5/30/2006

More info on Hillary's Decision to Run for Presidency

There are so many conflicting polls on Hillary Clinton's presidential run that I am not completely sure what to make of things. John Fund has an interesting note, even if it is informal, on her decision to run for the presidency.

"There is no sentimentality for the Clintons on this issue," one party adviser says. "This is a cold political decision, because the party can't afford to lose a third straight presidential election." Jonathan Alter, a columnist for Newsweek, agrees. He says he took an informal survey of women voters who admire Hillary Clinton. He put the question to them about what they would do if in early 2008, Mrs. Clinton "is 12-to-15 points behind John McCain and that [former Virginia governor] Mark Warner or somebody else is 4-to-6 points behind John McCain. Who do you vote for? And every single one I've talked to have said that they would go for Warner or the candidate with the best chance."

We've come a long way from 1992, when almost every reporter covering the Clinton campaign knew the candidate's habits and weaknesses and chose not to report them. As the 2008 campaign approaches, the New York Times story is a signal by the mainstream media that that any foibles are likely to be addressed sooner rather later.

5/29/2006

Harry Reid in More Ethics Problems

Will this get even a fraction of the attention that the charges against Republicans get? I doubt that it will last very long. This is from the AP via USA Today's website.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid accepted free ringside tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to three professional boxing matches while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing. . . .

He defended the gifts, saying they would never influence his position on the bill and was simply trying to learn how his legislation might affect an important home state industry. "Anyone from Nevada would say I'm glad he is there taking care of the state's No. 1 businesses," he told The Associated Press. . . .

Senate ethics rules generally allow lawmakers to accept gifts from federal, state or local governments, but specifically warn against taking such gifts — particularly on multiple occasions — when they might be connected to efforts to influence official actions.

"Senators and Senate staff should be wary of accepting any gift where it appears that the gift is motivated by a desire to reward, influence, or elicit favorable official action," the Senate ethics manual states. It cites the 1990s example of an Oregon lawmaker who took gifts for personal use from a South Carolina state university and its president while that school was trying to influence his official actions.

"Repeatedly taking gifts which the Gifts Rule otherwise permits to be accepted may, nonetheless, reflect discredit upon the institution, and should be avoided," the manual states.

Several ethics experts said Reid should have paid for the tickets, which were close to the ring and worth between several hundred and several thousand dollars each, to avoid the appearance he was being influenced by gifts.

Two senators who joined Reid for fights with the complimentary tickets took markedly differently steps.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., insisted on paying $1,400 for the tickets he shared with Reid for a 2004 championship fight. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., accepted free tickets to another fight with Reid but already had recused himself from Reid's federal boxing legislation because his father was an executive for a Las Vegas hotel that hosts fights.

In an interview Thursday in his Capitol office, Reid broadly defended his decisions to accept the tickets and to take several actions benefiting disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's clients and partners as they donated to him. . . . .

Canada: "Shadows of the Sponsorship program hang over the gun registry"

The Canadian Taxpayer Federation is now see shades of the Adscam Sponsorship scandal in the gun registry program:

Shadows of the Sponsorship program hang over the gun registry. Some might scoff at this declaration or the need to find answers. But until it is explained how a program budgeted to cost $117-million somehow exceeded $1-billion, the burden of proof rests on the shoulders of officials responsible for ensuring the proper stewardship of tax dollars.

Taxpayers are seeking answers on the awarding of contracts to consultants. Paragraph 4.82 of the auditor’s most recent report concludes “the [Canada Firearms] Centre misused contracting tools to retain the services of information technology contractors.” And paragraph 4.83 reveals the government system used to award contracts was rigged and “made directed contracts appear to have been awarded competitively.” In addition “the end result [of contracting tools] was a non-competitive process and did not meet the objectives of the Treasury Board Contracting Policy.”

The audit also found “on average the cost to the Centre for each consultant increased by about 25% under this supply arrangement.” Costs skyrocketed as excessive – and needless – commissions were paid to well-connected consultants. This has both the look and feel of another Sponsorship-style kickback scheme.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has decided to investigate who is responsible for hiding from Parliament the rising costs of the registry. Yet the committee chair has already conceded it will not be possible to remove “politics” from the examination. A wider investigation is necessary. Given what Ms. Fraser has told Canadians about the operations of the federal firearms registry, there is ample reason for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to establish an independent inquiry into this program. He should do so without delay.

5/28/2006

"Knife amnesty held across the UK"

Felons have legitimate benefit from owning guns

There is a lot of pressure to let felons vote after they have been released from prison. Despite all the sanctions imposed on felons (lost jobs, lost professional licenses, lost retirement and other benefits, etc.), the inability to vote is considered the most important sanction by many. Jobs and hte inability to defend oneself also seem important to me, here is one example of self defense:

The Issaquah man who claims he shot a black bear in self-defense near his home Monday night is now under investigation by the Department of Fish and Wildlife for being a felon in possession of a firearm and for hunting a bear out of season.

King County Sheriff's deputies, officers with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms served a search warrant Wednesday at Aaron Enright's home in the rural High Point neighborhood near Issaquah.

They seized the 10-gauge shotgun he used to shoot the bear, a .22-caliber rifle and .22-caliber ammunition. The search warrant indicates they are seeking evidence that would support a charge of "Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the First Degree" and "Unlawful Hunt Big Game 2nd Degree: Closed Bear Season."

"It's complete insanity," Enright told us Thursday night.

Enright says that on Monday he thought his black labrador retriever was at his back door so he opened the door to let it in. Instead he stood face to face with a black bear.

He says he backed away from the door and reached for his shotgun, that the bear backed up about 10 feet from the door, then made a move as if it was going to charge at him.

"I'm tracking it and then it turns and I shoot it," said Enright, showing us where he says he stood in his own kitchen when he fired the single shot through the open door. "It turned left and took one step and I shot it." . . .

5/27/2006

Prison is just one part of the penalty that Enron's Lay and Skilling face

5/26/2006

ABC hirers former Brady Campaign Staffer to Handle Gun Control Stories

I heard tonight that ABC News has decided that a former Brady Campaign staffer, Jake Tapper, will handle gun control issues. Is this serious?

An example of his writings on guns from the very liberal Salon.com can be found here. Another example of his partisian writings on guns can be found here. (On this last point, note that Bush pushed for a mandatory gun lock law while governor and the right-to-carry law that he signed, while I am glad that he signed it, was one of the most restrictive in the country.) Tapper refers to the extremely misleading quote by Kayne Robinson that ""If we win, we'll have a president ... where we work out of their office." The problem with this quote in reference to Bush was that Robinson was talking about the Republican field generally, not Bush.

You can provide comments to ABC News by following this link.

UPDATE:
It looks like ABC News has no problem at all with the appearance of bias, now that they've assigned a reporter who used to work for Handgun Control, Inc. to cover firearms-related stories, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) said today.

Washington correspondent Jake Tapper once worked for Handgun Control, according to a piece he wrote when he worked for Salon News. His obvious bias greatly alarms SAF founder Alan M. Gottlieb.

"This is the same ABC News that rushed to the air this week to report that Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert is under investigation by the Justice Department, when the Justice Department said he wasn't," Gottlieb noted. "This is the same news network that added George Stephanopoulos, a former top aide to anti-gun President Bill Clinton. Now they've got a former staffer for an extremist gun control group reporting on firearms issues.

"It is no wonder why so many American citizens believe there is an institutional bias in the national press," Gottlieb continued. "MSNBC's Chris Matthews once worked for anti-gun Congressman Tip O'Neill and wrote speeches for Jimmy Carter. NBC's Tim Russert was chief of staff for anti-gun Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and was a counselor for Mario Cuomo, an avowed gun prohibitionist. Does anyone see a pattern here?"

SAF urges gun owners to express their disappointment to ABC News by e-mail at: support@abcnews.go.com , or via mail to ABC News, 7 West 66th Street, New York, NY 10023.

"Tapper has an established anti-gun bias, and for a network that claims objectivity, having him report on gun-related stories is insulting," Gottlieb said. "What if he is assigned to cover this summer's conference on global gun control being held at the United Nations? I'm going to be there. Can I expect him to approach this subject with an open mind? His history with Handgun Control, and his writings in Salon tell me his mind is made up.

"Why is it that ABC does not include Tapper's affiliation with a gun control organization in his biographical information," Gottlieb wondered. "Is this to shield the network's bias against guns?


I wwas wondering about this last point myself. To me, leaving out this information is pprobably the most serious problem.

Well, I suppose that it was obvious

5/25/2006

Blackwell quickly closing the gap in Ohio Gubernatorial race

Hotline reports that "Dems Thinking, 'OH No'?: Latest OH GOV poll has Strickland up just 6 and Blackwell nabbing 1/3 of blacks."

5/24/2006

Beware of Rampaging Deer

"Proof Of Al-Qaida's Links To Iraq Just Too Strong To Be Dismissed"

Richard Miniter has a nice piece in today's Investors' Business Daily. Here is part of the piece, but there is a lot more evidence if you follow the link.

. . . Rather than trumpet this new evidence, the Administration and the military seem to regard it as historical. They are more focused on today's decisions than justifying yesterday's. So the growing impression, especially among the press, is that there simply was no link between Iraq and al-Qaida. If so, they would have told us, goes the argument. . . .

These sources reveal three kinds of undisputed connections between Iraq and al-Qaida: meetings, money, and training.

MEETINGS

• Photographs taken by Malaysian intelligence in January 2000 place Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, an Iraqi intelligence operative, meeting with the Sept. 11 hijackers.

• Captured Iraqi intelligence documents show that bin Laden met with Iraqi intelligence officials in Syria in 1992.

• Sudanese intelligence officials told me that their agents had observed meetings between Iraqi intelligence agents and bin Laden starting in 1994, when bin Laden lived in Khartoum.

• Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit and a critic of the Bush administration, writes in "Through Our Enemies' Eyes" that bin Laden "made a connection with Iraq's intelligence service through its Khartoum station."

• Bin Laden met at least eight times with officers of Iraq's Special Security Organization, a secret police agency run by Saddam's son Qusay, according to intelligence made public by Secretary of State Colin Powell, at the United Nations on Feb. 6, 2003.

• Bin Laden met the director of the Iraqi mukhabarat, Iraq's external intelligence service, in Khartoum in 1996.

• An al-Qaida operative now held by the United States confessed that in the mid-1990s, bin Laden agreed to cease all terrorist activities against the Iraqi dictator, Powell said.

• Patrick Fitzgerald, a U.S. attorney in the Clinton Justice Department, noted in the bin Laden indictment: "Al-Qaida reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al-Qaida would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al-Qaida would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq."

• In 2000, Saudi Arabia went on nation-wide alert when its intelligence learned that Iraq was working with al-Qaida to attack U.S. interests there.

• Weekly Standard writer Stephen Hayes cites captured Iraqi documents: "In 1998, according to documents unearthed in Iraq's intelligence headquarters in April 2003, al-Qaida sent a 'trusted confidant' to Baghdad for sixteen days of meetings beginning March 5. Iraqi intelligence paid for his stay in Room 414 of the Mansur al-Melia hotel and expressed hope that the envoy would serve as the liaison between Iraqi intelligence and bin Laden. The DIA \[the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency\] has assessed those documents as authentic."

• ABC News's Nightline interviewed a "twenty-year veteran of Iraqi intelligence," identified him by his nom de guerre, Abu Aman Amaleeki, who said: "In 1992, elements of al-Qaida came to Baghdad and met with Saddam Hussein. And among them was Ayman al-Zawahiri. I was present when Ayman al-Zawahiri visited Baghdad." Zawahiri is al-Qaida's no. 2.

• Another visit by al-Zawahiri, in 1999, was confirmed by former Iraqi premier Iyad Allawi.

• Allawi also said that al-Zawahiri was invited to attend the ninth Popular Islamic Conference by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Saddam's own no. 2. The Iraqi government, he said, has the invitation and other records. . . . . [the piece is much longer and contains much more information]

15-year-old shots intruder who broke into family's home

People should read the entire story.

Maxine Chandler thought she would faint in the wee hours of Saturday when she heard a knock at her door and opened it, only to have a man lunge toward her.

She slammed the door shut and watched the 6-foot-tall man banging a bicycle against the front of her house -- repeatedly hitting the window and the door.

Chandler's screaming and crying roused her 15-year-old son, Javaris Granger, who came to see what was wrong.

Javaris went to his mother's bedroom and loaded the two handguns his father keeps for protection in the home in the 700 block of South 61st Avenue. The family also called 911.

The man -- later identified by police as Keil Jumper -- kicked the door off its hinges and barged into the home about 3:30 a.m. Jumper, 22, lives on the Seminoles' reservation near Hollywood.

Javaris, who is 5-foot-6 and weighs about 125 pounds, took cover behind a wall, armed with a gun in each hand. One of the guns was a .38 caliber, but family members said Tuesday night they were unsure about the other gun.

''He was going crazy,'' Javaris said. ``I shot one time to let him know he had to leave. The dude didn't leave. He was looking at my eyes, trying to get closer.''

The gun in Javaris' right hand jammed, and he fired with the gun in his left, sending Jumper running from the single-story home. Javaris thought his shots missed the man, simply scaring him off. . . . .

Competitive Enterprise Institute Dinner

I enjoyed going to the Competitive Enterprise Institute dinner tonight. P. J. O'Rourke's talk was very entertaining. Here are a couple of interesting statements that he made:

P.J. noted how his seven year old daughter complained that life wasn't fair. P.J. turned to her and said: you are cute, that isn't fair. Your family is well to do, that isn't fair. You are born in the United States, that isn't fair. You better pray that life doesn't become fair.

*While P.J.'s comments are funnier than what I would say and his daugther might remember them longer, I suppose that I would explain that fairness is that her family and country get to keep what is theirs, that they took the time and effort to produce. Ensuring equality of outcomes is not the same thing as ensuring equality of opportunity.

P.J. also said: Someone mentions corporate corruption and you think of Enron. I think of Elliot Spitzer.

*May be you had to be there for this last one.

5/23/2006

Will William Jefferson's case get as much news coverage as Duke Cunningham's case?

Today at Political Diary, John Fund writes:

Duke Cunningham move aside. The prize for most outrageous abuse of Congressional office may have to be transferred from the disgraced former California solon to Rep. William Jefferson, in whose freezer the FBI is said to have discovered $90,000 in bribe money wrapped in aluminum foil.

Prosecution documents allege that Mr. Jefferson, who represents parts of New Orleans that are as badly flooded as his career path is currently, took the cash from a businesswoman who wore an FBI wire as she sought to buy his influence. The court papers say Mr. Jefferson was going to use the cash to bribe African politicians to give her a contract for her phone and Internet company.

After discovering the cash during a raid on Mr. Jefferson's house, the FBI conducted a follow-up search of his Capitol Hill office, the first time in history that such an indignity has been inflicted on a sitting lawmaker. ABC News reports that the raid only occurred after lawyers for the House of Representatives refused to turn over the material the FBI sought. "Left with no other method, the government is proceeding in this fashion" by requesting a search warrant, wrote FBI agent Timothy Thibault last week in a court filing. A federal judge promptly issued a warrant directing Capitol Hill police "to provide immediate access" to Mr. Jefferson's office. And the FBI team that went in last Saturday night included specialists assigned to separate files related to Mr. Jefferson's alleged crimes from "any potentially politically sensitive" items, a search of which might raise the ire of House lawyers.

I can understand the concerns about separation of powers that House lawyers might believe were raised by an executive agency searching a Congressional office. But blocking access to relevant documents requested by the FBI has the appearance of favoritism towards members of Congress. As for the political files in Mr. Jefferson's office, I doubt that he will be needing them in the near future.

Mr. Jefferson emerged yesterday to call the search of his office "outrageous" and to say he will continue to run for re-election. But even staffers in his office are said to be shopping their resumes to other members in anticipation that there will soon be a vacancy in the seat.

One solution to the alligator attacks in Florida

Some facts to keep in mind when you talk to friends who see Al Gore's new movie

Pete DuPont has a useful piece in today's Opinion Journal:

When it comes to visible environmental improvements, America is also making substantial progress:

• The number of days the city of Los Angeles exceeded the one-hour ozone standard has declined from just under 200 a year in the late 1970s to 27 in 2004.

• The Pacific Research Institute's Index of Leading Environmental Indicators shows that "U.S. forests expanded by 9.5 million acres between 1990 and 2000."

• While wetlands were declining at the rate of 500,000 acres a year at midcentury, they "have shown a net gain of about 26,000 acres per year in the past five years," according to the institute.

• Also according to the institute, "bald eagles, down to fewer than 500 nesting pairs in 1965, are now estimated to number more than 7,500 nesting pairs."

Environmentally speaking, America has had a very good third of a century; the economy has grown and pollutants and their impacts upon society are substantially down.

But now comes the carbon dioxide alarm. CO2 is not a pollutant--indeed it is vital for plant growth--but the annual amount released into the atmosphere has increased 40% since 1970. This increase is blamed by global warming alarmists for a great many evil things. The Web site for Al Gore's new film, "An Inconvenient Truth," claims that because of CO2's impact on our atmosphere, sea levels may rise by 20 feet, the Arctic and Antarctic ice will likely melt, heat waves will be "more frequent and more intense," and "deaths from global warming will double in just 25 years--to 300,000 people a year." . . . .

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5/22/2006

Iraq: Some very interesting measures of how well things are going

As an economist, these measures of well-being are quite attractive because they rely on people "voting with their feet," what economists would call revealed preferences. From an article in Commentary magazine by Amir Taheri (the whole article is worth reading):

. . . Since my first encounter with Iraq almost 40 years ago, I have relied on several broad measures of social and economic health to assess the countrys condition. Through good times and bad, these signs have proved remarkably accurateas accurate, that is, as is possible in human affairs. For some time now, all have been pointing in an unequivocally positive direction.

The first sign is refugees. When things have been truly desperate in Iraqin 1959, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1980, 1988, and 1990long queues of Iraqis have formed at the Turkish and Iranian frontiers, hoping to escape. In 1973, for example, when Saddam Hussein decided to expel all those whose ancestors had not been Ottoman citizens before Iraqs creation as a state, some 1.2 million Iraqis left their homes in the space of just six weeks. This was not the temporary exile of a small group of middle-class professionals and intellectuals, which is a common enough phenomenon in most Arab countries. Rather, it was a departure en masse, affecting people both in small villages and in big cities, and it was a scene regularly repeated under Saddam Hussein.

Since the toppling of Saddam in 2003, this is one highly damaging image we have not seen on our television setsand we can be sure that we would be seeing it if it were there to be shown. To the contrary, Iraqis, far from fleeing, have been returning home. By the end of 2005, in the most conservative estimate, the number of returnees topped the 1.2-million mark. Many of the camps set up for fleeing Iraqis in Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia since 1959 have now closed down. The oldest such center, at Ashrafiayh in southwest Iran, was formally shut when its last Iraqi guests returned home in 2004.

A second dependable sign likewise concerns human movement, but of a different kind. This is the flow of religious pilgrims to the Shiite shrines in Karbala and Najaf. Whenever things start to go badly in Iraq, this stream is reduced to a trickle and then it dries up completely. From 1991 (when Saddam Hussein massacred Shiites involved in a revolt against him) to 2003, there were scarcely any pilgrims to these cities. Since Saddams fall, they have been flooded with visitors. In 2005, the holy sites received an estimated 12 million pilgrims, making them the most visited spots in the entire Muslim world, ahead of both Mecca and Medina.

Over 3,000 Iraqi clerics have also returned from exile, and Shiite seminaries, which just a few years ago held no more than a few dozen pupils, now boast over 15,000 from 40 different countries. . . .

A third sign, . . . is the value of the Iraqi dinar, especially as compared with the regions other major currencies. In the final years of Saddam Husseins rule, the Iraqi dinar was in free fall; after 1995, it was no longer even traded in Iran and Kuwait. By contrast, the new dinar, introduced early in 2004, is doing well against both the Kuwaiti dinar and the Iranian rial . . . .

My fourth time-tested sign is . . . whenever things have gone downhill in Iraq, large numbers of such enterprises have simply closed down, with the countrys most capable entrepreneurs decamping to Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf states, Turkey, Iran, and even Europe and North America. Since liberation, however, Iraq has witnessed a private-sector boom, especially among small and medium-sized businesses. . . .


UPDATE: A reader named Guav alerts me to the fact that Amir Taheri was apparently the same person who has recently made some mistakes reporting on Iran.

A news story and column by Iranian-born analyst Amir Taheri in yesterday’s National Post reported that the Iranian parliament had passed a sweeping new law this week outlining proper dress for Iran’s majority Muslims, including an order for Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians to wear special strips of cloth.

The FTC's bizarre definition of price gouging

Before we look at the FTC's conclusion on price gouging, let's look at how when it was defined as occurring:

For the purpose of the report, and as mandated by Congress, the FTC defined price gouging as "any finding" that the average price of gasoline in designated disaster areas in September 2005 was higher than in August 2005.


A Republican congress approved this? We know that prices went up so the conclusion was already predetermined. Based upon that definition, this is what they found:

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday said it found 15 examples of gasoline price gouging after Hurricane Katrina, though the agency said it has not identified any widespread effort by the oil industry to illegally manipulate the marketplace.


Here is one question. If it is price gouging whenever the average price rises, what do you call it whenever the average price falls? Uncontrolable altruism by companies? Is the ideal market one where the price never moves? If you are interested, you can see how much the price of gasoline goes up and down over time. Boy, there must be a lot of market power.

UPDATE: Fox News that I cited above may have blown this story. Here is what I just read in the WSJ.
"The FTC defined gouging as a gas price in September 2005 that was higher than the previous month for reasons other than higher cost or market trend." (Emphasis added.)

However, I will say that I don't understand this market trend argument and I don't know why demand changes aren't included, especially since different blends of gas can make it hard to move gas from lower to higher valued areas.

Senator Barack Obama makes life difficult for Mexican Guest Workers in US

How can Democrats explain that they are on the same side as the Mexicans coming to the US? Isn't it clear to everyone that this provision does more to protect union workers than it does to help guest workers to make a living.

an amendment by Senator Barack Obama, approved by voice vote, extended Davis-Bacon wages rates to all private work performed by guest workers, even if their occupations are not covered by Davis-Bacon.

5/21/2006

Americans support National Guard at Border

A couple of interesting points on some Ethanol

This discussion could be titled: Why Ethanol makes us poorer.

Are there any problems with ethanol?
Oh, yes. Ethanol can't travel in pipelines along with gasoline, because it picks up excess water and impurities. As a result, ethanol needs to be transported by trucks, trains, or barges, which is more expensive and complicated than sending it down a pipeline. As refiners switched to ethanol this spring, the change in transport needs has likely contributed to the rise in gas prices. Some experts argue that the U. S. doesn't have adequate infrastructure for wide ethanol use.

Also, ethanol contains less energy than gas. That means drivers have to make more frequent trips to the pump.

Doesn't producing ethanol on a large scale use a great deal of energy?
Yes. Some ethanol skeptics have even argued that the process involved in growing grain and then transforming it into ethanol requires more energy from fossil fuels than ethanol generates. In other words, they say the whole movement is a farce.

There's no absolute consensus in the scientific community, but that argument is losing strength. Michael Wang, a scientist at the Energy Dept.-funded Argonne National Laboratory for Transportation Research, says "The energy used for each unit of ethanol produced has been reduced by about half [since 1980]." Now, Wang says, the delivery of 1 million British thermal units (BTUs) of ethanol uses 0.74 million BTUs of fossil fuels. (That does not include the solar energy -- the sun shining -- used in growing corn.) By contrast, he finds that the delivery of 1 million BTUs of gasoline requires 1.23 million BTU of fossil fuels.

Producing ethanol could get more efficient soon as new technologies help farmers get more corn per acre of land and allow ethanol producers to get more of the fuel from the same amount of corn. The companies developing new corn technologies include chemical giant Dupont (DD ) and Monsanto (MON ), which sells genetically modified seeds as well as chemicals for protecting crops. . . .

Is ethanol cheaper than gas?
Surprise, surprise, it isn't. The move this spring by more regions to use ethanol means that demand has spiked, driving up prices. On Monday, the New York harbor price was around $3 per gallon compared with about $2.28 for gasoline (before being mixed with ethanol). In other words, for now ethanol is helping to increase prices at the pump, not to push them down.



This piece has its problems, but it still raises a couple of useful points.

On Bonds breaking the Babe's record

I confess I am less than trilled by Barry Bonds tying Babe Ruth's home run record I may have written op-eds with Sonya defending the right of baseball to make its own decisions on steroid use independent of any government intervention, but it is still quite sad about him breaking the Babe's record. On the one hand, it is nice to seem human beings accomplish more and more difficult tasks. On the other hand, there is something different in my mind to the Babe drinking too many beers and eating too many hot dogs and still completely dominating the sport in the way no one has done so since (e.g., home runs as a percentage of home runs hit by everyone else in the league at that time). As opposed to someone (such as Bonds) breaking the Babe's numerical record, but not doing so in any where near the way that he dominated things and getting the benefit of later scientific advances.

Gore's entourage takes five cars a few blocks at Cannes

I was just listening to the news on the radio (WABC), and they were saying that Gore apparently woulld have saved time if he had simply walked the few blocks from his hotel to where his film was showing at Cannes. The funny thing to me wasn't that he would have saved time, but that his film is about global warming and here he is taking cars a very short distance when the cars take longer than simply walking. My question is: why Gore was only kidded for taking the slowest way to get to the showing? Why not kid him on the global warming issue?

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5/20/2006

Politics Czech style.

Politics Czech style: some entertaining pictures of politicians in action. If government was smaller and there was less at stake, my guess is that fewer of these types of events would occur.

So how is Tony Snow doing?

Not only does Tony Snow seem to be doing a good job, but he seems to be making a strong fashion statement. The discussion is at the end of the segment.

More

Tony Snow in an exclusive interview on how his job is going.

Obviously, I like Tony a lot. He is someone who I have gotten to know personally, and he is one of the most innately nice people you could ever meet. It is nice to see him getting such a continued nice reaction in his new post.

People generally like their own congressman

If the Supreme Court thinks that we should follow foreign law on things such as the death penalty, what about this?

Apparently, the Iranian Supreme Court still needs to approve the law passed by the Iranian parliment, but if you get a few countries pass this, should we follow suit? After all, we don't want to make certain types of people feel harmed by having to accidentally touch other "unclean" people. I assume that this decision could be based upon international understandings of human rights.

Israel has reacted strongly to a news report that Iran has passed a new law that mandates non-Muslims to wear disctinct colour bands to identify them in public saying that it resembled Nazi era policy against Jews.

The purpose of the law as per a report in the 'Canadian National Post' is to prevent Muslims from becoming "unclean" by accidentally shaking the hands of non-Muslims in public.

Citing human rights groups the newspaper yesterday reported that the Iranian Parliament had passed a new dress code for religious minorities this week and was awaiting the final approval from its supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

According to the new law, the Jews will have to wear a yellow band on their exterior in public, while Christians will be required to don red ones, the newspaper claimed. . . .


More

Prime Minister John Howard was among three world leaders who today said an Iranian bill, which reportedly would force non-Muslims to wear coloured badges in public, was akin to Nazi Germany. . . .

Ohio Legislation Would Pre-empt Local Gun Laws

A potential change to Ohio's concealed-carry law is raising concerns for the mayor of Columbus.

When it became possible for Ohioans to carry a concealed weapon with a permit, Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman made a move to keep the weapons out of city parks. Some new changes being considered at the statehouse would call for statewide gun laws only, and no city gun laws. "I think the citizens have a lot to be worried about," Coleman said.

Coleman said he believes that city leaders should be able to make decisions about how firearms can be used within their city boundaries.

"We need to have the ability and use . . . the ability to protect our citizens, and have the ability to do so. And the state legislature's taking that ability and that right away from cities," Coleman said.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Jim Aslanides of Coshocton, said that if gun laws are made only at the state level, gun owners will be better able to be aware of them and comply. . . .


Possibly Columbus should try having its own traffic laws. Possibly all the counties and cities in Ohio should have their own traffic laws. After all, traffic laws affect people's safety.

5/19/2006

The New Adscam, tracing the money in the Canadian Gun Registry Program

We also found specific cases in our sample of 147 contracts that did not follow good contracting practices. Her report went on to provide samples of these contracts and concluded: Several fixed-price contracts were awarded to three contractors in 2001 and 2002 that, in some cases, had no measurable deliverable, and no record of a deliverable product being received. The initial value of each contract was below the $25,000 limit, but the final values were much higher: $50,000, $107,000, and $319,431. We noted that requests for the contractors' security clearance stated that they would have no access to the work site. In these cases, the Centre was the contracting authority. We will be reviewing these contracts in greater detail.


Canadian Member of Parliment Garry Breitkreuz asks: "Mrs. Fraser’s report tells us that contracts were awarded through a non-competitive process, lacked due regard to economy, added two additional commissions and increased costs by an average of 25 percent. Commissions for what? How much was paid in commissions? Who got paid and where did the money end up? This is exactly what happened in Adscam.”

Weird Conspiracy Theories Revealed: The Da Vinci Code has finally opened up one writer's eyes to what is really happening around us

DANIEL HENNINGEN has a pretty funny discussion of the Da Vinci Code movie in today's WSJ. This is from the end of his piece:

Here's my theory of "The Da Vinci Code." Dan Brown was sitting one night at the monthly meeting of his local secret society, listening to a lecture on the 65th gospel, and he got to thinking: "I wonder if there's any limit to what people are willing to believe these days about a conspiracy theory. Let's say I wrote a book that said Jesus was married. To Mary Magdalene. Who was pregnant at the Crucifixion. And she is the Holy Grail. Jesus wanted her to run the church as a global sex society called Heiros Gamos, but Peter elbowed her out of the job. Her daughter was the beginning of the Merovingian dynasty of France. Jesus' family is still alive. There were 80 gospels, not four. Leonardo DiCaprio, I mean da Vinci, knew all this. The 'Mona Lisa' is Leonardo's painting of himself in drag. Da Vinci's secret was kept alive by future members of 'the brotherhood,' including Isaac Newton, Claude Debussy and Victor Hugo. The Catholic Church is covering all this up."

Then Dan Brown said softly, "Would anyone buy into a plot so preposterous and fantastic?" Then he started writing.

The real accomplishment of "The Da Vinci Code" is that Dan Brown has proven that the theory of conspiracy theories is totally elastic, it has no limits. The genre's future is limitless, with the following obvious plots:

Bill Clinton is directly descended from Henry VIII; Hillary is his third cousin. Jack Ruby was Ronald Reagan's half-brother. Dick Cheney has been dead for five years; the vice president is a clone created by Halliburton in 1998. The Laffer Curve is the secret sign of the Carlyle Group. Michael Moore is the founder of the Carlyle Group, which started World War I. The New York Times is secretly run by the Rosicrucians (this is revealed on the first page of Chapter 47 of "The Da Vinci Code" if you look at the 23rd line through a kaleidoscope). Jacques Chirac is descended from Judas.

None of this strikes me as the least bit implausible, especially the latter. I'd better get started.

"Chicago took 1st shot: '98 gun sting like [Bloomberg], but misfired in courtroom"

Mayor Bloomberg isn't the first big-city boss to pull a sting operation on gun dealers.
In a 1998 probe dubbed Operation Gunsmoke, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley had undercover cops posing as gang members go into area gun stores.

Grainy video shot by investigators seemed to show gun merchants gladly allowing straw purchases - the practice of legally authorized citizens buying guns for others.

The sting was a public relations success, with footage shown on "60 Minutes" and elsewhere. But the operation had less success in court, where it was used in a civil case and several criminal prosecutions.

"It failed because they were unable to show the dealers willfully did anything wrong," said John Lott, a former University of Chicago law professor and the author of controversial books "More Guns, Less Crime" and "The Bias Against Guns." . . .


There was one conviction, but that was a plea bargain where the company agreed to go out of business but they were going out of business anyway and they agreed to this just to save legal costs.

5/18/2006

Canadians favor scrapping gun registry

Candy Frey: Cops can differentiate defensive gun use from hunting

A Florida woman shoots a gator who was attacking her dog gets citation for hunting without a license. The woman is a former Marine, someone who obviously knows how to use a gun. Can't the state officials differentiate defensive gun use from hunting? The link at Fox News can be found here. You would think that the cops would have heard about the three women who have been killed by alligators over the last week.

Another dog wasn't so lucky.
Dog In Royal Palm Beach Killed By Alligator

Authorities say a six-foot alligator killed a Yorkie-Maltese mix in Royal Palm Beach.

Michael Rochefort said his dog ran outside his interior design shop Tuesday and straight to a nearby retention pond.

The gator quickly grabbed the dog, Malibu, and swam away. Trappers captured the alligator they believe killed the dog.

They plan to trap two other gators seen in the pond.

Alan Gottlieb on Bloomberg's New Lawsuit Against Guns

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's lawsuit against 15 alleged "rogue" firearms dealers in five states is political grandstanding run amok.

The press and prosecutors in those five states ought to be asking Bloomberg why, if his investigators had positively identified these retailers and caught them in an illegal act, was the information not turned over to the proper authorities, including the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives?

Instead, the headline-hunting Bloomberg launched a civil lawsuit in what should be, if he is to be believed, a criminal action.

There's a reason for that. The private investigators New York hired to conduct this sting must have made deliberately false statements on federal firearms purchase forms. That's a felony. They should be prosecuted. If Bloomberg sent them to do this, he's an accessory, if not a conspirator.

Given Bloomberg's anti-gun history, and that of New York's previous unsuccessful efforts to sue firearms manufacturers, he is turning his attention to retailers. Yet, his ultimate goal remains the same, and it has nothing to do with stopping criminals.

His intent, and that of his cheerleaders, is to demonize gun owners and ultimately drive gun manufacturers out of business while destroying the individual right to keep and bear arms in the process. . . .

Split personalities for South Africans on Guns

5/17/2006

"New NRA Campaign Asks Lawmakers to Pledge Not to Confiscate Guns in Times of Crisis"

If McCain’s going to claim he’s a conservative on guns, then he’s got some explaining to do.

I have a new op-ed at National Review Online today:

With presidential primaries just over two-and-a-half years away, John McCain is moving back towards Republican conservatives. On some issues, from campaign finance to illegal immigration to global warming, he isn’t even trying to convince conservatives that he agrees with them. But he realizes he can’t oppose them on everything. So, on other important issues, such as taxes, abortion, and guns, he’s brandishing his conservative credentials.

It is quite a contrast to his 2000 presidential campaign, when he openly criticized and needled conservatives. This last Saturday, he even gave a graduation talk at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University (though, for balance, he will also be addressing this week graduates at New York City’s very left-wing New School).

Reporters speculated on Meet the Press on Sunday that McCain wants to make amends with conservatives well before he officially announces his candidacy for president next year. So can he convince people he is still sufficiently conservative? . . . .

5/16/2006

Verdict on Canadian Gun Registry

The one point missing from all these facts is that not one single crime has been solved by all this money that was spent. Not one single crime!

Canadian TV

The former Liberal government went to great lengths to hide the true costs of the controversial gun registry, Auditor General Sheila Fraser said in a scathing report released Tuesday.

Though the decade-long expense of the controversial registry through the end of fiscal 2005 has been tallied at $946 million -- coming in below an earlier approximation of $1 billion -- government officials concealed the actual amount, Fraser said in her first report since the minority Conservatives came to power earlier this year. . . . .


Toronto Sun

The former Liberal government cooked the books on the much-maligned gun registry program, ignoring legal advice and hiding the true cost of the registry from Parliament, says the auditor general. . . . .


Calgary Sun

Canada's spending watchdog delivered more damning revelations about hidden cost overruns, sloppy storage of information and broken accounting rules on the gun registry yesterday, but opposition critics insist it's not enough ammunition to justify the Conservative government's plan to kill the controversial program.

In her eight-part spring report, auditor general Sheila Fraser fingered the last Liberal government for keeping MPs in the dark about excessive costs for the registry -- an issue she called "very serious." Her audit found the costs of a computer information system ballooned from an initial $32-million price tag to more than $90 million -- and it still isn't operational.

She also revealed two "significant errors" in financial reporting to Parliament, $39 million in 2002-03 and another $21.8 million the following year, but couldn't say if the Grits deliberately attempted to hide unauthorized spending. . . . .

Tony Snow, Knocks Them Dead in His First Full Blown Press Briefing

54% of Canadians Support Scrapping Gun Registry

A new Ipso-Reid survey for CanWest/Global News reports that most Canadians (54%) feel the “gun registry is badly organized, isn’t working properly, and should be scrapped” – a level of opinion essentially unchanged from what was recorded nearly four years, and two Prime Ministers ago (53% expressed this opinion in a December 2002 Ipsos Reid survey).

Professor Gary Mauser, from Simon Fraser University is not surprised by the results. "The expected Auditor General's report will probably peg the cost of the firearms registry at over two billion dollars," stated Mauser. "This cost is exorbitant but that is not the worst problem with the registry. The Liberal government hid the true costs from Parliament, so the public could not discover the the real cost."

"Even worse, the registry did nothing to improve public safety and may even have made Canadians less safe. Since 1998, when the registry was introduced, homicide rates have increased, while both violent crime rates and suicide rates have remained stubbornly stable. The worst is that the registry vacuumed money from other programs -- like hiring more police officers and putting violent criminals in jail longer -- that might actually have done some good," concluded Mauser. . . . .


Thanks to James for sending me this link.

Bizarre Patents

This is simply too funny:

A five-year-old kid from Minnesota has patented a way of swinging on a child's swing. The US Patent Office issued patent 6,368,227 on 9 April to Steven Olson of St Paul, Minnesota for a "method of swinging on a swing". Olson's father Peter is a patent attorney.

The award has generated a mixture of chuckles and frustration at an overworked patent system unable to catch absurd applications. The patent covers moving a swing side to side or in an oval pattern. Children can get bored by swinging back and forth, or by twisting the swing to make it spin, the patent says.

"A new method of swinging on a swing would therefore represent an advance of great significance and value," it reads. Olson's alternative is to pull on one chain at a time, so the swing moves towards the side being pulled.

Peter Olson told New Scientist: "I had told him that if he invented something he could file a patent." His son had not seen sideways swinging because the swings at his school are closely spaced, so he asked his father to file the application.

The patent office initially rejected the application for prior art - citing two earlier patents on swings - but Peter Olson appealed, noting that neither was a method for swinging sideways. The patent was then issued. . . . .


Update: A friend of mine who is a lawyer writes me that:

" I've read the swinging patent. It is now expired, for failure to pay maintenance fees, so you can now go out and swing sideways.

"Have you heard of the patent for a method for aerobically exercising a cat? You wave a laser pointer around and let the cat chase it."

Texas raises maximum speed limit to 80 MPH

5/15/2006

Comments of Canadian Police on The Canadian Gun Registry

There is a long list of quotes here:

23-YEAR VETERAN OF THE ONTARIO PROVINCIAL POLICE: In June of 2006 I will be commencing my 24th year as a member of the Ontario Provincial Police. For 18 of those years I have been assigned the rank of Detective, specifically assigned to major criminal investigations. I must point out that in all my experience as a police officer I have only investigated one homicide were a firearm was the weapon used in the slaying. In contrast, the majority of murders that I have been involved in as an investigator, a knives were preferred and two separate occasions a hammer was the weapon of choice. I have however been involved in the investigation of countless offences such as robbery, where handguns were the weapon of choice and I must point out Sir, that the firearms registry did not assist in solving one, nor obviously in deterring one. The reasons that the firearms registry is so highly ineffectual are, I believe obvious, but basically it affects the wrong people, law abiding citizens and not criminals. . . . .

Note on claim that we can't deport 12 million illegal aliens

I frequently hear the claim that we can't deport 12 million illegal aliens. Whatever the feasiblity of that, it is imortant to note that giving ilegal aliens what essentially amounts to a clean pass will simply encourage more illegals to come into the country. The argument is similar to why you don't let criminals generally go after they are caught.

5/14/2006

Getting rid of standardized educational tests in California

Why is so difficult for some to understand that equality of opportunity and equality of outcomes are not the same? Is there any hope for objective standards? For whatever reason, is it clear that no matter what is done that all these different groups will necessarily do equally well on a standardized test?

A California judge suspended the state's high school exit exam as a graduation requirement Friday, saying California public schools don't fairly prepare all students -- a decision that calls into question whether the state can enforce a test of basic math and English competency for a diploma.

The ruling could allow thousands of seniors who haven't passed the controversial exam to receive diplomas in the coming weeks. But they can't be sure: State Superintendent Jack O'Connell said he will appeal quickly and seek a court order to keep the exam requirement in force until the legal battle is resolved. And for educators, students and parents, the decision deepens uncertainty about the exam's future.

The same judge could rule as soon as next week on another lawsuit that challenges whether the test can be required for graduation this year. If the exit exam is blocked in that case, the state may have to develop an alternative test -- probably allowing students to graduate without passing an exit exam for at least a year. . . . .

Hugo Chavez's police blamed "for much of the [Venezuela's] violence"

Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the world and now it is claimed that Hugo Chavez's police may be responsible for much of this violence. Chavez has apparently accomplished something that had only previously been accomplished by some of the world's worst totalitarian regimes in history.

Herma Marksman, who spent nearly 10 years of her life as "the other woman" at the side of Hugo Chavez, as the military man plotted his way to power in the '80s and 90's, still recalls her ex-lover as "sweet" and "kind," but when it comes to his current rule over Venezuela, the ex-mistress uses words like "totalitarian" and "fascist dictatorship."

The professor of history, who's written two books about Chavez's politics, told the London Times: "He is imposing a fascist dictatorship. A totalitarian regime is coming because he doesn't believe in democratic institutions. Hugo controls all the powers." . . . .

Venezuela's police force has been blamed by human rights groups for much of the nation's violence and Caracas, the capital, has the world's highest murder rate per capita. . . . .

Are guns effectively banned in most US cities?

Fox News has an interesting program on Alan Korwin's work showing that the gun free school zones make it impossible for people to own guns legally in most cities. The program gave a lot of attention to someone defending the laws and it would have been useful to at least address the question whether these gun free zones actually produced any beneficial effects. I know of no studies that show that gun free zones reduce crime and I have research that indicates the opposite. Letting the defender of the laws simply claiming a benefit without any evidence was unfortunate, though I am glad that Alan was given a chance to point out the impact of these laws.

New gun lock research from Australia

There is a new report out by the Australian Institute of Criminology on Firearms Theft . While the discussion is not clearly written in the text, it was my understanding from talking to Jenny Mouzos that out of 664 firearms stolen there were five instances where stolen guns were used in "crime or violence" (two of those instances involved a suicide) (p. 11 and 59). There was apparently one murder committed with a stolen gun.

When I talked to Jenny, one question that I asked her was how many defensive gun uses there were in Australia, and she told me that it was a crime to use a gun defensively, though she didn't know more than that. She did not even know how many prosecutions there were of defensive uses (completely guessing it could be a dozen times a year that people are prosecuted), though I noted that would presumably provide a lower bound on defensive uses since not all such cases are likely to be reported to the police. The bottom line that I tried to get across to her is that while she advocates locking up guns, it is quite possible that more lives were lost from locking up guns and people not being able to use them defensively than were saved by locks making it difficult for criminals to steal guns. Unfortunately, her report completely ignores this trade-off despite our discussion. My research published in the Journal of Law and Economics on gun lock laws in the United States that explicitly analyzes this trade-off was presented at conference she attended in New Zealand earlier this year.

The report indicates that in Australia .04% of guns were stolen (1 out of every 2,500 guns). That means that .0003% of guns owned lawfully are stolen and used in a "crime or violence." Given the very expensive safes required to lock up the guns, I wouldn't be surprised if the costs of the locks alone more than offset and benefits from the regulations. Though it is not the levels but the changes in crimes with stolen guns that is the issue, that benefit is also likely to be small as the report acknowledges that there was a downward pre-existing trend in firearms stolen prior to the gun lock requirements and that it continued afterwards.

She makes a lot of strong claims that guns should be locked up, but there is really no evidence in this paper that proves that the benefits exceed the costs. To do that type of study you want to see how much these gun lock laws changed the number of crimes committed with guns or at least the number of guns stolen and compare it to the costs of those laws (fewer defensive uses, cost of locks, etc.). The report doesn't really systematically examine any of these changes or trade-offs in costs and benefits. As just noted, the closest that the report comes to any of this is to say that there was a downward pre-existing trend in firearms stolen prior to the gun lock requirements and that it continued afterwards.

Thanks to James Murray for alerting me to this study.

John McCain Pro-Gun?

I had to read this a couple of times. My guess is that there are a lot of conservatives who would voted for McCain if they could really be convinced that he had these views, but he has a lot of baggage on these topics and it really comes across as an election induced conversion (or at least a conversion back to views that he held a decade or so ago).

McCain's aides say the conservative concerns are unfounded. He has an 80-plus percent approval rating from the National Tax Limitation Committee. He enjoys similarly high marks from the Christian Coalition. His legislative record is pro-life and pro-gun, his aides say. "Has he ever not voted for a conservative jurist? There may be one or two cases," says McCain's chief of staff, Mark Salter. . . .


Despite being a genuine hero during the Vietnam war, the difficulty for McCain is that he has problems on lots of issues: taxes, campaign finance, guns, and other topics. Conservatives might be able to put up with a couple of these positions, but there are just too many for most conservatives. On guns, take McCain's links to Americans for Gun Safety. Also take McCain's regulations on Gun Shows. I personally found many of his arguments on guns quite misleading. Possibly McCain's strategy makes sense for him getting elected (that is normally take positions that are popular with the media and many liberals and then say that you are "pro-gun" during a Republican presidential primary), but either this is calculated or McCain honestly doesn't know what conservatives view as pro-gun or anti-gun. I wish that he could convince me that he would be arguing as forcefully after the Republican primaries that he is "pro-gun."

McCain on Oil

Just for the sake of discussion, I thought that I would check out how conservative McCain is on other issues, such as the claimed price gouging by oil companies.

1)
Motorists paying up to $3.50 a gallon for gasoline castigate oil companies and their executives with a growing list of high-octane epithets: Greedy. Un-American. The new robber barons.

On Wednesday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) invoked the harshest image yet. "I think they have the least PR sensitivity of any group outside of satanic cults," he said. . . .


2)
McCain, referring to pending gasoline price-gouging legislation, said "Americans are understandably upset when they see the former CEO of Exxon-Mobil getting $400 million or something similarly obscene." . . .

5/13/2006

Gov. Ed Rendell seeks mandate for more gun control in Pennsylvania

Governor Rendell is again calling for changes to Pennsylvania gun laws following the first fatal shooting of an on-duty Philadelphia police officer in a decade.

The governor tells public radio that gun regulation is a touchy subject beyond Philadelphia and its suburbs.

"This is a state with a lot of gun ownership. But I do think the legislators mistake that for thinking that for believing that gun owners don’t want reasonable gun laws that would affect criminals," Rendell said. "So we’re going to try again. But it’s an uphill fight in Harrisburg."

But he said he’ll continue to push for additional local control for the city.

"What I’m going to try mostly to do is convince the legislature to let Philadelphia have the right to pass its own gun laws. We had that, when I was mayor, up until 1996 – then they took it away from us. I’d like them to give us that right back," Rendell said. . . .


I am not sure what one officer being killed in a decade shows regarding gun control, but the officer was apparently killed with a shotgun (see below). I don't recall any laws specifically addressing the ownership of shotguns that was in effect in Philadelphia before 1995 or is currently being proposed if local regulatory control was granted. I hope that Rendell isn't allowed to view a win in the gubernatorial race this fall as a mandate for more gun laws. He was able to use his previous win as a mandate for higher income and other taxes in the state. Here is some info on the shooting:

Officer Gary Skerski, 46, was heading to the rear entrance of the bar in the city's Frankford section about 10 p.m. Monday when a man came out and fired a shotgun blast, striking him in the neck.

"This officer didn't appear like he even had an opportunity to pull his weapon," Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said.. . .

Labels:

Canada's sponsorship scandal, finally the right amount of damages being discussed

Well, may be not the right amount, but at least closer to the right amount. I never understood how the Canadian media let the Liberals get away with saying that they only had to pay back $1.1 million for the money that was stolen. $1.1 million was the amount of the kickbacks that could be clearly linked to the stolen money, but $40.5 million is still unaccounted for. In either case, this would be the equivalent to charging robbers with only the value of the items as determined by the fence. What would make even more sense is the amount that was given out by the Liberals to their pals. Something in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

But Justice John Gomery concluded that millions of dollars were diverted to Liberal-friendly ad firms for little or no work, pocketed by Liberal organizers or kicked back to the Liberal party's Quebec wing.

It has never been clear exactly how much of the sponsorship money wound up in Liberal coffers.

Harper spokesman Dimitri Soudas pointed out that Gomery found $40.5 million from the program remains unaccounted for.

But Liberals countered there's no evidence any of that missing money went to them.
Based on Gomery's findings and a forensic audit he commissioned, the Liberals calculated that $1.14 million was diverted to the party from the federal sponsorship program. That money was repaid last year.
. . .

5/12/2006

Weapons grade uranium found again in Iran?

The U.N. nuclear watchdog has found traces of weapons-grade enriched uranium at a second site in Iran, diplomats said on Thursday, and President Bush warned Tehran it faces global condemnation.

One diplomat told Reuters the discovery could support Tehran's explanation that the discovery of highly enriched uranium at a previous site in Iran was due to contamination from imported components.

But several other diplomats said it could support the U.S. theory that Iran has been secretly purifying uranium for use in a nuclear explosive device -- a charge Tehran denies. . . .


What the discovery does support is that Iran has weapon grade uranium. The discover at a second site indicates that the discovery at the first site was not the result of some hard to believe accident. The claim that this supports "Tehran's explanation" just seems bizarre. How does the fact that this weapons grade uranium was found at a second site prove anything about imported components? Would finding such uranium at a third or fourth site make that case even stronger?

Single Juror Kept Moussaoui from being Executed

The point that upset me the most is not that there was just a single juror that stop Moussaoui from being executed, but that this single juror never had to provide any reason. It makes the decision come across as one that the juror didn't even feel could be defended.

A single holdout kept the jury from handing a death sentence to Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in this country in the 9/11 attacks.

But that juror never explained his vote, said the foreman of the jury that sentenced the confessed Al Qaeda conspirator to life in prison last week. . . .


UPDATE: Just a reminder, that Moussaoui told us "you lose" when he was given life imprisonment instead of the death penalty. Here is an op-ed by Mark Steyn to remind everyone:

"America, you lose," said Zacarias Moussaoui as he was led away from the court last week.

Hard to disagree. Not just because he'll be living a long life at taxpayers' expense. He'd have had a good stretch of that even if he'd been "sentenced to death," which in America means you now spend more years sitting on Death Row exhausting your appeals than the average "life" sentence in Europe. America "lost" for a more basic reason: turning a war into a court case and upgrading the enemy to a defendant ensures you pretty much lose however it turns out. And the notion, peddled by some sappy member of the ghastly 9/11 Commission on one of the cable yakfests last week, that jihadists around the world are marveling at the fairness of the U.S. justice system, is preposterous. The leisurely legal process Moussaoui enjoyed lasted longer than America's participation in the Second World War. Around the world, everybody's enjoying a grand old laugh at the U.S. justice system.

Except for Saddam Hussein, who must be regretting he fell into the hands of the Iraqi justice system. Nine out of 12 U.S. jurors agreed that the "emotional abuse" Moussaoui suffered as a child should be a mitigating factor. Saddam could claim the same but his jury isn't operating to the legal principles of the Oprahfonic Code. However, if we ever catch Mullah Omar or the elderly Adolf Hitler or pretty much anyone else we're at war with, they can all cite the same list of general grievances as Moussaoui.

He did, in that sense, hit the jackpot. We think of him as an "Islamic terrorist," an Arab, but he is, in fact, a product of the Western world: raised in France, radicalized in Britain, and now enjoying a long vacation in America. The taxpayers of the United Kingdom subsidized his jihad training while he was on welfare in London. Now the taxpayers of the United States will get to chip in, too.

On the afternoon of Sept. 11, as the Pentagon still burned, Donald Rumsfeld told the president, "This is not a criminal action. This is war." . . . .

"twice as big a scandal as the [Canadian] sponsorship scandal"

PUBLICATION: National Post
DATE: 2006.05.12
EDITION: National
SECTION: Canada
PAGE: A4
BYLINE: Allan Woods
SOURCE: CanWest News Service
DATELINE: OTTAWA
ILLUSTRATION: Black & White Photo: Garry Breitkreuz.
WORD COUNT: 691

---------------------------------------------------
Contract is registry's 'smoking gun': Public works investigating: Conservative MP says $273M computer deal hidden from Parliament

----------------------------------------------------
OTTAWA - The former Liberal government "broke every rule in the book" when it signed a $273-million computer contract for the federal gun registry -- now the subject of a "stop-work" order -- and never reported the costs or terms of the deal to Parliament, a long-time Conservative gun-registry critic alleges.

Saskatchewan Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz, who discovered the existence of the 15-year contract last fall, said it was never reported to Parliament in government estimates on spending, or disclosed by the Treasury Board, which controls the government purse.

A Tory source referred to the 383-page contract, which was obtained by Mr. Breitkreuz under the Access to Information Act and provided to CanWest News Service, as the "smoking gun" in the troubled saga of the Canadian Firearms Centre.

The revelations come after CanWest revealed that Auditor-General Sheila Fraser will report on Tuesday that the former Liberal government kept the true costs of the gun registry from Parliament and that the problems identified in her initial 2002 audit of the controversial program continued for at least three years despite fierce criticism and the scrutiny of opposition parties.

"When they gave out that $273-million contract, they broke every rule in the book," Mr. Breitkreuz said, echoing the phrase that Ms. Fraser made famous in her audit of the $250-million sponsorship program.

Former Liberal public works minister Scott Brison disputed the Tory allegations yesterday, saying "to the best of my knowledge we were extremely vigorous" in reporting gun-registry costs to Parliament.

Nevertheless, the Conservatives believe the findings they expect to see in next Tuesday's audit of the firearms program will give them the ammunition they need to scrap the registry.

"I think it's a huge story, and in my mind, this is twice as big a scandal as the sponsorship scandal because here you've got contracts over $500-million going out and the work being done just doesn't measure up to that kind of money that we're spending," Mr. Breitkreuz said. . . .

The lead company in the consortium, Montreal-based CGI Information Systems, was under contract for four years to the federal government while the Liberals and top public servants responsible for the firearm registry struggled to find ways to bring the escalating costs under control.

A 2004 report for the government noted that an "unstable" legislative environment and continuous delays were driving up the cost of the registry.

EDS Canada, the registry's original computer firm, was under contract at the same time as CGI, but its computer system was not considered flexible enough for the changing demands government officials placed upon it.

Team Centra's term running the gun registry computer system began on Dec. 5, 2005, according to the contract, but there are suggestions that a test run on the new computer system was a "huge failure," Mr. Breitkreuz said, adding that the original computer system designed by EDS Canada is still being used to process gun registrations.

"I'm really interested to know if we made any payments on that $273-million contract," he said.

Both Mr. Fortier and Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, whose department is responsible for the firearms program, declined interview requests yesterday.

In her 2002 report on the federal gun registry, the Auditor-General found that Parliament had been "kept in the dark" about the costs of the program, and that they had risen to $1-billion from $119-million when it was created in 1995.

"She stopped her audit at $1-billion because she couldn't find out where the rest of the money has gone. Maybe she has found out more and is able to determine the actual costs," Mr. Breitkreuz suggested. . . . ..

How Hybrid Cars Make Our Country Poorer

If the only reason that you use a hybrid car is because of the government subsidy, it is likely that hybrids are making the country poorer. The analysis is no different that for farm subsidies or protecting jobs in the steel industry. In this case, the example below implies that the social loss is $1,271 per car. You want to save gas? Well, the price of the gas already incorporates all the opportunity costs and gives you the right incentive to economize. There are obviously many ways to economize and you weigh those costs against the gains from not having to buy as much gasoline. Worried about the fact that Iran may stop delivery? Well, that risk is already in the price of gas. If Iran were to stop deliveries, the price would rise to some amount. Traders will raise the current price to that expected price. If they didn't, someone could make some money. The point in referencing the example below is that if the cost of gasoline paid for the additional cost of the hybrid vehicle, you wouldn't need a subsidy. That additional cost of buying something that doesn't pay for itself is a loss to the country. Let the Europeans or others adopt these environmental rules. They will pay the cost and we will get a slightly lower price for gas (the effects hardly seem large given that we live in a world market for gas).

Incentives

The incentives of purchasing a hybrid car could be philosophical, financial or environmental. Berman recognizes that not everyone is willing to go completely green right away.

"Everyone should take little steps," Berman told LiveScience. "Buy the most efficient fuel car. It doesn't have to be hybrid. If you don't need an SUV, don't get an SUV."

Some car buyers might want to look at the decision from a purely financial standpoint.

Here is an example of how one choice might work out:

The average American drives 15,000 miles each year, with 45 percent of that on highways. The traditional Honda Civic costs about $17,110, and it gets about 30 miles per gallon in the city and 40 highway. At $2.92 a gallon, this subcompact car costs $1,296 in gasoline in one year.

At $22,900, the Honda Civic Hybrid will initially cost a bit more, but with an average of 50 miles per gallon, a year of gas will cost $878.

In 10 years, taking into account inflation at 3 percent but not factoring in any possible changes in gas prices, the gas savings of a hybrid reaches almost $5,000.

Finally, a new federal incentive program allows you to receive a one-time $2,100 tax credit for buying a hybrid.

Tally up all the extra costs and factor in the savings — not counting additional incentives offered by some states — after 10 years, this hybrid will ultimately save you about $1,229. . . . .

5/11/2006

Report due any day on Problems with Canadian Gun Registry

I wish that the other thing that the report would go into would be that despite these costs it hasn't solved any crimes, though of course the former liberal government already admitted that.

PUBLICATION: The Ottawa Citizen
DATE: 2006.05.11
EDITION: EARLY
SECTION: News
PAGE: A1 / Front
BYLINE: Allan Woods
SOURCE: The Ottawa Citizen
NOTE: Auditor: Sheila Fraser says she won't use new powers, pageA3
WORD COUNT: 676

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Liberals hid gun registry costs: report: Auditor general to reveal huge expenses were buried in routine reports for several years

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The former Liberal government buried the huge costs incurred by the federal gun registry deep within mandatory reports on government spending, the auditor general is expected to reveal next week.

In a new report, Sheila Fraser is expected to reveal that the problems she identified in a 2002 report -- including that Parliament was "kept in the dark" about the ballooning costs related to the registry -- persisted for three years, despite fierce criticism and the scrutiny of opposition parties. She will also note that there were serious difficulties related to the handling of computer contracts.

Ms. Fraser is expected to lay the blame at the feet of top public servants and their former Liberal masters when her report is released on Tuesday. . . . ..

5/09/2006

Don't throw in the towel yet on Republicans keeping control of Congress

"The real oil profiteers"

My friend Ben Zycher has a nice piece in yesterday's Orange County Register on oil company profits.

Reagan, of course, cast aside the nonsense of price controls, windfall-profit taxes and conspiracy accusations promoted by innumerable experts, officials and pundits in the context of the 1970s oil crises, allowing market forces to engender sharply lower prices in the 1980s. That wisdom is withering away.

In contrast, still standing tall is the fundamental principle that the Great Leonid Ilyich of the former Soviet Union bequeathed to all mankind: What's Mine Is Mine, and What's Yours Is Up For Grabs. (I translate loosely from old editions of Pravda.)

And so, in the wake of sharply rising gasoline prices, many in both Washington, D.C., and Sacramento now stand foursquare in favor of the Brezhnev approach, in the form of loud clamoring for "windfall profit" taxes to be imposed upon oil producers and refiners.

During 1986 through 1999, when market conditions were weak, and oil prices were low, did anyone advocate a "windfall loss" subsidy for those same producers? The question answers itself. This asymmetry means that over time producers would find it difficult to earn competitive returns, since upside potential would be limited by tax policies driven by popular passions, while downside risks would remain as they are. Investment would fall, longer-term production capacity would decline, and prices would rise, another shining achievement of Beltway magic visited upon consumers.

Let us shunt aside the "conspiracy" accusations – as Pavlovian as they are unsupported by actual evidence – and ask why gasoline prices have increased sharply. First, there is the obvious: Crude-oil prices are high in substantial part because economic growth in Asia and elsewhere has strengthened demand conditions. Moreover, there are ongoing supply problems in Venezuela, Nigeria, Russia and other producing nations; and political uncertainty about the physical security of some fields and pipelines has added a risk premium to prices.

Three refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast shut down by hurricanes last fall only now are slowly returning to operation. Other refineries at that time deferred planned maintenance in order to continue production (so much for purported conspiracies) until this spring, while others are undergoing planned spring maintenance now in advance of the summer driving season. And so gasoline production has declined recently by about 450,000 barrels per day, yielding a 20 million-barrel reduction in stocks over the past month. . . . .

5/08/2006

Will Donohue and Levitt predict that a massive new crime wave is coming?

Guttmacher Institute, associated with Planned Parenthood, claims that: "The rate of unintended births — unintended pregnancies carried to term — rose by 44 percent among poor women from 1994 to 2001, but declined by 8 percent for wealthier women." If true, I assume that those few who still believe that abortion massively reduces violent crime rates after the errors were discovered in the original research will be predicting that we will soon see a big increase in violent crime rates. If up to 80 percent of the changes in murder rates can be explained by abortion as has been argued, those who believe this relationship must be worried we could be in for big increases in murder. (Of course, the abortion is more likely to slightly increase crime.) People born in 1994 will become teenagers starting next year. Presumably, proponents of this theory will start warning people very soon.

Labels: , , , ,

Under British Socialized Medicine: Doctor Heal Thyself

Lessons from Gas Price Controls in Hawaii

John Fund in today's OpinionJournal's Political Diary writes:

. . . Late last month, legislators quietly agreed on a bill to rescind Hawaii's eight-month-old experiment with gasoline price caps. While every Democrat in the legislature had voted in favor of the caps in 2005, all but one now voted to scrap the idea as unworkable. . . .

Hawaii's legislation capped the wholesale price of gasoline last September just as Hurricane Katrina caused oil prices to soar. Far from restraining prices, the regulations led to spot shortages, panic buying and general confusion. The law's main motivation appears to have been an attempt to retaliate against big oil companies, namely Chevron. But legislators two weeks ago finally surrendered to political reality. According to The Honolulu Advertiser: "Several lawmakers privately believed the cap would work over time but the risk was too great if they left it in place and gas prices skyrocketed over the summer when they were out of session and campaigning for re-election."

But even though the gas cap regulations are going away, the damage they caused will linger. "Oil companies will be leery of investing capital into their Hawaii operations, knowing that all that stands between them and a new lower Gas Cap, which might order them to sell gasoline below their cost of production, is a few bad poll numbers in an election year or a majority of bad apples in the new legislature," notes HawaiiReporter.com. . . .


One always hopes that these lessons don't have to be learned again and again.

TV Special on Annie Oakley Tonight

Even the New York Times concedes that this is an excellent show tonight:

Plenty of women accomplished plenty of things in the first century or so of United States history, so it's a little dismaying to think that the country's first female superstar was famous not for her voice or her musicianship or her brain, but for her ability to shoot firearms accurately. Yet tonight's installment of "American Experience" on PBS makes the case that Annie Oakley was the first American woman whose fame and knack for spawning legends (a close cousin of gossip) qualified as superstardom.

Even if her particular talent is not to your liking, it would be difficult to watch this program and not be awed by the woman's life. Oakley, born Phoebe Ann Moses in Ohio in 1860, lived during a remarkable stretch of history that encompassed both the Civil War and World War I, one that began on horseback by lamplight and ended in automobiles under electric bulbs.

So familiar are the images of Oakley in old-time Western regalia, making her seem like some preindustrial artifact, that it's surprising to see movies of her, shot by Thomas Edison in his New Jersey studio. It's surprising too to track the incredible array of luminaries she met or performed for or with, Sitting Bull on the one extreme, Oscar Wilde on the other. . . . . .


Thanks to Don Kates for letting me know about this.

Gore running for President

The Wall Street Journal reports that Al Gore is likely to enter 2008 presidential race:

For former Vice President Al Gore, a rash of favorable publicity surrounding this month's opening of his movie "An Inconvenient Truth," and the growing political resonance of its subject -- global warming -- are stoking the most serious speculation about a Gore political comeback since his loss in the 2000 U.S. presidential election.

In 2008, that could mean a once-unimaginable battle for Democrats' nomination between Bill Clinton's former vice president and his wife, Hillary Clinton. To some pro-Gore Democrats, worried about Mrs. Clinton's electability, that is part of the appeal.

"I appreciate that buzz, but he's not running for president," insists Michael Feldman, a former vice presidential adviser who is helping promote the film and Mr. Gore's new book on which it is based. "He has been spending a considerable amount of time trying to educate people about the issue of global warming," and won't talk about politics "right now," Mr. Feldman says.

The demurrals aren't persuasive to some Democrats, including former Clinton-Gore White House insiders. "I do know that he's thinking about it. I know for a fact," a former adviser says. "He's talked to people about the pros and cons." . . . . .


Since the 2000 campaign, Gore has drifted farther and farther left and gotten more and more shrill. I just hope that the Republicans have a strong contender. On guns, he ran on a platform of gun registration in 2000.

5/07/2006

Ohio Concealed Permit Holder Shoots Robber

Stating the obvious on right-to-carry research

Here is a recent short note that I wrote up:

An April 15 People's Forum letter attacking my research was filled with inaccurate claims. It said that my research showing that concealed carry gun laws lead to a drop in violent crime has been "entirely discredited" and "failed to stand up when examined by more objective researchers." In fact, a large number of refereed academic studies have confirmed my results, some finding drops in crime even larger than I did. For a list of papers see: http://johnrlott.tripod.com/postsbyday/RTCResearch.html. . . .

Interestingly, there are no refereed academic journal publications that claim that right-to-carry laws increase any type of violent crime rate.

John Lott

ABA: "Alito’s first opinion favors murder defendant"

It is undoubtedly good politically that Alito start off with a decision such as this because it will slightly take the edge off attacks on his later decisions. Personally, I also don't think that this particular case is troublesome to conservatives either.

In his first opinion for the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., a former federal prosecutor, overturned a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling restricting a murder defendant’s right to produce evidence that another person committed the crime.

The South Carolina Supreme Court had ruled that since the state had strong forensic evidence of the defendant’s guilt, he was precluded from introducing his evidence of third-party guilt.

Writing for a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court in Holmes v. South Carolina, No. 04-1327, Alito said the state court erred in evaluating only the strength of the prosecution’s case and not the defendant’s evidence. Criticizing the South Carolina rule as "arbitrary," Alito said it violated the defendant’s constitutional right to present a complete defense.

"The true strength of the prosecution’s proof cannot be assessed without considering challenges to the reliability of the prosecution’s evidence," wrote Alito, who served in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey and in the Justice Department. His opinion vacated the judgment of the South Carolina court and remanded for further proceedings. . . .

Worker confidence in the U.S. labor market strong and rising

Ads for Citgo gasoline touting its connections with Venezuela?: Is this serious?

I was just watching Meet the Press where there was an ad pushing Citgo gasoline stations and its relationship to Venezuela. It was a little stunning to see an ad pointing to ties to Venezuela as a strength for a gasoline company. I did a search and came across websites trying to get Americans to buy Citgo gas because Citgo is owned by Venezuela. A Marxist dictator who is brutally killing his own people being held up as a positive reason to buy gasoline? Here is one example:

Looking for an easy way to protest Bush foreign policy week after week? And an easy way to help alleviate global poverty? Buy your gasoline at Citgo stations.
And tell your friends.

Of the top oil producing countries in the world, only one is a democracy with a president who was elected on a platform of using his nation's oil revenue to benefit the poor. The country is Venezuela. The President is Hugo Chavez. Call him "the Anti-Bush."

Citgo is a U.S. refining and marketing firm that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company. Money you pay to Citgo goes primarily to Venezuela -- not Saudi Arabia or the Middle East. . . .


UPDATE: I have gotten some of the wierdest messages ever after I made this post, and they have defended Chavez and saying that the people in Venezula know the truth: "where people actually know what's going on." Here are some examples of Chavez's behavior:

1) Cardinal Lara had this to say: “A government that was elected democratically seven years ago, has lost its democratic course and presents a face of dictatorship, where all of the powers of government are practically in the hands of a single person, who exercises them arbitrarily and despotically.”


2) The intensity of Chavez’s anti-Americanism is matched only by his zealous campaign against democracy at home. The most basic democratic pillar of free speech is in critical condition as Chavez supporters recently enacted a law which criminalized anti-government dissent; banging pots against the road is now a quick way for a Venezuelan citizen to be thrown in jail. The private press, constantly derided by President Chavez as defying “public order”, is now neutered by yet another presidential edict which allows the government to shut down news organizations without explanation or review. These methods are all part of Chavez’s “Bolivarian” political philosophy, which represents a dangerous amalgamation of Maoist-Marxist-populist dogma. Groups of pro-Chavez thugs dubbed “Bolivarian circles” have been recruited to intimidate, assault, and even kill enemies of his “Bolivarian revolution”. In a final step towards absolute power, the Venezuelan supreme court, stacked with a majority of 17 Chavez appointed judges, has hinted at its willingness to alter the ragged constitution even further, this time in order to declare Chavez “President for Life”.


3) The "presidential guards are responsible for the shooting of unarmed protesters." See also Chavez's supporters did "open fire" on opposition rallies.

4) The link here also discusses the disappearance and murder of opposition leaders, and how the government held a press conference to attack the dead man filled with many false claims about how he had died.

5) A summary of points can be found here.

5/06/2006

Circuit Court: Felons can be prevented from voting even if felons are disproportionately minorities

Given that the 14th amendment to the constitution clearly says that states can ban felons from voting, the issue would seem clear to me, but we will have to ultimately wait for the Supreme Court.

A landmark civil rights law cannot be used to argue that barring felons from voting discriminates against minorities because they are imprisoned at a higher rate, a federal court ruled Thursday. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which removed barriers to black voters, was not an avenue of relief for 21 plaintiffs, which include six current prisoners.

The plaintiffs sued the state in November 2000.

Judge Jose A. Cabranes, who voted with the majority in the 8-5 ruling, said there were "persuasive reasons'' to believe Congress did not intend the Voting Rights Act to cover laws passed to prevent prisoners and parolees from voting in New York elections.

He noted that every state except Maine and Vermont bans felons from voting.

Though the ruling related to elections in New York state, Cabranes acknowledged the issue has relevance nationwide and that "absent Congressional clarification, will only be definitively resolved by the Supreme Court.'' . . .


Minor aside: I recently debated this issue a few weeks ago in front of 1,700 high school students in Illinois. One of the phrases that bother me the most in this debate is referring to people as ex-felons once they are released from prison. The problem is that once a felon, you are always a felon unless your record is expunged.

5/05/2006

"United 93" is a very good movie

I went to see the movie "United 93" tonight and I thought that it was a very powerful movie. Given that there is little that I didn't already know, it was surprising that the movie could not only hold my attention, but that it was so riveting. The first half of the movie was a little slow at times, but the last half more than made up for that. The only change that I would have made would be to include a clock such as the one used in "24" or "High Noon." Not so much for suspense, but so that viewers would have some perspective on how little time different people had to respond to what was happening. There may have been just over an hour from when the first plane hit the towers to when United 93 crashed and less than one hour between the second plane hitting the towers and the crash of 93, but The people that I went with didn't seem to remember that and the film didn't make that clear enough. The reaction was one that the people running air traffic control and the military were incompetent, but I think that if people understood how little real time was involved, they would have been far less critical. It is the only movie that I have been to where i had no idea of the names of virtually any of the characters all the way through the movie. More importantly, not knowing the names didn't matter. Anyway, I would give the movie a strong 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Representative Patrick Kennedy Claims that he didn't drink alcohol before crash, but . . .

I have sympathetic to Representative Patrick Kennedy's problems with substance abuse, but he is digging a deeper hole for himself right now.

U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy insisted yesterday that he had consumed “no alcohol” before he slammed his Mustang convertible into a concrete barrier near his office, but a hostess at a popular Capitol Hill watering hole told the Herald she saw him drinking in the hours before the crash. “He was drinking a little bit,” said the woman, who works at the Hawk & Dove and would not give her name. Leaving his office late last night, Kennedy refused to say whether he’d been to the Hawk & Dove the night before.


Kennedy also claims that he did not ask for special treatment, but he did tell the police that he was on the way to a vote and congressmen apparently can't be stopped when that is true.

The Washington Post has a nice roundup on the story that relies on the early news coverage.

Having to hire people to hunt deer in suburban areas

Possibly we could consider lowering the fees to get hunting permits? My guess is that lowering deer populations in rural areas will reduce the number of deers in the suburbs.

Phil Norman wriggled into his blood-splattered overalls and got ready to shoot some deer. He had everything he needed for an evening hunting trip: a Remington Model 700 rifle, night-vision binoculars and a map of the terrain.

Not that it was particularly hard terrain to navigate.

Norman was stalking white-tailed deer amid the suburban cul-de-sacs of Columbia. Just a few hundred yards from where a little girl had been playing on a yellow swing on Nightshade Court, he crept, under cover of darkness, through part of a 300-acre park. Before he was done, he shot six deer.

Norman, a Howard County employee, said he aims away from the houses, uses a silencing device and takes only shots that could not ricochet toward people. County rules prevent him from firing within 150 yards of any occupied structure.

"It might sound strange to think of deer SWAT teams in the suburbs," said Norman, 50, a soft-spoken pastor with wire-rimmed glasses. "But if we don't do something pretty soon the deer will be stampeding down the streets." . . . .

Now they are relying more and more on sharpshooters and police SWAT teams to hunt the animals even in some densely populated neighborhoods.

The District and Fairfax and Montgomery counties --not to mention private citizens -- have hired professional sharpshooters to kill the animals.

There are perhaps a dozen registered deer sharpshooters in the region. . . .

5/04/2006

Another cost of Socialism, the high price of gas?

Feared Terrorist Leader Doesn't Know How to Shoot Machine Gun

"Call terrorist acts terrorism, BBC told"

Oversight board says that political correctness goes too far at BBC:

The BBC should not be afraid to use the word 'terrorism' in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a independent report commissioned by the corporation said today.

The report, which was ordered by the BBC governors from a panel of five independent figures last October to assess the contentious issue, found there was no evidence of "systematic" bias within the corporation.

However, the report criticises "the elusiveness of editorial planning, grip and oversight" of its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said the BBC does not "consistently give a full and fair account".

The panel made four main recommendations regarding areas for improvement - including the use of language.

"We say that the BBC should get the language right. We think they should call terrorist acts 'terrorism' because that term is clear and well understood," the panel's chairman, Sir Quentin Thomas, the president of the British Board of Film Classification, writes in his introductory statement to the report.

"Equally, on this and other sensitive points of language, once they have decided the best answer they should ensure it is adopted consistently."

Overall, the panel gave a positive assessment of the BBC's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - with a number of important caveats. . . . .

5/03/2006

The PAN Gains the lead in Mexico's Presidential Race

Oh, never mind. No evidence of price gouging.

Arizona's comprehensive investigation into that state's high fuel prices after Hurricane Katrina concludes that while there was "profiteering" at all levels of the oil industry, nothing illegal took place.

Washington's attorney general's office said in a report last week that its more recent investigation of today's high prices "has not found any evidence so far of illegal activity among gasoline retailers or producers in Washington."

Together, the two reports show that it is hard for authorities to prove consumers are being ripped off even in times of extraordinary price increases. . . . .


Of course, this article implies that "price gouging" is occurring, it is just too difficult for the government to prove. Still, there is NO EVIDENCE proving that price gouging is occurring. Of course, there was a report put out after Katrina by the FTC that found the same thing.

Ken Blackwell wins Ohio Republican Gubernatorial Primary

"With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Blackwell had 435,478 votes, or 56 percent, compared with 338,606, or 44 percent, for state Attorney General Jim Petro." Blackwell will be the strongest candidate that the Republicans could have put up against Strickland. With Lynn Swann leading in Pennsylvania, there is a reasonable chance that two black Republicans could be elected as governors this year, dramatically changing the political climate in the country.

More information on Blackwell's positions can be found here. Gun rights advocates will love what he posted on his site immediately prior to the primary.

"Protected sea lions are eating endangered salmon"

Fox News has an interesting video on protected sea lions are eating endangered salmon. The problem is that animal rights advocates say that sea lions are protected. It is possible to go through a very lengthy bureaucratic process to get approval to kill the sea lions, but it appears that one would have to go through this process over and over again as you would have to replace the troublesome sea lions when new sea lions will obviously come to take their place.

While I am at it, Fox News also has a nice discussion with Michael Barone about how the US has done a good job on the environment relative to other countries.

5/02/2006

A thought on the $100 tax cut to make up for high gasoline prices

The issue appears dead right now (and that is all to the good), but there is still one important point that could be made in partial defense of the Senate plan that got some attention for a few days. The alternative to giving everyone $100 tax cut would presumably have been to cut gasoline taxes for some period of time. My one concern is that, as any economist knows, the price of gasoline would have fallen by less than the decline in taxes. The problem would have been all the even stronger calls for more regulation because that smaller decline in the price woul have been seen as evidence of collusion by the oil companies.

Some amusing and unusually well done computer commercials

5/01/2006

Bruce Willis on the 2nd Amendment