not only missed an opportunity to right a great historic injustice, it has shut the courthouse door in the face of hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised citizens." The Brennan Center said the Florida law bars more than 600,000 people from voting.

Busy day

Lots of radio interviews today from Vancouver to Indiana to Seattle plus a panel presentation at the Georgetown University Law School on Alito's nomination.

11/14/2005

Filibuster of Alito Becoming More Likely?

From yesterday's Meet the Press:

MR. RUSSERT: The Supreme Court...

DR. DEAN: Yes.

MR. RUSSERT: ...the president has nominated Sam Alito to the Supreme Court. Should the Democrats in the Senate--there's only 45 of them, but if they stayed together as a block...

DR. DEAN: Right.

MR. RUSSERT: ...they could filibuster and prevent Judge Alito from going to the Supreme Court. Should they?

DR. DEAN: I must say I rarely read editorials and I rarely agree with the ones I read. But The New York Times ran an editorial today which I think is very instructive for the Democratic Party. This could be a defining moment. Judge Alito is a hard-working man, a good family man, but his opinions are well outside the mainstream of American public opinion. He condones a strip-search of a 10-year-old when the police had no such warrant or indication to do so. He condoned the crafting of an all-white jury to hear a black defendant's case by a prosecutor. He condoned the states not having to listen to the Family Medical Leave Act. He condoned government interference in private family matters and family decision- making. This is well outside the mainstream of where Americans are. I think the Democrats are going to have to think long and hard as the hearings progress about whether we should support him. There's some grave questions about him, and I do hope that they will stick together.


From Sunday's New York Times:

Judge Samuel Alito has been working hard to win over moderate Democratic senators. But just as it would be irresponsible to reject his nomination to the Supreme Court without giving him a full hearing, it is unwise to embrace it - or rule out the possibility of a filibuster - until more is known. . . .

The Alito nomination comes at a critical moment for the Democratic Party. With President Bush's poll numbers plummeting, Democrats are finding a new optimism about their chances in 2006 and 2008. But to capitalize on the Republicans' weakness, the party needs to show that it has an alternative vision for the country. As the Democrats refine their message for next year's elections, the first thing they need to be able to say to the American people is that they did not sit by idly while the far right took over the Supreme Court and began dismantling fundamental rights and freedoms.

Poll Tested Attack On Alito

us on abortion rights, a coalition of liberal groups opposing the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel Alito is preparing a national TV advertising campaign accusing him of threatening rights through other areas, including police searches and employment discrimination.

The effort to turn the subject away from abortion -- which has dominated the discussion among supporters and detractors of the Alito nomination -- comes as Democrats are trying to dispel their party's image as too absolutist on the issue.

People involved in the liberal groups' effort said, however, that the advertising strategy reflected more specific poll results showing that Alito could be more vulnerable to attacks on other aspects of his record. A poll commissioned by the Alliance for Justice, one of the groups leading the coalition, highlighted elements of the judge's record unrelated to abortion that could have greater resonance with moderate voters.

One issue the poll raised was his support as a Reagan administration lawyer of an employer's right to fire someone who had AIDS. Another issue was a judicial opinion he wrote supporting a police strip-search of a drug dealer's female partner and her 10-year-old daughter. Others included his judicial votes against employment discrimination suits and an opinion overturning part of the Family and Medical Leave Act. . . .

11/13/2005

911 tape of Susan Gaylord Buxton

A copy of part of Susan Gaylord Buxton's self defense that was overheard on the 911 call to police can be found here. The operator telling the granddaughter to stop her grandmother from shooting the gun is outrageous since the operator had no idea what was going on at the scene. The whole exchange just goes to show how much can happen while one is waiting for the police to arrive at a crime scene.

Man attacked for second time considers getting a concealed handgun permit

LUCAS Dawson began carrying a knife after being attacked while kissing his male lover in a South Philadelphia Park four years ago.

Now, after a second assault by gay bashers - one of whom he killed in self-defense - Dawson's thinking about getting a gun.

The 21-year-old was cleared yesterday of charges in the fatal stabbing of a 17-year-old boy who was among a group that attacked him near his East Mount Airy home on Oct. 29.

There was great relief at the Dawson home yesterday after the decision by a Municipal Court judge, but now the concern is his safety.

Last night, Dawson packed to leave home for fear of retaliation.

"I mean, seven guys jumped me, and one guy died," he said. "There's still six other people that want to hurt me.

"I fear for my safety, and that's why I'm moving away," he added. "I won't carry a knife on me anymore, but I am considering getting a gun permit." . . .

"GALLUP POLL ON POLICE SHOWS WHY MORE CITIZENS ARE BUYING GUNS"

A Gallup poll showing the greatest decline of public confidence in law enforcement in ten years largely explains why a growing number of Americans are arming themselves for protection against criminals, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) said today.

Gallup's annual Crime Poll was conducted in mid-October. Gallup randomly contacted 1,012 adults across the country. The results revealed that confidence in the ability of police to protect people from violent crime has slipped from 61 percent last year to 53 percent this year.

"In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, where thousands of Americans were left to fend for themselves in an environment of looting and more serious crime, the poll results are understandable," said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. "Americans witnessed on national television why it is so important for them to be able to take care of themselves, their families, and their property. They are buying firearms and learning how to use them."

11/11/2005

Trouble in Virginia AG Election?

Stephen Moore writes at OpinionJournal's Political Diary that:

Tuesday's elections aren't over in Virginia -- not by a long shot. On Tuesday night Republican candidate for attorney general Bob McDonnell appeared to have won the race against Democrat Creigh Deeds by 1,600 votes out of 1.9 million cast. But Mr. Deeds isn't conceding and Republicans in the state fear that Virginia may be headed for a long, drawn-out process reminiscent of Palm Beach, Florida in 2000 or last November's multiple recount fiasco in Washington State.

Adding to the GOP jitters is that Mr. McDonnell's margin of victory keeps shrinking by the hour, with the latest tally showing Mr. McDonnell now up by less than 1,100 votes. With each new report, the Democrat Mr. Deeds continues to pick up votes in one of the largest and most Democratic counties in the state, Fairfax, outside of Washington, D.C. Mr. Deeds won Fairfax by nearly 15 percentage points and the president of the Board of Elections in Fairfax happens to be Larry Byrne, the husband of Leslie Byrne, the liberal Democrat who ran unsuccessfully as Lt. Governor candidate for the Democrats. Not only has Mr. Byrnes refused to recuse himself from the recount process, but he has also shut out Republicans from overseeing the process. A top aide to Mr. McDonnell tells us: "An ostensibly public process of handling the ballots has become non-public. Our people can't oversee what the board is doing."

Another reason for Republicans to be nervous is that Mr. Deeds not only refuses to concede defeat but has even named a transition team, which could be the first time in Virginia history that a losing candidate has appointed people to make plans for assuming office anyway. Mr. Deeds is now alleging a voting machine malfunction in the Roanoke area. "When every vote is counted, I will be the next Attorney General in Virginia," he says. Mr. McDonnell's forces are worried that every vote will be counted and recounted -- and then some -- until Democrats reach the desired result.

More on grandmother (Susan Buxton) who probably saved her life with a gun

This is a really well done piece from the Dallas Morning News, and the entire piece is worth reading:

If you favor more stringent gun laws, they're the people who come to mind: drug-addled stickup artists, dimwits who keep loaded weapons with kids in the house, bad-tempered drunks and psycho stalkers and cop-killers with nothing to lose.

But there are less-celebrated people who could make a pretty good case in favor of responsible gun ownership. Susan Gaylord Buxton, the Arlington woman who shot and wounded a housebreaker early Wednesday, might give even the most ardent gun-control activist a moment's pause.

Talk-show hosts and radio jocks have had a lot of fun with the story of the 66-year-old grandma who was packin' a .38 pistol when she found a bald-headed, muscle-bound burglar crouching in her front-hall coat closet.

She warned him to get down and lie still – you can hear it on the 911 tape – but when he ignored her and tried to grab the gun, she shot him in the thigh. . . .

Karl Rove at the Federalist Society

Karl Rove gave a talk tonight at the Federalist Society annual dinner. My reaction was somewhat different than this report by Reuters. The first thing that struck me was Roves claim at the beginning of his talk that the Bush administration had ended judicial activism. To say the least, I was a little surprised at this claim and thought that I had misheard it, but it was clear that this activism had already ended. Many cases immediately came to mind such as Kelo or the juvenile death penalty cases from this past year. Rove also gave a ringing defense of Harriet Miers and to my surprise also there were a number of people (though a clear minority) who stood up and applauded her.

11/10/2005

Possibly this explains why Californians voted the way they did on Tuesday

Gun Probably Saved Grandmother's life (Susan Gaylord Buxton)

Arlington, Texas
A 66-year-old grandmother shot an intruder in her north Arlington home early Wednesday as he grabbed for her gun, she told police.
Susan Gaylord Buxton said the training she received to earn her concealed-handgun permit saved her life.
"If I didn't have a gun to protect myself, I probably wouldn't be here," she said.
The man, identified as Christopher Lessner, 22, was under police guard Wednesday at Harris Methodist Fort Worth, where he was being treated for a leg wound, said Christy Gilfour, Arlington police spokeswoman.
Buxton said she used a .38-caliber revolver. Gilfour confirmed that the woman has a gun permit.
Lessner was shot sometime after 12:30 a.m. He had initially fled from officers at about 11:15 p.m. Tuesday during a traffic stop on Interstate 30 at Fielder Road, Gilfour said.
Buxton told officers that she was letting her dog out about 12:30 a.m. when she noticed a muddy footprint on her back porch.
Buxton told police that she usually carried her gun because she was afraid of coyotes attacking her dogs.
She said her 28-year-old granddaughter, who was in the house, heard glass breaking. Buxton also noticed that her cats were out of their room and that items in another room had been moved, police said.
When she yanked open the door of her front closet and pulled a coat away, she saw the face of a man, who motioned for her to be quiet, the woman said.
He then "jumped out of there like a jack-in-a-box,'' she said.
She told him to get on the floor or she'd shoot. He fumbled with the front door with one hand and reached for the gun with the other, Buxton said.
She then fired her revolver, which was loaded with hollow-point bullets, she said.
Buxton said she could have killed the man because her concealed-carry instructors taught her to aim for the torso. But she said she aimed for his leg. . . .


Thanks very much to Russell Wright and Cam Reinhart for sending this story to me.

Who are the bad guys in Iraq?

Dan Gifford's son, who just had a tour of duty in Iraq, had a lot of interesting things to say about his time there. Here is one of the facts that he mentioned:

"Most of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi Al Qaeda group. They operate mostly in Anbar province (Fallujah and Ramadi). These are mostly "foreigners", non-Iraqi Sunni Arab Jihadists from all over the Muslim world (and Europe). Most enter Iraq through Syria (with, of course, the knowledge and complicity of the Syrian govt.) , and then travel down the "rat line" which is the trail of towns along the Euphrates River that we've been hitting hard for the last few months. Some are virtually untrained young Jihadists that often end up as suicide bombers or in "sacrifice squads". Most, however, are hard core terrorists from all the usual suspects (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas etc.) These are the guys running around murdering civilians en masse and cutting heads off. The Chechens (many of whom are Caucasian), are supposedly the most ruthless and the best fighters. (they have been fighting the Russians for years). In the Baghdad area and south, most of the insurgents are Iranian inspired (and led) Iraqi Shiites. The Iranian Shiia have been very adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local govt.'s, the police forces and the Army. The have had a massive spy and agitator network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80's. Most of the Saddam loyalists were killed, captured or gave up long ago."

11/09/2005

Some comments on recent op-eds

New Op-ed up on San Francisco Gun Ban

I have a new op-ed up at National Review Online: Now We’re Getting Somewhere: A silver lining in a gun ban.

11/08/2005

"How to demonize a judge in twelve steps"

New op-ed on Brazil Gun Vote

Fern Richardson and I have a new piece at National Review Online on the recent overwhelming vote in Brazil not to ban guns.

Craig Newmark has an interesting discussion about the Florida 2000 election

Will DC gun laws change?

Washington Post enters the fray again today:

[Congressman] Souder and his friends at the NRA prefer that people keep unlocked and loaded shotguns or rifles in their homes, so they added an amendment to the House version of the D.C. appropriations bill that prevents the city from enforcing its safe-storage requirements. The Senate didn't include such a reckless provision in its version of the bill. This week, a conference committee will meet to reconcile the bills' differences. If the Senate's conferees hold firm, the city will be spared the nightmare that is sure to come from loaded and unlocked guns falling into the hands of children.

That scary picture is borne out in a study published by the journal Pediatrics in September: "Approximately 90% of fatal firearm incidents involving children occur within the home, and according to a study of children and youth aged 0 to 14 years . . . 40% of firearm incidents involve a firearm stored in the room in which the shooting occurs."


Follow up: The CDC reports that for 2002 there were 26 accidental gun deaths for children under 10 and 60 for children under 15 in the US. My own work using the CDC numbers indicates that the vast majority of the children who died from accidental shots from 1995 to 2001 where killed by adult male criminals, who gun locks would not stop from firing their own guns.

Oil Executives ordered to appear before congress

I could only hope for one of these executives to give these politicians an economics lesson:

Top executives of three major oil companies will be asked by senators next week why some of their industry's estimated $96 billion in record profits this year shouldn't be used to help people having trouble paying their energy bills.


One wonders if these politicians know the damage that they do for future disasters because the very threat of these regulations and interventions reduce the expected profit companies will earn from fixing problems as they arise. The possibility of higher prices when disasters strike also gives oil companies an incentive to put aside more gas to cover those emergencies. Storing gas is costly, and if you want them to bear those costs, you had better compensate them. The irony is that letting the companies charge higher prices actually reduces customers total costs when you include such things as having to wait in long lines because there will be more gas available when the disaster strikes. The mere threat of price controls eliminates the possible profits oil companies can make in solving this problem and thus eliminates their incentive to store gasoline.

If you are interested, see this discussion.

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11/07/2005

The Useless Vote Tomorrow in SF on banning guns

"Gun classes offer options to domestic abuse victims"

Until Christmas Eve 1996, she had never contemplated carrying a gun.


Then her husband beat her.


The woman, of Salt Lake City, promptly got a divorce and a protective order - and a 9mm Glock pistol.


"I was always terrified of guns. But my fear of my ex-husband became far greater than my fear of guns. I saw what he was capable of," said the woman.


The Tribune is not identifying the woman because her ex-husband has not been charged with any crime.
She said protective orders alone are not enough to protect her and others like her. A piece of paper won't save them from an abuser hurtling toward them with a fist or a weapon.


So they're taking up arms. And Clark Aposhian, manager of Totally Awesome Guns and Range in Kearns, is helping them do it.


The certified firearms instructor offers a five-hour course on most Saturdays. It is required to receive a Utah concealed weapons permit. The class is $75 a person, but for women or men with a valid protective order, it's free. . . .

11/06/2005

A big wind up but not much of a delivery: Response to Op-ed on Alito Nomination

Todd Zywicki had a nice post on my recent op-ed discussing whether Alito is an extremist

Todd goes on to note that Franks Cross criticizes my piece:
Professor Frank Cross challenges Lott's interpretation of Choi and Gulati in the Comments:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this review by John Lott is quite misleading. Under Choi & Gulati's citation-based measure of judicial quality, Alito comes out very poorly, well down in the bottom half of all circuit court judges. That was their primary measure, and Lott doesn't mention it. Now, I've got a forthcoming paper that argues that this measure is an unreliable one and Alito suffers not for lack of quality but because it is a minimalist. But it's still misleading to cite a couple of categories where he does well but ignore their leading category, where he did quite poorly.

And independence in their study doesn't mean judicial independence, or anything like it. His high score here probably just means that 3rd Circuit Republicans are pretty liberal, as has been noted on this blog, so he is more likely to disagree with them and write a conservative opinion.


Personally though, after much back and forth between myself and Mr. Cross, Cross's discussion ends with more of a wimper than a bang:

. . . Perhaps I should give some context. I have the Choi &Gulati data and have analyzed it in various ways, as well as reading all the critics that I have found. I am famiiar the the findings and their validity. Because this is an area in which I research, I have fielded numerous inquiries about the Alito nomination. I have scrupulously avoided discussing the Choi &Gulati results because (a) I felt I could not do so honestly without addressing Alito's low quality rating in the process and (b) I think that rating is unfair to Alito for other reasons I have been researching. But I thought the full explanation was beyond what the press could reasonably offer in an article.

In short, I declined to make a post such as yours, because I believed it would be misleading to do so. This all happened before your post. Having made that conclusion for myself, I applied it to your post. Readers may draw their own conclusions.


My response is as follows:

. . . I haven't read your research, though I would be interested in doing so if you could email a copy (I would appreciate it). What I conclude from your last comments is that you were not taking issue with me inaccurately reporting what Choi and Gulati wrote, but your research has found that there were significant problems with their research and that without noting those problems it is wrong to cite the Choi and Gulati findings. Since I don't know your critique, I can't really comment on the last point other than to say I am very happy to look at your work.


I will look forward to reading his research when he sends it to me. I couldn't find it on SSRN. Possibly he has some strong critiques of Choi and Gulati, but despite the long discussion presented he never explicitly mentions what his objection is to Choi and Gulati's quality measures based upon citations and invocations (the later is when the name of a judge is mentioned in citing his opinion). I will reserve judgment until I have it to read, which hopefully will be very soon.

Are New York City Crime Numbers Being Falsely Reported?

It's been a year now since an extraordinary event occurred in local police annals: The heads of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the Sergeants Benevolent Association charged publicly that the police department had cooked the books on crime statistics. Maybe you missed the news about the outcry that followed—the hasty audits, the City Council investigations, the criminal probes, the corruption commission hearings. But if you've missed all that, it's not your fault: There hasn't been any outcry. No comptroller audits. No City Council investigation. Nothing to date from the city's Commission to Combat Police Corruption. . . .

The basic complaint is that police commanders have forced cops to turn crimes that once would have been reported as felony assaults and grand larcenies into lesser offenses. The goal, accordingly, is to drive down the number of offenses included in a closely watched "index" of seven major crimes. . . .

"So how do you fake a crime decrease? It's pretty simple. Don't file reports, misclassify crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, undervalue the property lost to crime so it's not a felony, and report a series of crimes as a single event. A particularly insidious way to fudge the numbers is to make it difficult or impossible for people to report crimes—in other words, make the victims feel like criminals so they walk away just to spare themselves further pain and suffering." . . .


Thanks very much to Jason Morin for sending this to me.

Wisconsin holds hearings on Right-to-carry law

Only four states ban people being able to carry concealed weapons. One vote made the difference last time where a previous sponsor changed his position under pressure from the governor, and a similarly close vote will likely take place this time.

Rep. Scott Gunderson, R-Waterford, the bill's other main author, choked up as he told the committees someone attacked him with a crowbar as he tried to open his store one day.

"Maybe he wouldn't have if he thought I was carrying a concealed weapon," Gunderson said. Zien, sitting next to him, patted him on the back.

Gunderson said 46 other states currently allow residents to carry concealed weapons. He said Wisconsin's bill is needed to comply with a 2003 state Supreme Court ruling, which found Wisconsin's 133-year-old ban on hidden weapons conflicts with a 1998 amendment to the state constitution guaranteeing the right to bear arms.

83 year old man defends himself, had been carrying a gun since a previous attack

Youngstown, Ohio, Tuesday, November 1
Walter Swita used a German Luger 9 mm pistol he brought home from World War II to shoot an intruder he suspects robbed him a few weeks ago.

The intruder, Benjamin Brooks, 44, of East Philadelphia Avenue, died Sunday at St. Elizabeth Health Center. Swita shot him in the head and chest around 10:30 p.m. Friday.

Brooks, whose record included robbery and breaking and entering, lived around the corner from Swita.. . .

The elderly man's 80-year-old two-story house is in the middle of a commercial district that features bars, eateries and other businesses. As a safety precaution, he's considering cutting back or removing a large bush that obscures his front porch.
"I think he's the one who attacked me about six weeks ago in the back yard," Swita said of Brooks. "He smashed me hard in the face and when I fell down he looked through my wallet and took $60."

Swita said he started carrying his German Luger after the attack, not sure whether the vintage pistol would even fire. He said he served in General George Patton's 3rd Army but didn't shoot at anyone. He repaired tanks and Jeeps. After the first robbery, Swita, who lives alone, began parking across the street when he returned home, not in his rear yard driveway. He'd hide the pistol against his leg until he was safe inside.

11/05/2005

People not protecting themselves is viewed as good news by gun control advocates

11/04/2005

New op-ed on Alito's nomination

11/03/2005

Few people having RTC permits revoked in Ohio

From April 2004 to September 2005, 63,597 standard licenses, and 119 temporary emergency licenses were issued to Ohio residents. On average, Ohio sheriffs are issuing approximately 118 concealed handgun licenses to law-abiding citizens per day.

Ohio CHL-holders have proven to be far more law-abiding than skeptics had predicted they would be. Only 94 CHLs (0.14%), have been revoked in the first eighteen months for any reason, including the passing away of some licenseholders. Just 272 CHLs (0.42%), were suspended for any reason, and many of those are often reinstated later. . . .


Note that since 94 includes those who have died and given that 70,098 have permits, it is quite possible that virtually all the revocations were for people who died.

There are some links to the newest data from Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro.

Talk Tomorrow

I will be giving a talk tomorrow at SUNY Binghamton. The talk is in the late afternoon in the economics department, and I will be talking about the abortion and crime paper that I have.

ABC-Washington Post Poll on Alito

Alito begins the confirmation process with the support of 49 percent of the public, while 30 percent currently say he should not be confirmed, the poll found. One in four Americans -- 24 percent -- did not yet know enough about him to make a judgment. . . .

The survey also suggests that the Alito nomination may quickly emerge as one of the most divisive partisan and ideological battles of the Bush presidency. Currently, 73 percent of all Republicans say he should be confirmed, compared to 33 percent of all Democrats. Six in 10 political conservatives support Alito, compared to slightly more than a third of all liberals and about half of all moderates. Still, many on both sides of the partisan and ideological divide say they have yet to make up their minds about Alito.

Early attempts by Alito's opponents to cast him as too conservative have yet to convince most Americans, the poll found. More than four in 10 -- 44 percent -- said his views appear "about right." Three in 10 said Alito was more conservative than they would have liked, while 8 percent said they would have preferred someone further to the right. . . .

Concealed handgun permit holder stops robbery

Talk Tomorrow

I will be giving a talk tomorrow at SUNY Binghamton. The talk is in the late afternoon in the economics department, and I will be talking about the abortion and crime paper that I have.

11/02/2005

Very depressing story: Blacks doing outrageous racial attacks against Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele

This is outrageous. You should read the entire story. The Democrat party of Maryland should have stopped this immediately.

Black Democratic leaders in Maryland say that racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in his bid for the U.S. Senate are fair because he is a conservative Republican.
Such attacks against the first black man to win a statewide election in Maryland include pelting him with Oreo cookies during a campaign appearance, calling him an "Uncle Tom" and depicting him as a black-faced minstrel on a liberal Web log.
Operatives for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) also obtained a copy of his credit report -- the only Republican candidate so targeted.
But black Democrats say there is nothing wrong with "pointing out the obvious."
"There is a difference between pointing out the obvious and calling someone names," said a campaign spokesman for Kweisi Mfume, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
State Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, a black Baltimore Democrat, said she does not expect her party to pull any punches, including racial jabs at Mr. Steele, in the race to replace retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.
"Party trumps race, especially on the national level," she said. "If you are bold enough to run, you have to take whatever the voters are going to give you. It's democracy, perhaps at its worse, but it is democracy."
Delegate Salima Siler Marriott, a black Baltimore Democrat, said Mr. Steele invites comparisons to a slave who loves his cruel master or a cookie that is black on the outside and white inside because his conservative political philosophy is, in her view, anti-black.
"Because he is a conservative, he is different than most public blacks, and he is different than most people in our community," she said. "His politics are not in the best interest of the masses of black people."
During the 2002 campaign, Democratic supporters pelted Mr. Steele with Oreo cookies during a gubernatorial debate at Morgan State University in Baltimore.
In 2001, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. called Mr. Steele an "Uncle Tom," when Mr. Steele headed the state Republican Party. Mr. Miller, Prince George's County Democrat, later apologized for the remark.
"That's not racial. If they call him the "N' word, that's racial," Mrs. Marriott said. "Just because he's black, everything bad you say about him isn't racial." . . .

"Mandatory Waiting Periods for Abortions and Female Mental Health"

My friend Jonathan Klick has a new research paper finding the following:

Proponents of laws requiring a waiting period before a woman can receive an abortion argue that these cooling off periods protect against rash decisions on the part of women in the event of unplanned pregnancies. Opponents claim, at best, waiting periods have no effect on decision-making and, at worst, they subject women to additional mental anguish and stress. In this article, I examine these competing claims using adult female suicide rates at the state level as a proxy for mental health. Panel data analyses suggest that the adoption of mandatory waiting periods reduce suicide rates by about 10 percent, and this effect is statistically significant. The result is robust to various attempts to control for unobservable heterogeneity and simultaneity.


Clayton Cramer also has a discussion of this.

11/01/2005

Possible reasons for Alito's nomination over Luttig

I think that there are a couple possible reasons that Alito got the nod over Luttig.

1) It may seem trivial (especially given how conservative Luttig is), but the fact that Alito has the nickname "Scalito" just makes it appear that much clearer to everyone that Bush was honoring his pledge to appoint someone like Scalia.
2) Arlen Specter has known Alito "for two decades, ever since Mr. Alito was appointed to become U.S. Attorney in neighboring New Jersey. Mr. Specter privately told the White House that he thought he could be confirmed. Yesterday, he went out of his way to paint Judge Alito as a reasonable nominee who could win support from moderates in a news conference with reporters." (John Fund, OpinionJournals Political Diary)

The Hill: "Dems hint at filibuster"

Senate Democrats appeared to lay the groundwork yesterday for a possible filibuster of Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court, setting the stage for an intense partisan showdown that could culminate with the so-called “nuclear option.”

“Nothing is on the table, and nothing is off the table,” Senate Judiciary Committee member Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said within hours of President Bush’s announcement that he had picked Alito to replace Harriet Miers. Miers’s nomination to the high court was withdrawn last week amid heavy criticism from conservative Republicans who feared she would not be sufficiently loyal to their orthodoxy.

Though Democrats carefully avoided using the term “filibuster” yesterday, many of them criticized Bush for picking Alito, a conservative stalwart.

“I am concerned that the nomination may be a needlessly provocative nomination,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “Instead of uniting the country, the president chose to reward one faction of his party.” . . .