Bill Clinton gets it partially right on global warming

Here is what Bill Clinton said in a campaign speech in Denver:

"We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren."
[Emphasis added]

At least he understands how these regulations will make us poorer.

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Moves in Virginia and South Dakota to allow permitted concealed handguns on college campuses

Here are articles on what is happening in Virginia and South Dakota on this issue. In Virginia, one bill is quite broad:

One bill, proposed by Delegate Todd Gilbert, would prevent a Board of Visitors from prohibiting people with concealed handgun permits from carrying a gun on state property, which would include the campuses of state universities. . . .

From South Dakota:

The only opponent to the bill was Jim Shekleton, legal counsel for the state Board of Regents, who said allowing students and faculty to carry guns could make campuses more dangerous.

If other people exchange gunfire with a madman in a classroom or sports arena, more people could be hurt or injured in the crossfire, Shekleton said. When law officers arrive, they might mistakenly shoot the wrong person if several people in the room are holding guns, he said.

"A free-fire zone is more likely to do more harm than good," Shekleton said. . . .


Mitt Romney Giving Up?

John Fund at the WSJ's Political Diary writes:

Mr. Romney has only a few days left to change the dynamic of the race before 21 states vote next Tuesday. As of yesterday afternoon, his campaign had purchased no television ad time in any of the Super Tuesday states. "If Thursday goes by without an ad buy, it will be a sign the Romney campaign is only going through the motions," says one TV advertising expert with ties to no candidate. "After all, we know he can write a check if he has to."

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt writes me that: "John: He's already up in CA with a 7 figure buy. HH" So it looks as if John Fund might be wrong this time.

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Teaching hunting as a class in school?

Given all the benefits from hunting, this seems like an idea whose time has come:

CHARLESTON, W.VA. --A significant drop in the number of hunters in West Virginia has left a hole in the state's budget, and one lawmaker thinks he has a solution: allow children to receive hunter training in school.
Seventh- through ninth-graders could opt for instruction in topics ranging from survival skills to gun safety, but the weapons would have dummy ammunition or be disabled. Sen. Billy Wayne Bailey, who introduced the bill this month, doesn't envision students firing real guns during class time. . . .

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Armed Teachers stop Terrorist Attack in Israel

A dramatic story can be found here:

Two Palestinian terrorists disguised in Israel Defense Forces (IDF) uniforms entered the study hall at Makor Haim High School in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion southeast of Jerusalem.

Al-Aksa Brigades: Assassinate Fayyad Armed with guns and knives, the terrorists managed to stab several students before armed school counselors arrived and shot them dead.

"The terrorists came inside and began stabbing the students," a defense official said.

"This could have ended much worse," said another in Central Command. . . .

Another version of the story is here:

In Gush Etzion, southeast of Jerusalem, two Palestinian gunmen wearing IDF uniforms burst into the Makor Haim yeshiva high school. Wielding guns and knives, they lightly injured two Israeli counselors before being shot dead.

The terrorists infiltrated Makor Haim, a kibbutz, sneaking into the main building of its high school seminary, run by world-renowned Talmudist, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. The terrorists entered a library room where seven of the boarding school's counselors were meeting. Dressed as security guards, and armed with a knife and what appeared to be a gun -- it later turned out to be a toy -- ordered the seven to line up on one side of the room. A counselor, realizing they were terrorists, drew his personal firearm and opened fire. Another grabbed the fake gun from the other terrorist, wrestled him to the floor, while the first counselor shot him. The terrorists managed to stab two of the counselors before falling dead.

At the same time, the Beit Medrash (study hall) -- adjacent to the library -- was packed with students taking part in the weekly Thursday night "mishmar" all-night Torah study session, Israel National News reported.

An army official praised the quick response of the students and their counselors. "This could have ended much worse," a source in the Central Command said.

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Identity politics out of control

This video from the New York Times is simply too much. This 23-year-old black woman is discussing with her friends who she should vote for in the Democratic Presidential Primary and the question is she more of a black or a woman. Nothing about issues. It was purely identity politics. Sonya Jones also has a very amusing post about how some women are viewing Ted Kennedy as a traitor because he endorsed Obama over a Hillary.

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Should students be able to have a BB gun club?

A school in State College, Pennsylvania has denied students the right to set up a club for BB guns.

The idea alone has already divided the school board, with some members saying they are worried about sending mixed messages to kids about bringing BB guns to school.

You can vote on what you think about that at this link.

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Government not to successful in keeping this well-known convicted killer from getting guns

The link to this story is here:

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- A federal jury convicted a 23-year-old man on an obscure weapons charge Tuesday, apparently unaware that 10 years ago he and another boy killed four classmates and a teacher in a schoolyard ambush.
Mitchell Johnson faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in the next 45 days on a count of possessing a firearm while being a drug user. Through his attorney, Johnson declined to comment Tuesday.
Johnson was arrested on New Year's Day 2007 after police stopped his van and said they found a bag of marijuana in his pocket and a 9 mm pistol and a 20-gauge shotgun in two bags. Police said they stopped the van after getting an anonymous tip about drugs in the vehicle.
In 1998, Johnson, then 13, and 11-year-old schoolmate Andrew Golden opened fire as students and teachers left Jonesboro Westside Middle School after Golden pulled the fire alarm. The boys killed English teacher Shannon Wright and four students ages 11 and 12. They wounded 10 other people. . . .

Thanks to Rich for sending this link.

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Deer Spreading into in even densely populated areas

Here is what one New Jersey County is trying to do:

MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (AP) -- On a hilltop with breathtaking views of New York's skyline, sharpshooters perched in trees took aim Tuesday at white-tailed deer, a species being crowded out of one of the nation's most densely populated areas.
The problem is common enough in New Jersey's suburbs, as it is in other communities that have brought in marksmen to thin the herd: When their numbers get too great, the gentle animals destroy the forest, spread Lyme disease and pose a hazard for drivers.
But perhaps nowhere else have the trained shooters been so close to so many people as they are on the South Mountain Reservation, a nature preserve bordering hundreds of high-priced homes in the thick of the country's most crowded state.
"I could come out on my deck and get shot," said Sharon McClenton, a 42-year-old teacher whose house in West Orange butts up against the preserve.
Officials and many other residents insist, to the consternation of animal rights activists, that the hunt is necessary. . . .


Exit polls from Florida

McCain is stronger among men, older voters, those who think that abortion should be legal, and people who rarely if ever go to church. There was one particularly strange fact: those who thought that McCain had the best chance of winning in the fall were somewhat less likely to vote for him than those who thought that Giuliani, Romney, or Huckabee would be the strongest candidates would vote for those candidates.

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Best line from Bush's State of the Union Address

From Bush's speech last night:

Others have said that they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome their enthusiasm. I'm pleased to report that the IRS accepts both checks and money orders.

He also had some good lines on vouchers and a couple of other topics. But his long list of spending proposals is very bothersome. I wish that once and a while the notion that the government should get involved in funding research and everything else would be questioned.


I will be on Ron Smith's Show on WBAL at 3:35 PM

I has been a busy day with radio interviews, primarily talking about my op-ed on the stimulus package. One of the shows that I did earlier was Greg Garrison's show on WIBC in Indianapolis, which is always a fun show to be on.



New Op-ed: 'Stimulus' Package Won't Jolt Economy

I have a new op-ed up at Fox News:

There is a lot of hysteria about the economy. Politicians worried about a voter backlash want to show voters that they are willing to do something.

Yet, the White House and Congressional proposal last week to send $100 billion in checks to Americans will not stimulate the economy, only waste taxpayers’ money. Instead of growing the economy as claimed, the expanded unemployment benefits being pushed by Senate Democrats will only shrink it. . . .

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Privatizing Education in the UK?

This is pretty amazing. In Britain, these companies don't just have the power to award some credits towards a degree, they have the "power" to award the degree:

McDonald's employees trained in skills needed to run outlets for the fast-food chain can get credit toward high school diplomas, the British government announced Monday.

Along with two other large companies, McDonald's Corp. was given the power to award the equivalent of advanced high-school qualifications as part of a plan to improve young people's skills, said the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, a government education regulator. . . .

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Movement in Arizona to cut back on gun free zones

Now Arizona joins other states in discussing ending these gun free zones:

The proposal, Senate Bill 1214, would exempt concealed-carry permit holders from a state law that bars individuals from knowingly carrying deadly weapons onto school property. If it becomes law, the measure would allow teachers and anyone else with a valid permit to carry their weapon onto the grounds of any public or private K-12 school, college or university in the state.

Supporters say the measure would provide an additional ring of security on campuses hit with a string of shootings in recent years. The most recent of which was last year's at Virginia Tech, which left 33 dead. The shootings have come in spite of heightened campus security and policies that are increasingly aimed at scrubbing any and all weapons from school grounds.

"Apparently, it hasn't really protected us . . . " noted Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor, a Gilbert Republican and co-sponsor of the proposal. The primary sponsor is Sen. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa.

Verschoor noted that concealed-carry permit holders must pass a criminal background check and take a gun-safety course, among other requirements.

But Rep. David Lujan, a Phoenix Democrat and president of the Phoenix Union High School District board, said he is "uncomfortable with having weapons on school campuses." . . .

WIth all the decades of experience in right-to-carry states before these gun free zones were imposed in 1995 it would be nice if those who are uncomfortable could point to some bad examples where permit holders have caused problems.

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Learning from Virginia Tech in Indiana?

A bill has been introduced in Indiana to help stop a similar attack from occurring there:

INDIANA - A new bill could allow you to bring a gun into a state building.

For those of you who wish you could carry your hand gun into state buildings. Your wish may soon become a reality. An Indiana senator is trying to pass a bill that would allow that to happen.

Incidents like this one at Virginia Tech is what prompted Indiana Senator John Waterman to introduce a bill that would allow folks to carry guns inside state buildings. Buildings like Indiana State University.

"If something would happen like Virginia Tech at least you'd have some people on campus that would be armed and be able to stop it before too many people get hurt," said Waterman. . . .

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10 things that Men and Women Don't Want to Hear

The Cost of Owning Hybrids

I was reading about the Toyota Highlander Hybrids. The identical hybrid version of the Highlander apparently costs $5,100 more. On the highway, the hybrid gets 27 mpg versus 24 mpg for the regular version -- a 12.5 percent improvement. For city driving, it looks as if the improvement is much larger 18 to 25 mpg -- a 38 percent improvement. Assume an average improvement of 25 percent. A couple of simple calculations indicate that this is unlikely to be a wise investment for most people. First some assumptions:

1) Own the car for 10 years
2) Put 150,000 miles on the car
3) 22 mpg average
4) $3.00 in current dollars
5) 3 percent real interest

Over the lifetime of the car you would buy 6,818 gallons. The present value of those purchases in today's dollars over those 10 years are as follows:

Year 1 $496.46
Year 2 $482.01
Year 3 $467.97
Year 4 $454.34
Year 5 $441.11
Year 6 $428.26
Year 7 $415.79
Year 8 $403.68
Year 9 $391.92
Year 10 $380.50

$4,362.04 versus a payment today of $5,100. You are about $738 poorer for buying the hybrid. The day that you buy the hybrid you might as well throw out $738.

There is one caveat regarding resale value for the car and how much being a hybrid would increase its value. I looked up the 1997 Toyota Tacoma Xtra Cab's trade-in value (the Highlander only started in 2001). If the truck is in good condition, the value would be $2,300 (again assuming a 3 percent real interest rate that is the equivalent of $1,711). Assuming that the hybrid equipment depreciates at the same rate as the rest of the car, that would leave you with $296 from the sale.

A final net loss of $442. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to throw away $442.

UPDATE: An important point has been raised in the comment section. The replacement costs of the batteries in hybrids are very high. That link quotes Car and Driver saying that: ""battery replacement will cost $5,300 for the Toyota and Lexus hybrids, and the Ford Escape replacements run a whopping $7,200." These costs swamp the estimate that I have produced.



Virginia House of Delegates Overwhelmingly Reject making Their Chamber a Gun Free Zone

Virginia's House of Delegates reject making their chamber a "gun free zone."

Delegates reject bill to bar guns in state House

An effort to keep guns out of the House of Delegates chamber, its meeting rooms and similar areas was shot down in the House yesterday 77-18.

The resolution introduced by Del. Lionell Spruill Sr., D-Chesapeake, would have allowed only state law-enforcement officers on official duty to be in House-assigned areas with a firearm. Spruill questioned yesterday the need for a gun in the House chamber or the General Assembly building.


Justice Swedish Style

The famed Karolinska Institute in Sweden faced a dilemma this last week. What to do about one of their students at the medical school had committed a vicious murder, fatally shooting someone seven times in a crime the police classified as a hate crime because of the killer's Nazi sympathies. The school expelled the murderer on the grounds that he had changed his name on his High School transcripts in order not to have his past discovered. To me though, there were two interesting parts of the story.

"After serving 6 1/2 years of an 11-year sentence, Mr. Svensson was released on parole in February 2007. According to Swedish prison standards, inmates are usually released after serving two-thirds of their sentence."


"others said he had served his time and should be permitted to stay and become a doctor."

It is interesting to me that someone can commit such a heinous crime and only receive 6 1/2 years of prison. Perhaps it is less surprising that people would feel that one's debt to society had been repaid after so short of a prison term and that this person could then be trusted to be a doctor (in the United States it is extremely unlikely that the person would ever be given a medical license). Apparently, Svensson, the murderer, had used "six years" of his 6 1/2 years in prison to take course online so it is not even clear how much of a penalty he really faced from prison. It also appears as if it might be relatively easy for one to hide their criminal record in Sweden, obviously Svensson was not released on parole, as he would have been in the US.

I have done a lot of research on the impact of criminal conviction on legitimate earnings in the US and I attempted to disentangle it from the length of the prison sentence, but it would be interesting to see if there was a similar impact in Sweden. One big difference could be if Swedes are better able to hide these criminal records. American criminals find it difficult because when they are released on parole, their employer must fill out reports to the criminal's probation officer. If you are unemployed or have a low level job for a number of years, it may be very difficult for a criminal to hide that past employment history.


Ben Wittes on the DOJ Brief on the DC Gun Ban Case

Ben Wittes at the New Republic quickly and accurately dissects the Bush Administration's DOJ brief on the DC gun ban case:

It's easy to see why conservatives are in a tizzy. While the brief endorses the D.C. Circuit's view that "the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess firearms unrelated to militia operations," it also emphasizes that adopting this view "does not render all laws limiting gun ownership automatically invalid" and insists that the lower court "did not apply the correct standard for evaluating [a] Second Amendment claim." What is the correct standard? Laws limiting gun ownership, the government argues, should be subject to "heightened scrutiny" under which "the practical impact of the challenged restriction" gets balanced against "the strength of the government's interest in enforcement of the relevant restriction." According to the Bush administration, "important regulatory interests are typically sufficient to justify reasonable restrictions." Because the lower court did not consider the D.C. law using this standard, the solicitor general argues, the case should be sent back for further consideration.

This is a pretty weak conception of a constitutional right. You can't imagine subjecting, say, the First Amendment to such a test. It would be laughable for the court to permit--or the executive branch to advocate--the abridgment of press or religious freedoms whenever the government's interest in restricting them served an "important regulatory interest" and therefore constituted a "reasonable restriction." . . .

Ben supports this increased flexibility with the Second Amendment because as he puts it: "Whatever conception the founders may have had of the amendment, they didn't have to think about situations like Virginia Tech, and they did not have inner-city gun crime." I suppose that my research has convinced me that no matter how well meaning gun free zones such as Virginia Tech might be, they have had unintended consequences -- that they encourage attacks and make them more successful. That said, and I appreciate his well meaning concerns, it is hard for me to see how the trade-offs that government faces with the Second Amendment could be different from say the First or the Fourth that also refers to "the right of the people." I thought that Ben had it right last year when he wrote that rather than eviscerating the constitution by selectively picking the parts that we agree or disagree with he wrote that it should simply be repealed or rewritten if we disagreed with it. See also this by Ben from last year. I particularly respect this position and admire people who take it because it must be very difficult for someone who supports gun control to take. The reason is simple: given how hard it is to alter the Constitution, accepting this argument means accepting strict limits on gun control.

Here is one question: if the costs of guns are so large, why do you have to have a lower level of scrutiny? If the costs are so high, won't you be able to meet the higher level of scrutiny?

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Excellent WSJ Editorial on the DOJ brief in the DC Gun Ban Case

The WSJ weighs in on the DOJ gun ban brief and tries to explain what happened:

So why would his own Solicitor General do this? The speculation in legal circles is that Mr. Clement is trying to offer an argument that might attract the support of Anthony Kennedy, the protean Justice who is often the Court's swing vote. But this is what we mean by "too clever by half." Justice Kennedy would be hard-pressed to deny that the Second Amendment is an individual right, given his support in so many other cases for the right to privacy and other rights that aren't even expressly mentioned in the Constitution. No less a left-wing scholar than Laurence Tribe has come around to the view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right for this very reason. Mr. Clement is offering a needless fudge.

The D.C. Circuit's opinion in Heller is forceful, clearly reasoned and Constitutionally sound. By supporting that decision and urging the Supreme Court to validate it, the Bush Administration had the opportunity to help the Court see its way to a historic judgment. Instead, it has pulled a legal Katrina, ineptly declining even to take a clear view of whether Mr. Heller's rights had been violated. It dodges that call by recommending that the case be remanded back to the lower courts for reconsideration.

The SG's blundering brief only increases the odds of another inscrutable High Court split decision, with Justice Kennedy standing alone in the middle with his balancing scales, and the lower courts left free to disregard or reinterpret what could have been a landmark case. Is anybody still awake at the White House?

Thanks to Gus Cotey for sending me this link.

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Man uses gun to protect himself against wife who is trying to run him over with her car

The story can be found here:

LIMA, Ohio — After 2.5 hours of deliberations, a jury acquitted a man Wednesday of criminal charges in the shooting of his estranged wife in a motel parking lot.

Adrian D. Banks, 44, of Lima, was on trial on the charge of felonious assault with a gun. The acquittal came after a two-day trial. He was accused of shooting his now-ex-wife, Tamara S. Banks, then 39, in the parking lot of Knights Inn on Elida Road. The shooting took place at 1:45 a.m. May 13.

He faced up to 11 years in prison on the charge.

Banks said he acted in self-defense by firing a handgun at his wife as she tried to run him down with her car. She was shot in the leg.

Assistant Allen County Prosecutor Dan Berry argued during the trial that Banks was out to get his wife and showed up at the Knights Inn on Elida Road to get her. Berry said it was no coincidence that Banks ran into his wife several times that day including at a motel on the opposite side of town from his home. . . . .


Sorry, never mind, the case of children's vaccines

The hysteria about mercury in childhood vaccines went on despite "reams of scientific studies," but the pressure of lawsuits forced pharmaceutical companies to change how they make vaccines. Now a new TV drama is continuing the crusade, but I found this interesting:

For the last decade some parents and advocates for autistic children have championed the theory that a mercury-based vaccine preservative called thimerosal, developed in the late 1920s and used in many childhood vaccines until about seven years ago, is a primary cause of autism in young children.

Autism often is diagnosed in children between their first and fourth years, during the time that many children begin receiving regular rounds of vaccinations.

But reams of scientific studies by the leading American health authorities have failed to establish a causal link between the preservative and autism. Since the preservative was largely removed from childhood vaccines in 2001, autism rates have not declined. . . .

And people wonder why the pharmaceutical is under siege.

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Clinton campaign tactics

John Fund writes this at the WSJ's Political Diary:

Mr. Obama is indeed frustrated by the attacks on his character, as he made clear to David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network. What peeves him most are mysterious emails circulating among voters that claim he is actually a Muslim and has sympathy with the ideas of the radical Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam. Mr. Obama says the charges are preposterous.

"We have no way of tracing where these emails come from, but what I know is they come in waves, and they somehow appear magically wherever the next primary or caucus is, although they're also being distributed all across the country," he told Mr. Brody. "But the volume increases as we get closer to particular elections. That indicates to me that this is something that is being used to try to raise doubts or suspicions about my candidacy." . . .

More on the Clinton campaign can be found here, where Ed Schultz accuses Clinton of lying. Obama pretty much says the same thing here, where he says Clinton "was making things up."

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One boy who I predict is going to be a hunter

I had a friend who once claimed that he could only eat rabbit and lion meat, but I take this story a little more seriously:

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A 6-year-old Plainville, Conn., boy is suffering from a rare food allergy and deer meat is the only solid protein the boy can stomach, according to his family.

Timmy Armstrong has eosinophilic esophagitis, a condition in which food allergies trigger an intense inflammation of the esophagus, according to a report from WTNH News Channel 8. . . .



Debate over Handguns in Canada

Canadian newspapers come out against the big pushing going on up there to ban handguns:

1) The Ottawa Citizen - 1/22/2008 - PAGE: A10
Gunning for easy answers
"There's no doubting the sincerity of his grief and anger. Indeed, outrage is an appropriate response when people kill, especially when they kill people they've never met out of indifference to human life. But outrage isn't a solution. It's an emotion that leads people to assign blame, as quickly and loudly as possible. Outraged people need rallying cries, and rallying cries must be short and simple.

But the social factors that create crime are not simple. A ban on all handguns would certainly not end gun crime. It wouldn't root out violence, or alter gang behaviour, or topple the markets in illegal drugs and weapons. . . . ."

2) National Post - 1/22/2008 PAGE: A14
Handgun bans don't work
"If restricting ownership of handguns among ordinary law-abiding citizens had a positive impact on crime, our existing laws would already have produced the benefits. Since 1934, anyone wanting to own a pistol in Canada has had to be registered with the RCMP or the federal gun registry. The application process is long and arduous. The fact that almost no registered handgun owner ever commits murder or other forms of violent crime in Canada (one of the recent Toronto shootings being a noteworthy exception) is a testament to the thoroughness of the background checks.

On top of that, since the early 1990s, Canada's 500,000 or so handgun owners have had to have police approval to move their guns from their homes, and even then may only move them under the strictest of conditions. Typically, owners must lock their guns in a tamper-resistant case, which must further be locked in the trunks of their cars. Then they must drive directly from their homes to an approved shooting range and back, making no stops along the way -- even for gas or a restroom break."

3) The Toronto Sun - 1/22/2008 - PAGE: 6 - By MARK BONOKOSKI
Despite what Mayor Miller says, a ban on handguns would do little to quell gun violence in this city -- just look to the U.K. for proof
. . .
The following year -- in 1997 -- the British Parliament passed a law banning the outright ownership of handguns.

Two years after those weapons were banned, a report by the Centre for Defence Studies at London's prestigious King College indicated the use of handguns in crime rose 40% in Great Britain -- from 2,648 incidents in 1997-98 to 3,685 incidents in 1999-2000 -- and concluded that the ban served to only target legitimate gun owners, and did absolutely nothing to target criminals.

And the problem, according to the latest figures, is worsening.

In what was cited as the "stark truth about the battle against gun crime" in Britain's major cities, gunshot murders in 2006 rose 6%, and gunshot injuries rose 10%, totalling out at 958 victims -- all of which represented a 20% overall increase in handgun shootings since the statistics were first compiled two years into the handgun ban. . . .

At least this is progress when even the Toronto newspapers are opposing the ban. On the other hand, the NDP came out for the ban.

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KTLK with Jason Lewis

I will be on KTLK in Minneapolis with Jason Lewis at 6:05 CST, probably for the entire hour.

UPDATE: You can listen to the interview with Jason here.


DC lawsuit against gun companies is dismissed

The Second Amendment Foundation released this press release:

The Second Amendment Foundation today applauded the unanimous ruling by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals that dismissed a lawsuit against 25 gun manufacturers filed by the district and families of nine gun crime victims in the city.

The lawsuit was filed in January 2000, but according to the opinion written by Associate Judge Michael William Farrell, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 required the court to dismiss the case.

SAF founder Alan Gottlieb said the ruling was proper, and recalled that it was municipal lawsuits like this which led to passage of the federal legislation in the first place. At one time, several cities filed a string of junk lawsuits against gun makers, and SAF actually filed counter suits against big city mayors who launched the legal attack. SAF was not a participant in this litigation. . . .

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Fred Thompson Drops Out of Race

The BBC is reporting:

Former US Senator Fred Thompson has withdrawn from the Republican presidential race, after a string of poor finishes in early voting rounds.

"I have withdrawn my candidacy... I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort," he said in a short statement. . . .

John Fund, writing in WSJ's Political Diary, as usual has very insightful insights on the entire campaign:

Fred Thompson spotted an opening in the field of Republicans candidates last spring: a yearning for an uncomplicated Reaganite who would unite all wings of the party and take the fight to the Democrats with brio. Until late September, Mr. Thompson actually led national polls among GOP voters. But the seeds of his downfall had already been planted.

His first mistake was not fully realizing that in entering the race so late, he would have trouble building the infrastructure necessary for a modern campaign. The best talent had already been snapped up by other candidates. Mr. Thompson ended up hiring a corporate manager to run his campaign. While a good organizer, the man had never run a political effort of any size, and the resulting confusion cost the campaign precious momentum and money. New leadership wasn't installed until just before Mr. Thompson formally entered the race after Labor Day.

The former Tennessee Senator's second mistake was making it too easy for reporters to paint him as a lazy, disinterested candidate. His campaign committed enough unnecessary gaffes to feed that story line (such as speaking for only five minutes before an enthusiastic crowd of Florida Republicans last October) and the perception set in among many supporters that they were backing a walking horse, not a warhorse.

Lastly, the candidate's theme that he was the "Consistent Conservative" in the race was developed too late and could not be sufficiently exploited because of a lack of money. When Mr. Thompson finally did hit his stride in December, he became a good candidate who performed memorably in recent debates. But, by then, his potential audience had already drifted away to other candidates who looked like they had a better chance of winning.

Mr. Thompson intends to remain active in politics and public affairs, although he has flatly ruled out any plans to serve in someone else's administration. Don't be surprised to find him returning to the airwaves he left just a few months ago -- but this time with much higher name-recognition as a political figure.

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Even more gun control laws being pushed in Virginia after Virginia Tech Attack

Another law may be passed after VT that would not have stopped the attack if had been in effect prior to the attack:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Survivors and families of the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings faced off Monday against gun-rights advocates over a bill that would prevent criminals and the mentally ill from buying firearms at gun shows.

About 100 supporters of the measure lay on the Capitol lawn to honor the victims of gun violence, as about 200 opponents stood nearby, holding signs that read, "Here Lie Disarmed Victims." . . .

Why don't they push to end the gun free zones that made the attack possible? A typical example of how one regulation leads to yet more regulations.

Thanks again to Rich for sending this link to me.


2007 Coldest Year Since 1998?

The final numbers will reportedly be out in March, but the initial information makes it look as if 2007 will be the coldest in a decade. So much for the claim that "There is a 60 percent probability that 2007 will be as warm or warmer than the current warmest year, 1998." [Note: it was found later last year that the warmest year in the US was 1934.] Of course, as noted here earlier, 100 prominent scientists recently released a letter saying that "there has been no net global warming since 1998." See also here for a similar comment by someone else. Of course, for a list of 400 scientists who dispute that any significant temperature changes are due to man please see this.

Meanwhile Sweden is taking the lead in silliness:

A Swedish university has received $590,000 in research funds to measure the greenhouse gases released when cows belch.

About 20 cows will participate in the project run by the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, about 40 miles north of Stockholm, officials said Monday.

Cattle release methane, a greenhouse gas believed to contribute to global warming, when they digest their food. Researchers believe the level of methane released depends on the type of food the eat. . . .

Sonya Jones has a note about the craziness that is gripping state legislatures over this issue.


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Bill to let concealed handguns in places that served alcohol in Tennessee

A debate is being stirred up over cutting back on gun free zones in Tennessee:

The latest example of this pro-gun mindset is a proposal in the legislature to allow people with handgun-carry permits to carry guns into establishments that sell alcohol. The bill would allow a gun to be carried into the place as long as the person with the gun is not consuming alcohol and as long as the owner of the establishment has not banned firearms and has not posted a sign saying no guns are allowed.
The Senate passed the bill 24-6.
When assessing all the places where an ounce of public safety should be considered, barrooms would be one of the last places where any sober soul would allow guns to be carried. But here's a move afoot in the legislature saying it makes perfect sense to allow people to pack heat in saloons.
Proponents of the bill say it's all about self-defense, with a litany of scenarios where it would be a good idea to have a pistol handy. Some recount real-life situations where, by gosh, if only someone had a gun they could have stopped this bad thing from happening, naturally assuming the shooter would always make perfect decisions and have perfect aim, just like in the comic books. Or they think of all the "what-if" situations, like what if a bad guy is going to throw the prom queen on a railroad track and wouldn't it be great if somebody had a gun to shoot the bad guy down before a train came roaring by. So we need a law. . . .

1) Name some examples where a concealed handgun permit holder has harmed others in such a place. (I can think of one minor example.)
2) "Some recount real-life situations" -- well, I can give you lots of examples, and when this happens it is amazing how infrequently permit holders have actually had to fire their weapon to stop the attack. The problem is that these "gun free zones" attract attacks.

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Political balance at Princeton

Generally, Princeton isn't known for being particularly extreme leftwing politically (despite people such as Paul Krugman), many other more extreme schools come readily to mind. Yet, it is not too surprising that:

All Princeton faculty members who have given to 2008 presidential candidates so far have donated to Democrats, according to federal records of donations to presidential campaigns from Princeton University employees. . . .

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How things have changed over people's reactions in the South to the Confederate Flag

John Fund at the WSJ as an interesting contrast between Thompson and Huckabee over the Confederate flag:

Mike Huckabee tried his best to expand beyond his evangelical base in South Carolina and appeal to what his campaign called "Joe Six Pack" voters. Mr. Huckabee was the only candidate to pander to devotees of the Confederate flag, telling crowds that outsiders should leave the banner flag, now displayed in a corner of the grounds of the state capitol, alone: "If somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell 'em what to do with the pole, that's what we'd do." Contrast that with the comments of Mr. Huckabee's fellow Southerner Fred Thompson: "For a great many Americans, [the flag] is a symbol of racism. I'm glad people have made a decision not to display it . . . in a state capitol." . . .

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150+ Critically ill Canadian patients rushed to U.S.

Well, at least Canadians will oppose the US adopting an even larger role for government in our health care system:

More than 150 critically ill Canadians – many with life-threatening cerebral hemorrhages – have been rushed to the United States since the spring of 2006 because they could not obtain intensive-care beds here.

Before patients with bleeding in or outside the brain have been whisked through U.S. operating-room doors, some have languished for as long as eight hours in Canadian emergency wards while health-care workers scrambled to locate care.

The waits, in some instances, have had devastating consequences.

“There have been very serious health-care problems that have arisen in neurosurgical patients because of the lack of ability to attain timely transport to expert neurosurgical centres in Ontario,” said R. Loch Macdonald, chief of the division of neurosurgery at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. Those problems, he said, include “brain injury or brain damage that could have been prevented by earlier treatment.”

Ontario has the worst problem, though it is not alone.


Behind McCain's win in the South Carolina Primary

The backlash to DOJ DC gun ban brief

The Washington Post discusses the reaction to the Bush Administration's brief here:

The Bush administration's position in the case before the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the District of Columbia's ban on handguns has created an unexpected and serious backlash in conservative circles, disappointing gun enthusiasts and creating implications for the presidential campaign.

The government's brief, filed by U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement just hours before the court's deadline Jan. 11, endorses the view that the Second Amendment conveys an individual right to gun ownership, a finding long sought by gun rights activists.

But it also said an appeals court used the wrong standard when it struck down the District's ban on private handgun ownership, and it urged the Supreme Court to return the case to the lower court for review.

If the justices accept that advice when they hear the case in the spring, it could mean additional years of litigation over the controversial Second Amendment and could undo a ruling that was a seminal victory for gun rights enthusiasts. . . .

The piece notes that Senator Fred Thompson spoke out against the brief, though it doesn't make clear that he was the only one to do so.

In a debate last week in Nevada, all three major Democratic candidates pledged their fealty to the Second Amendment -- "People have a right to bear arms," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) said -- although none mentioned the District's handgun ban.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, it would seem that it was the moderator's job to put the question squarely to them.

Here was my earlier take on all this.

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Interview on WJR sometime between 8 and 9 PM Sunday

I will be interviewed for about 20 minutes to discuss the DC gun ban case before the Supreme Court.


New Texas Gun Laws Raise Concerns

Two new Texas laws stir up opposition:

The state's new castle law has grabbed the spotlight. But some say a lesser-known gun law, which also took effect in September, could have greater consequences.

The law allows Texans to carry guns in their cars, even without a concealed handgun license. As long you meet the law's other requirements – such as not being a gang member, refraining from criminal acts and keeping the gun out of sight – you can pack heat in your glove box.

"Castle is just kind of yawn," said Alice Tripp, legislative director for the Texas State Rifle Association. Texans have always enjoyed robust rights of self-defense. But the gun carrying law "is dramatic," she said.

Nicknamed the "Carjacking Law" by some, it is designed in part to give law-abiding drivers the right to carry a gun for protection.

But Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins worries that criminals may benefit most. He says the law, which also allows people to carry guns from their homes to their cars, has created a loophole that a defense lawyer could drive an armored tank through. . . .

Each new law seems to generate a lot of fear, but I assume that it gets harder and harder to generate a lot of opposition as the predictions prove to be wrong.

Thanks to Scott Davis for sending this link to me.

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Some environmentalists won't even let some animals get killed to save others

There are a lot of boom and bust cycles for animals. They expand until they get to large for their food supply and then crash. In this case, it appears as if the wolves have expanded to much relative to the moose population. Even so, the Alaskan Wildlife Alliance won't put up with killing any of the wolves.

Wolf numbers seem to be rising in the wilderness around Aniak, McGrath and other villages, and the task once carried out by young Native men should be employed again to help moose populations recover, said Greg Roczicka, natural resources director with Orutsaramuit Native Council in Bethel.

The tribal government and a Fish and Game advisory committee along the central Kuskokwim River have submitted separate proposals asking the Board of Game to overturn regulations outlawing the practice.

The Game Board is scheduled to consider the proposals at upcoming meetings later this month and in February.

At least one group plans to speak against the idea.

"We're fervently opposed to it," said John Toppenberg, director with Alaska Wildlife Alliance. "It's been illegal in Alaska for a long time and deservedly so. It's a Stone Age concept of wildlife management and has no place as a management tool for civilized people. It's just barbaric." . . .

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Democratic Presidential Candidates Talk About Guns

In the debate in Nevada the other night, Tim Russert asked the democrats whether they supported licensing for guns. Clinton and Obama said it would they weren't going to push for licensing, but their reason was that it would generate too much political opposition -- implying that if the opposition went down, they would push for it. Edwards said clearly that he was against licensing.

Hillary Clinton though said that "I believe in the Second Amendment. . . . But I also believe that we can common-sensically approach this." If Russert was at all on his feet, he would have asked her whether she thought that the DC gun ban, soon to be going before the U.S. Supreme Court was unconstitutional. It would be a tough question. If she said it was unconstitutional, she would get a lot of Dems upset. If it was constitutional, the question is what would be the benefit from saying you believe in the Second Amendment?

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So how will they catch cheating on tests now?

Has it just become nearly impossible to catch cheaters on tests? Will students have to have their eyes examined before taking the SATs? Foxnews has the following:

Scientists have taken the first step toward creating digital contact lenses that can zoom in on distant objects and display useful facts. For the first time, engineers have installed an electronic circuit and lights on a regular contact lens.

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Concealed Carry Permit Holder Successfully Defends Himself Against Four Men

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Orlando victim turns gun on 4 robbers
A private investigator fires his gun as the 4 men run off with his cell phone and wallet.

Henry Pierson Curtis | Sentinel Staff Writer
January 18, 2008

An armed citizen surprised four men who robbed him at gunpoint last week.

After being ordered to his knees, Russel Olofson warned the men that "they should think about it," according to an Orlando police report released this week.

A private investigator with military training, Olofson, 24, told police the robbers snatched his cell phone and a wallet containing his concealed-weapon permit shortly before 10 p.m. Friday outside Ridge Club Apartments.

After the robbers took his items, Olofson stood up, drew his Springfield XD sub-compact 9 mm handgun "and fired two rounds toward male #1 with the silver handgun, possibly striking him," the report states. "Males #2, #3, and #4 then ran southeast . . . and male #1 ran northeast . . ."

A search by police quickly turned up a pistol likely used in the holdup, the report said. . . .

Thanks to Todd P for sending this link to me.

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Black man with permitted concealed handgun successfully defends himself against two racists

Those interested can read the entire story here:

No murder charge in racially fueled road rage incident
By Paula McMahon | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
January 17, 2008

No murder charges will be filed in a racially motivated road rage incident last month that left one of the aggressors dead at the hands of the victim, Broward prosecutors said Wednesday.

Broward Sheriff's detectives initially arrested Steven Lonzisero, 43, of Cooper City, on a charge of felony murder. He is one of two white men who investigators say confronted a black driver on Dec. 13 in Deerfield Beach, shouting racial slurs and trying to drag him from his vehicle.

Hygens Labidou, 49, of Wellington, pulled a gun and shot his two attackers, police said. Lonzisero survived, but his accomplice, Edward Borowsky, 28, of Cooper City, died four days later.

Investigators determined that Labidou, who has a concealed weapons permit, acted in self-defense and faces no legal jeopardy. . . .

The afternoon incident started when Lonzisero and Borowsky objected to Labidou's driving and they blocked in his truck near Powerline and Green roads. The two men banged on Labidou's truck and shouted "N-----, get out of the truck," according to police reports. Borowsky wielded a knife and Lonzisero kicked the truck door aggressively and ordered Labidou out, witnesses told detectives. . . . .

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Teenage Stops three men who had forced their way into his home

Vicksburg, Mississippi (01/16/08):

Bruce, Flaggs and Bass had forced their way inside at about 7 p.m. after inquiring about purchasing shoes, authorities said. The adults were not home and the teen and other juveniles told authorities the intruders started bagging up merchandise. The teen, who has not been identified, shot Bruce once with a .410 shotgun. After being wounded, Bruce stumbled onto the lawn, where he was found dead when deputies arrived. The three other men fled in a white 2007 Hyundai Sonata, which had no tag.

That car was found abandoned in Jackson Thursday and brought to the Warren County Sheriff's Department for forensic evidence, Pace said.

He has said the investigation details will be presented to the district attorney, but it appeared the teen's action -- Warren County's only shooting death of 2007 -- will be deemed justifiable. . . . .


Twice in Three Days Elderly Store Owners Stop Robberies

Here is the story from the Buffalo News:

Store owner shoots would-be robber

Updated: 01/17/08 6:56 AM

73-year-old West Side store owner foiled a robbery Wednesday evening when he pulled out a 9 mm handgun and shot the wouldbe bandit.

It was the second time in three days an elderly city store owner fired a gun during a robbery attempt. The 78-year-old owner of Bocce Club Pizzeria on Clinton Street chased away two would-be robbers Monday night with a warning shot.

Police said Wednesday’s incident occurred when Shaun M. Ford, 30, of Linwood Avenue, North Tonawanda, targeted the West Side Market at 255 Carolina St. just before 7 p.m. and demanded money from owner Ali Abdulla. Ford was wearing a protective mask used in paint-ball and was armed with a rifle, according to Central District Lt. David S. Stabler, head of the investigation.

Ford followed Abdulla behind the counter, continuing to demand money and pointing the rifle at him, police said. Abdulla then pulled out his licensed handgun and fired as many as two shots at Ford, striking him once in the leg, police said.

Ford fled the store, dropping the rifle and his mask and fell to the sidewalk just outside the store’s front door, where he cried for help, police said. . . .


Democrats and Hispanics

Is there some fraying of the Democrat's coalition? John Fund at WSJ's Political Diary writes:

Sergio Bendixen, one of Hillary Clinton's pollsters, claims Hispanics back his candidate because of her stand on health care and affinity for the Clinton presidency of the 1990s. He told reporters that he viewed Hispanics as Mrs. Clinton's "firewall" against an assault by Barack Obama. "The Hispanic voter -- and I want to say this very carefully -- has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates," he added.

That comment upset Team Obama, which quickly jumped at the opportunity to tarnish the Clinton image after Clinton allies in the Nevada teachers union sued to close down polling places set up in Las Vegas casinos to allow Hispanic casino workers easily to participate in that state's caucus this Saturday. A federal judge threw the suit out yesterday, but the incident left a bad taste in the mouths of many Hispanics.

Yesterday, Obama-supporting labor unions began airing Spanish-language radio ads attacking the lawsuit in Nevada. "Hillary Clinton does not respect our people," the ad says in Spanish. "Hillary Clinton is shameless. But Sen. Obama is defending our right to vote. Sen. Obama wants our votes. He respects our votes, our community, and our people."

Clinton supporter Dolores Huerta, an Hispanic labor leader, denounced the ad as "pathetic" and claimed it was an attempt to conceal Mr. Obama's total lack of support in the Hispanic community. "I have yet to find even one worker -- a Latino worker -- who is supporting Barack Obama," she told Politico.com.

Nevada votes tomorrow, and estimates suggest that 45% of casino workers on the Las Vegas Strip are Hispanic. We'll be able to see just how accurate Ms. Huerta is in her prediction by looking at the results from caucus sites in those casinos.

If you believe Hillary's pollster, Obama winning the nomination could alienate Hispanics. If one listens to the traded charges over racism in the campaign, a Hillary win might alienate some blacks. I wonder if this would almost ensure that if Hillary wins the nomination, she would have to pick Obama for the VP position. If Obama wins, would he have to pick RIchardson? You might have heard it here first: Obama/Richardson for the Dems.

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The Changing cost of making decisions

There are lots of costs in decision making. Most focus on the costs of information, but another important factor is the amount of time that we have to make decisions. Today's WSJ references an example of this last point and the obvious consequence of making it more costly to make decisions:

I have referred several times before in this space to Tony Blair's observation, after resigning last year, that the pressure of 24/7 electronic media has drastically cut the time available to make judgments, and so the quality of decisions has declined. The missed call in New Hampshire is the first sharp demonstration of this truth for journalism itself. Odds are that nothing will be learned from this because no one has time to think about it.

Of course, there are other costs of making decisions that have been declining. For example, it is easier to quickly get a hold of the people who you need to talk to (cell phones) and quickly search files and databases (computers).


Thompson on the issues

From the American Thinker:

Fred Thompson is perhaps the most substantative candidate to run for President in many years. He has taken the time to think about what should be the relationship between the government and the governed. He has framed his thoughts within the context of a set of bedrock conservative principles that animates his thinking and generates sound ideas about where America should be headed.

There is a heft to Thompson, a seriousness of purpose that none of the other candidates can match. It is most pronounced during the debates where Thompson's answers to questions are more subtle and nuanced than those of his rivals. His sometimes laconic style zings his opponents with brutal accuracy. Often, the candidate will answer a question by stating "Yep" or "Nope" and pause a few seconds to gather his thoughts. What follows is almost always coherent and is informed by years of experience in government.

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Podcast Interview With Michael Bane

Michael Bane's interview with me can be heard here.

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"Professor Wants Right To Carry"

Dorn Peterson, an avid shooter with a valid Virginia concealed-handgun permit, travels to JMU's campus almost every weekday for his job as a physics professor. But he can't bring his gun with him.
I wish that I could understand why there is such strong opposition to even professors carrying concealed handguns on university property. This article provides an example of one professor who would be willing to bear the cost of carrying in order to be able to protect others. It also provides no explicit evidence why people should be fearful of him carrying his gun with him.

He said he favors broader legislation allowing those with concealed-handgun permits to carry guns at colleges and other places, including government office buildings, that aren't specifically outlined in the Virginia laws.

Peterson said he would rather see a legislator vote on the matter rather than have an "unelected bureaucrat" make the decision for him.

"The president of the university is unelected," Peterson said. "Why should he be able to override the legislature?"

Peterson said that law-abiding citizens should have the right to defend themselves and, in some cases, help minimize shooting sprees like the one at Virginia Tech.

"It helps defend everybody," Peterson said. "If somebody had been prepared and carrying, this guy wouldn't have been able to go around and kill people after he chained the door."

People with the proper firearms training who get a permit are not the ones who shouldn't be allowed to carry guns, he said.

"I understand that people that aren't around guns are upset about the concept, but people that plan ahead and get the training are less likely to commit a crime," said Peterson.

Thanks very much to Scott Davis for sending this link to me.

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Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

From the NRAILA legislative alert:

"Incredibly, the Commission even refused to add language that would exempt the discharge of a firearm for self-defense in campgrounds."

Well, at least bears might not be as attracted to gun free zones as killers are. Though come to think about it, they may begin to learn over time that they have less to worry about so it might have the same impact.

Thanks to Sonya Jones for sending this to me.

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Glenn Harlan Reynolds & Brannon P. Denning Give their take on Heller

To see their take in the Online Companion to the Texas Law Review click here.

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More Romney Flip-flops: Campaign Finance Reform

Here Romney is running for the US Senate in 1994
Here is Romney now.

See this for other information on his views on public financing of campaigns.

See one of my earlier posts here.

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More on Inconsistent Democrats on Vote Fraud Issues

John Fund as a piece on Democrats being inconsistent about voting rules in the WSJ:

Both Democrats and Republicans are good at practicing hypocrisy when they need to. But it's still breathtaking to see how some Democrats ignore that it was only last week they argued before the Supreme Court that an Indiana law requiring voters show ID at the polls would reduce voter turnout and disenfranchise minorities. Nevada allies of Hillary Clinton have just sued to shut down several caucus sites inside casinos along the Las Vegas Strip, potentially disenfranchising thousands of Hispanic or black shift workers who couldn't otherwise attend the 11:30 a.m. caucus this coming Saturday.

D. Taylor, the president of the Culinary Workers Union that represents many casino workers, notes that legal complaint was filed just two days after his union endorsed Barack Obama. He says the state teachers union, most of whose leadership backs Mrs. Clinton, realized that the Culinary union would be able to use the casino caucuses to better exercise its clout on behalf of Mr. Obama, and used a law firm with Clinton ties to file the suit.

Mr. Taylor exploded after Bill Clinton came out in favor of the lawsuit on Monday, and Hillary Clinton refused to take a stand. "This is the Clinton campaign," he said. "They tried to disenfranchise students in Iowa. Now they're trying to disenfranchise people here in Nevada." He later told the Journal's June Kronholz, "You'd think the Democratic Party elite would disavow this, but the silence has been deafening." (Late Tuesday the Democratic National Committee quietly filed a motion supporting the Nevada party's rules.) . . .

Meanwhile, Democrats will also be asking for identification at caucus sites. The nine at-large casino sites are meant only for workers who can prove they are employed within 2.5 miles of the Strip, an area that Barack Obama notes includes thousands "working at McDonald's" as well as gas stations and bodegas.

Democratic leaders insist workers need only show an employee badge. If they don't have one, a party spokeswoman lamely says "we'll somehow accommodate them." The Las Vegas Review Journal notes "some Strip workers will have no alternative but to provide photo identification." For a party that compares photo ID requirements to Jim Crow poll taxes, even when state governments distribute the IDs for free, the irony is rich.

And it doesn't stop there. Opponents of the Indiana photo ID law used Faye Buis-Ewing, a 72-year-old retiree who had trouble getting a state-issued ID, as a poster child for how the law would block voters. Then it was learned Ms. Buis-Ewing lives most of the year in Florida, has claimed residency there, and was illegally registered to vote in both states. Confronted with these facts, Ms. Buis-Ewing was unrepentant. "I feel like I'm a victim here," she told the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette. "I never intended to do anything wrong. I know a lot of people in Florida in this same situation." . . .

Thanks to Kimberly Loontjer for the link.


Another Zero Tolerance Case at a Public School Gone Wrong

Paul Huebl discusses another zero tolerance outrage at a public school:

GRAYSLAKE, Il. Christopher Berger, 18, is an honor student at Grayslake Central High School who faces an adult criminal record for the rest of his life. Why you ask? It seems that school officials found the lad’s jacket on school property, searched the pockets and found a small multi-tool that contained a knife blade. Police were called and in addition to school punishment Berger was charged with Reckless Conduct and now needs a lawyer. . . .


What do 911 operators advise people to do when they are confronted by criminals?

You can't always run away from the criminal. In fact, if the 911 operator knew about the National Crime Victimization Survey showing that particularly for women running away is not particularly effective, I don't think that the operator would so automatically give this advice. So what is the victim supposed to do now?

As he heard his locked bedroom door rattling as the burglar tried his screwdriver to open it, Six, clutching an aluminum baseball bat, told a 911 operator he couldn’t exit through his window as she had advised, AZCentral.com reported. . . .

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Is Romney the Weakest of the Possibly Republican Nominees?

If you believe the averages at Real Clear Politics, Romney is the weakest possible nominee. Giuliani, Huckabee, and Thompson are virtually the same. One thing that I will say for Thompson is that given he has gotten much less favorable publicity than Giuliani or Huckabee (particularly Huckabee), he might do relatively better than them farther down the road.

Average difference in races between Clinton or Obama and Republican

McCain . . . . +3 Percent

Giuliani . . . . -8.8 percent

Huckabee . . -9.3 percent

Thompson . . -9.75 percent

Romney . . . . -13.9 percent

Between Clinton and Obama it isn't even close. Obama is a much stronger candidate than Hillary. I haven't figured out the average difference but it looks like about 7 percent on average. Plus every Republican would apparently lose to Obama. One warning with all these numbers is that the general election is a long ways away, but these are big differences.

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Tennessee Whittling Down The Number of Gun Free Zones?

Senate passes bill permitting guns in bars, nightclubs
Thursday, January 17, 2008
By Andy Sher
Nashville Bureau
NASHVILLE -- Tennesseans with gun permits could carry their weapons into nightclubs, bars and restaurants that sell alcohol under a bill that sailed Wednesday through the Senate on a 24-6 vote.

One Senate critic raised the specter that the would-be law might result in Wild West-like saloon shoot-outs.

But the bill's sponsor, Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, argued that similar laws in 34 other states have resulted in no such problems.

"I've had people say that guns and alcohol do not mix, and I will agree that until you look at the facts -- until you understand this issue -- that is certainly an emotional argument," Sen. Jackson said. "But unfortunately, it's an argument that does not carry the day." . . .

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Animal Rights Groups Merge to Fight Hunting

Animal rights groups merging to better fight to end hunting:

The voice of America's anti-hunting forces is trying to become more powerful.

In what the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance is calling a "precisely-calculated effort," the Humane Society of the United States is attempting to consolidate all of the animal rights movement's political power under a single umbrella.

Humane Society director Wayne Pacelle reportedly told one publication that his organization may soon merge with at least three unnamed animal rights organizations.

OK, so if they end hunting deer, what will happen to the deer population? What will happen to the cost of food as farmers have deer eat more of their crops? What will happen to the additional motorists who run into deer?

Meanwhile, Obama "pledges support for Animal Rights."

He said he sponsored a bill to prevent horse slaughter in the Illinois state Senate and has been repeatedly endorsed by the Humane Society. "I think how we treat our animals reflects how we treat each other," he said. "And it's very important that we have a president who is mindful of the cruelty that is perpetrated on animals."
(emphasis added)

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China still doesn't understand the Free Market

Price controls on food simply mean that the resulting shortage will have to be solved in other ways. For example, people who get to the store first will get the food. Also if they can't raise prices, they can lower the quality of food sold (e.g., not throwing out spoiled food as quickly). The article below makes the weird claim that these controls show that Beijing is "serious" about dealing with inflation. If they were serious, a simpler solution would be to control the growth of the money supply.

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- In the latest sign that officials in Beijing are serious about reining in rampant inflation, China tightened controls on food prices Wednesday, requiring producers to seek government approval to implement any price increases.
According to an official Xinhua news report posted on the government's English-language Web site, China's top economic planner announced price controls on a package of products, including grain, edible oil, meat, milk, eggs and liquefied petroleum gas. See Chinese government Web site.
"Major enterprises are required to submit the price-raising scheme to the government for official approval 10 working days before they intend to raise the prices," said the National Development and Reform Commission, or NDRC, in a circular on interim price intervention.
"This NDRC directive is stricter than expected, pointing to escalating inflation pressures in China," wrote Ting Lu, Merrill Lynch's Hong Kong-based economist.
China's inflation rate hit an 11-year high of 6.9% in November. The consumer price index climbed 4.6% in the January-to-November period, exceeding the central bank's official target, which pegs CPI growth in a range up to 3%.
"We think price control will not be very effective as it's hard for the government to guarantee quality and quantity and to avoid shortage. We thus expect the government to increasingly use monetary tightening tools such as rate and [reserve requirement ratio] hikes to tame inflation," Lu said. . . .


Am I missing something here?: I thought that Democrats were supposed to get upset with anything that increased the cost of voting

From John Fund at the WSJ.com's Political Diary:

[Clinton] is scrambling for every possible advantage -- down to having her supporters file lawsuits to close some poling places -- in Nevada's Democratic caucus this coming Saturday.

How is this consistent with Democrat Party rhetoric on voting? We can't even have voter IDs because they might discourage people from voting.

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Thompson first to come out against Bush Adm Brief on DC gun case

Asked his opinion of the Second Amendment and the Solicitor General’s request that the DC Circuit Court remand the appeal back to the trial court for “fact-finding”, the lawyer turned Senator from Tennessee said the Bush Administration was “overlawyering” and stated that he opposed remand and that the case should move forward to the U.S. Supreme Court. . . .

Fred Thompson is the first and only presidential candidate to oppose the Solicitor General's brief that was filed in the DC gun case last Friday. You can read his entire response here.

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Both Romney and McCain have it wrong

Who is right? Should government provide $100 billion to the auto industry as Romney proposes? Should they spend money retraining people to work in "green" industries as McCain proposes? Romney justifies his because of government mandates placed on the industry. What about opposing the government MPG regulations to begin with? Howard Kurtz discusses the quibbling between the Romney and McCain camps here:

Steve Schmidt, a top McCain strategist, attributed yesterday's loss to "Mitt Romney's pandering up in Michigan" by promising what Schmidt called a "$100-billion bailout of the auto industry...Mitt Romney should explain to the rest of the country how he's going to pay for it."

While Romney has proposed a five-year, $20-billion-a-year effort to revitalize the ailing auto industry, the Arizona senator has emphasized worker retraining and research into green technologies. Schmidt would not put a price tag on that but minimized the retraining plan as a consolidation of existing programs.

Here is a suggestion: why have the government pick which industries should be subsidized?

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Update on Oregon School Teacher Carrying Gun

An update on the Oregon public school teacher who wanted to carry her permitted concealed handgun with her to school is here:

Shirley Katz, who teaches at South Medford High School, is seeking to overturn last year's Circuit Court ruling upholding a school district policy that forbids employees from carrying guns on campus. . . .

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Guns Might be Allowed in Public University Parking Lots in Kentucky?

This is a small step in the right direction:

State Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, signed up 44 co-sponsors Tuesday for his bill that would allow people who park on public university property to keep a legally registered gun in their vehicle.

Currently, this can be prohibited by weapons policies set by the state universities. . . .

Disappointingly there is significant opposition from even this small proposal:

Morehead State University President Wayne Andrews said the bill "gives me great concern. I think we need to tread very lightly with the issue of weapons on campus."

Andrews said "if people have weapons on campus, they might use them," endangering the campus community. . . .

It would be nice if they could point to some systematic evidence to justify their concerns, though I suppose the reason they don't is because there isn't any.


The courts are now into determining if something is a "movie"

Because of campaign finance laws the courts are involved in determining whether a movie is a movie or a campaigns ad:

Citizens United had hoped to run the television advertisements in key election states during peak primary season. The court ruling means the group must either keep its ads off the air or attach a disclaimer and disclose its donors.

So do Michael Moore's movies rate being classified as a movie? Is it just that Moore's movies are being released in an odd numbered year? Can he promote it in any way during an election?


NCIS gets it wrong on guns

I normally like NCIS on CBS, but this week was extremely disappointing. This week's show entitled "Tribes" starts off with the absurd claim that "Nearly 30 percent of all gun related deaths are the result of the owners' own weapon."



Has "Global Warming" Ended?

David Whitehouse, the BBC Science Correspondent from 1988-1998 and a Ph.D. in astrophysics, notes that global warming seems to have stalled:

The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 as well as every year since 2001. Global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased. Temperatures across the world are not increasing as they should according to the fundamental theory behind global warming – the greenhouse effect. Something else is happening and it is vital that we find out what or else we may spend hundreds of billions of pounds needlessly.

What needs to be made explicit is that if man-made emissions were important, we should have been seeing some additional increase in temperature over the last decade.

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Amicus briefs were filed in support of the District of Columbia government

For those interested, the Amicus briefs in support of DC's position can be found here.

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Appearing on Radio Shows this Morning

I was on some shows yesterday (Lars Larson was nice enough to have me on his show at 6;20 PM EST). Today I will be on Kirby Wilbur's show out of Seattle on KVI at 10:00 AM EST and G. Gordon Liddy's show at 11 AM EST.

I will be talking about my piece on the DC gun ban case that appeared at NRO yesterday.


Pistol-Packin' Preacher

Preacher who carries a gun at a hospital:

Pistol-Packin' Preacher Serves Hospital, Sheriff
By Joan Elliott, Missourian Feature Writer

He's attired just as one would expect a chaplain to be attired - dress slacks and sport jacket, gold cross in his lapel and a tie boldly emblazoned with a cross and a church. But in his car he carries a gun, a gun permit and a bullet-proof vest since he also is a commissioned law enforcement officer who graduated from the Missouri Sheriff's Academy.

He's Don Covington and for most of his adult life he's merged the two careers with a single goal in mind - to help others.

"People have called me the 'Pistol-Packin' Preacher' and that is the title of the autobiography I'm writing," Covington said. "If I went to a crime scene with an officer as a civilian I'd have to stay in the patrol car. But as a reserve deputy I can help as a backup officer." . . .



New Op-ed: Bad Brief: The Bush DOJ shoots at the Second Amedment

Here is the new op-ed that I have this morning at National Review Online:

A lot of Americans who believe in the right to own guns were very disappointed this weekend. On Friday, the Bush administration’s Justice Department entered into the fray over the District of Columbia’s 1976 handgun ban by filing a brief to the Supreme Court that effectively supports the ban. The administration pays lip service to the notion that the Second Amendment protects gun ownership as an “individual right,” but their brief leaves the term essentially meaningless. . . .

UPDATE: For different perspectives see here and here.

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5 Minute 911 Call by Woman facing stalker

Here is a chilling 911 call to police. THe woman waited 5 minutes, but then had to take things into her own hands and shot the stalker.

Thanks to Brian O'Connor for sending this to me.


Another Review of Freedomnomics

This review by Nathan was somewhat mixed:

I read it because I read Freakonomics, which, like other political (and semi-political) books, I found to be about "half-right," which is to say that a critical reading reduces it to the level of fiction; Freakonomics is opinion mixed in with statistics.

Freedomnomics proved to be exactly what I expected, which is to say, exactly the same but with different opinions. Where Freakonomics contests that Abortion decreased crime, Freedomnomics contests the opposite. Where Freakonomics says you shouldn't trust your Real Estate agent, Freedomnomics suggests otherwise.

I enjoy reading these kinds of books because I do read them through a critical lens, and I enjoy the facts that come out of them. Usually, a critical reading of these books allows the reader to examine the statistics and draw his own conclusions, often completely different than the opinions presented by the author(s).

For example, I learned from Freedomnomics that the "lemon effect" on new automobiles presented in Freakonomics is not true. This makes sense - the idea had long since made very little sense to me, as cars usually have warrantees that transfer with ownership transfers. Though Freedomnomics presented some opinions that seemed unfounded, the facts concerning automobiles (in the form of Kelly Blue Book prices) were also present, and these are indisputable . . .


Kansas Issues 10,000 Concealed Carry Permits

Here is an article from the LJWorld (Lawrence and Douglas County, Kansas), January 14, 2008:

State issues 10,000 permits
Chad Lawhorn

Legislators allowed the Kansas Attorney General’s Office to begin accepting permit applications in July 2006, but licenses weren’t issued until January 2007. A total of 10,567 have been issued through the first week of this month.

Chuck Sexson, director of the concealed carry program for the Attorney General’s Office, said the office was busiest with applications in December 2006 and January 2007, when more than 1,000 were received in both months. But since September, the numbers have leveled off at about 350 or fewer per month. . . .

Here is the county by county data:

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Obama Stimulus Package

Here are the components of Obama's proposal:

1.Cut $250 checks for some 150 million low and middle income workers and send them out. If needed, send out an additional $250 per worker, totaling $500 for these workers

2.Likewise, send $250 to seniors earning under $50,000 as a Social Security supplement, and and prepared to send out a second $250 payment

3.Establish a $10 billion fund to help “responsible” families avoid foreclosure. The money would be given to homeowners who did not lie about their incomes and were “mindful of personal responsibility.”

4.Provides money to state and local governments hardest hit by housing crisis to prevent them from slashing infrastructure and other important state spending

5. Expand unemployment insurance

Can you say Keynesian economics? The problem with this is that the money has to come from someplace else. Obama doesn't want to pay for this with taxes, but then you have to borrow the money. Borrowing takes it away from other uses as much as taxes.

The subprime problem was due to government regulation and point 3 will encourage home buyers to take more risks because they will believe that the government will bail them out.

Point 5 is political and will be pushed to increase the unemployment rate before the election. Never have the Democrats before asked for an extension in benefits with an unemployment rate as low as 5 percent.

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Huckabee Versus Thompson

Look at the difference between the campaigning by Huckabee and Thompson. Thompson raises issues. Huckabee makes bizarre charges about Thompson being "a registered foreign agent, lobbied for foreign countries, was in a law firm that did lobbying work for Libya." Huckabee knows that large law firms handle a lot of clients, but that is a long way from any particular lawyer supporting a client. One of the nice things about the South Carolina and New Hampshire debates on Fox News was that they got into the issues, and Fred Thompson came out well in both debates. Huckabee apparently doesn't think that he can compete on the issues. Here is Fred Thompson again on the issues.

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Infamous Lancet Study Funded by George Soros

Right before the 2006 general election, the Lancet came out with a study claiming that 650,000 Iraqis had died in the war and it aftermath. The study got worldwide attention, much of it unquestioning. Well, it turns out that almost half the study was "funded by the antiwar billionaire George Soros." My problem isn't the funding, my problem is that the source of the funding wasn't revealed when the study came out immediately before the election. What is even worse is that this fact is not considered newsworthy by most of the media now. A Google news search on the term "Lancet Soros study 650,000" got only six news hits (The Times of London, The Spectator in the UK, The New York Post, Fox News, Wired News, and one other minor source). Trying "Soros Lancet Iraq" got only 15 news hits, but some of those were columnists and not news stories.

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Permit Holder Defends Himself Against Three Armed Attackers

Here is a news report that was filed on January 6th from Orange County, Florida. The permit holder "found himself staring down the barrel of someone else's gun." "I felt that my life was endanger." "If I hadn't had my gun, I was convinced that I could have possibly died."

Thanks very much to Todd P for sending me the link for this.

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Yes, you read this headline correctly. An email from Joe Olson at Hamline University School of Law alerted me to this problem. David Hardy briefly discusses the Bush Administration's brief on the Parker/Heller case. Here is my question: if it is merely a question of reasonable regulations, why put the second amendment in the bill of rights? Why use the term "shall not be infringed"? The DOJ brief mentions the phrase "shall not be infringed" once when it quotes the amendment. Here is my question: what would the writers of the Second Amendment have had to write if they were serious that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"? A copy of DOJ's brief can be seen here.

There are numerous factual mistakes in the brief. For example, on page 21 they refer to the "current federal machine gun ban." There is no such ban. Some 250,000 machine guns are legally owned in the US. The discussion of what is meant by the term "well regulated" on page 22 is not what I know the term to mean. As I understood the term at the amendment was written meant "well disciplined," but the DOJ brief wants to use the current usage of the term.

What is particularly disappointing is the excellent research that the DOJ had done on the Second Amendment just a few years earlier. Thanks to John McGregor for reminding me to post a link to this.

The Washington Post's take on the DOJ brief can be read here.

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Movie shows multiple victim shooting stopped by person with gun

This movie appears to definitely have its problems. The protagonist, Christian Slater, stops the killer, but apparently he also had "thoughts of terminating his co-workers." Why can't he just be a permit holder who saves lives? Anyway, for those interested, please go here.


When to joke and when to give serious answers?

I guess that I frequently take things too seriously, but while Huckabee is strong on protecting people's right to own guns, he rarely seems to explain the reasons well. I am not sure what to make of the answer below. Is it funny? Yes, I guess so. But in the discussion below will listeners come away thinking that there is a real problem by not having a one-gun-a-month rule? I fear that is the case. Can't there be some kernel of education in the discussion? This is from Huckabee's appearance on the Colbert Report:

COLBERT: South Carolina gun laws are so loose that you can go into any gun shop and buy as many handguns as you want. I mean 200 of them and then just ship them up here to New York and sell them illegally on the street and raise some serious scratch.

HUCKABEE: How do you think I've financed my campaign for the past 11 months?

COLBERT: Smart man!

COLBERT: Pick me up a couple?

HUCKABEE: On their way. What kind would you like?

COLBERT: Something with the serial numbers scratched off.

HUCKABEE: Consider it done.

COLBERT: I know you're a man of your word. You would never rescind your offer of making me vice president no matter how well you do in the campaign. But I'm going to give you one more chance to get out of it. Just ask me, I'll say no ...

HUCKABEE: Steven, be my running mate?

COLBERT: Yes!!!!!!!!!

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More signs showing global warming: Snow in the Middle East

The first snow in a hundred years in Baghdad is a sign of global warming:

Delju said climate change, blamed mainly on human emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, would bring bigger swings in the weather alongside a warming trend that will mean more heatwaves, droughts, floods and rising seas.

"The more frequent occurrence of extreme events all over the world -- floods in Australia, heavy snowfall in the Middle East -- can also be signs of warming," he said.

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NORC Survey data on Gun Ownership and Support for Gun Control is at Odds with Other Survey data

For a critical discussion on a recent Reuters story on gun ownership see here.

Thanks to Jack Anderson for sending this link to me.


Could Fred Thompson be the Last Conservative Standing?

Thompson did extremely well in the Fox News debate last night (of course, I thought that he has done very well in terms of his positions in all the debates). Frank Luntz's focus group of undecided voters overwhelmingly gave the nod to Senator Thompson. Here is a YouTube clip from the debate that gives one a good idea of how Thompson did.

Given Romney's stands on everything from global warming to the assault weapons ban as well as his changed positions on many other issues, I am not sure how conservative he is, but I think that Romney has backed himself into a corner. By concentrating all his effort on Michigan, he has raised the stakes dramatically. The problem that he faces is that Michigan allows non-Republicans to vote in their primary and that is compounded by the fact that there is no Democratic race (Hillary Clinton is the only one on the Democratic ballot). Independents and Democrats who have no reason to vote in the Democratic primary will feel tempted to wreak all sorts of havoc on the Republicans by voting for McCain or even Huckabee (of course, some of these other voters probably actually like McCain). My bottom line is that I think that this will be a tough race for Romney to win, and I think that he may drop out of the race if he loses in Michigan. Given that I don't think that even their current positions would classify McCain and Huckabee as conservatives on economic issues, that would leave Thompson and Giuliani. Giuliani's strategy seems to depend a lot on what happens in Florida (his staff is being asked to work without pay because of money problems). Of course, all this might depend upon Thompson doing well in South Carolina. That is surely possible given how people in South Carolina appreciated his debate performance on Thursday.

UPDATE: The Democratic DailyKos is advising Democrats in Michigan to vote for Romney. They apparently believe that McCain would be the strongest Republican nominee.

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More People think that Women's Suffrage Helps Explain the Growth of Government

At least one other person beside Ann Coulter thinks that my research that the growth in government is attributable to women's suffrage is plausible. Ann Coulter was very nice bringing up the issue many times this past year. Again, the research doesn't say that this is good or bad, but simply a positive statement about what happened.


The "Unintended consequences" of Animal Rights Legislation

Animal rights groups got bans adopted that to stop the slaughter of horses. So guess what? People started shipping the horses to Canada and Mexico "where, animal advocates say, they sometimes face more gruesome deaths [than the would have in the US]." The elimination of American slaughter houses have also:

The slaughterhouse closings themselves may have added to the population of the unwanted. In some parts of the country, auctioneers say, the closings have contributed to a drop in the price of horses at the low end of the market, and the added distance in the shipping of horses bound for slaughter, combined with higher fuel costs, means that some small or thin horses are no longer worth the fuel it takes to transport them.

The results are not too surprising to an economist.

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Finally the last of the three big Iowa public universities have started letting campus police carry guns

The story on the University of Northern Iowa can be found here (emphasis added):

The University of Northern Iowa police have been carrying firearms since Dec. 23, following an October vote of the Iowa Board of Regents allowing arming of campus police.

Iowa State University became the first of the state's three public universities to arm officers when it allowed sworn police to carry guns Nov. 12. The University of Iowa followed on Nov. 22. . . .

a change long sought by the public safety directors. Iowa's public universities were the only schools in their athletic conferences that did not allow officers to carry guns.

Thanks very much to Mike Miller for sending me this link.

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Another reason why Campaign Finance Regulations help Bloomberg

I came across an interesting news story today about Bloomberg possibly running for the presidency:

So far, the surprise outcomes of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary have added urgency and strength to the Bloomberg operation, Schoen said.

"The uncertainty in the nominating process on both sides makes it more likely that Mike Bloomberg will explore a candidacy," he said.

I agree with this, but for possibly different reasons than the person here. Take the extreme case. If a nominee is not picked for a party until the party convention in August, that person will have little time to raise what would likely be a hundred or two hundred million for the general election. The less time that the Republicans or Democrats have to raise money, the easier it will be for Bloomberg to win.

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Might Global Warming Imply that We should LOWER Gasoline Taxes?

To summarize the contrast: The Stern Review calls for a carbon tax of $350 per ton of carbon in 2015. Nordhaus’ model, which has been peer-reviewed many times, calculates the optimal carbon tax in 2015 to be ONE-TENTH of that, or only $35 per ton carbon. I find it useful to put these quantities in terms of something we understand more readily: $350 per ton carbon converts to $1 per gallon of gasoline, while $35 per ton carbon converts to 10 cents per gallon of gasoline. We are talking big differences here.

If you read the discussion that Bob has, you will see that the $1 per gallon tax on gasoline is not very serious. If we are talking about 10 cents per gallon, we already have gasoline taxes that are over 6 times greater than that. Even if we are accepting everything here as correct (and I think that the 10 cent estimate is probably high), there is an argument to be made that gas taxes should be cut.

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Was there a conspiracy about voting machines in New Hampshire?

A good friend of mine, Robert G. Hansen, speculates whether there is some systematic impact of voting machines on Hillary Clinton's share of the vote in New Hampshire. His discussion reminds me a lot about the discussion that took place after the 2004 and 2000 elections. Bob finds some evidence of a difference in Hillary's share based on whether there is a "machine count" or a hand count. I would have done the empirical work differently and seen if there was a difference in the ratio of Hillary's actual share to her share in the polls with the type of vote counting method. It seems necessary to account for differences from the poll and to see if there is anything systematic in how wrong the polls were in predicting things with respect to the machine counting. All that said, anyone who has read my writings on all this knows that I am very dubious about anything shady going on here.


More over reactions from schools to students

The incident apparently happened last month. A six-year-old girl was seen kissing a second grade boy several times while they were riding in the school bus, and the boy was seen kissing her back. The girl's actions landed her in some hot water as her parents were called into the principal's office, and the girl was reportedly suspended from riding the bus for three days. . . .

Many parents believe, given the young ages of the students, a better approach would have been to simply sit down with the children and talk to them, "And say when you are in school it's not appropriate to kiss boys when you are in school, but find out from her exactly how it was meant and I'm sure as in this case it was a child being affectionate to another child, not anything sexual," says Smith.

As is too frequent these days, the school's response was overblown.


Fred Thompson's Plan for Cutting Federal Government Spending

While the media seems to be focused on personalities, Fred Thompson has put forward one well thought out policy position after another, whether it is social security reform or immigration. Previously Thompson has listed 100 government programs he would like to see cut. A summary of his new proposal for limiting government growth can be seen here.

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Transportation Security Administration might be off its rocker

The Transportation Security Administration is apparently about to unveil the new holster that will be used by the Flight Deck Officer (FDO) program (the armed pilots program). You really have to see the picture of this holster to believe it. I hope that all this is a joke, but I haven't had a chance to check it out with some pilots that I know. I suppose that this is better than the lock box that pilots have been having to use.

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SF Gun Ban Thrown Out by California Appeals Court

"Colorado Raid Angers Family"

NEW CASTLE, Colo. (AP) -- An armed law enforcement team broke down the door of a family home with a battering ram and took an 11-year-old to a hospital after authorities feared he was not getting proper medical care for what turned out to be a minor head injury.
Garfield County's All Hazards Response Team raided the home Friday night, a day after Jon Shiflett fell after grabbing the handle of a moving car. Someone - possibly a neighbor - called paramedics.
Jon's father, Tom Shiflett, 62, told paramedics he didn't want them to treat Jon and asked them to leave. He told them he had served as a medic in Vietnam and he had the skill to treat his son.
Caseworkers who later visited the family reported seeing injuries that included a "huge hematoma" and a sluggish pupil. They went before a judge seeking a search warrant and order for medical treatment, citing affidavits from the ambulance crew.
Following the raid, a doctor recommended Jon be given fluids, Tylenol and ice to treat the bruises, according to a copy of the child's patient aftercare instructions. . . . .

Thanks to Rich for sending this to me.


Virginia Governor Tim Kaine pushes for more gun control

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Timothy M. Kaine on Tuesday proposed requiring background checks for everyone who tries to purchase firearms at gun shows - legislation he called critical to helping prevent tragedies like the shootings at Virginia Tech.

Critical? Did the killer at Virginia Tech get his gun from a gun show? No. Of course, the new NICS law was prompted by the VT attack, but even if it had been in effect at the time, it wouldn't have stopped the attack. In addition, the November 2001 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that fewer than 1 percent of prison inmates who possessed a gun when they were caught obtained their gun from a gun show. To make it clear, 30 percent of state prison inmates possessed a gun when they were caught and of these only .7% got their gun from a gun show. Only about 10 percent of violent crimes are committed with a gun. Many of these 30 percent did not use a gun in their crime.


Permit holder loses permit for pointing gun a store customer

I try to keep track of the good and the bad cases. Here is one of the extremely rare cases where a permit holder did something wrong and he was punished for doing it.

Ingram clerk points gun, will lose license: police

By Bobby Kerlik
Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ten days after shooting a would-be robber multiple times, an Ingram convenience store clerk again pulled a gun -- this time on a customer, police said Tuesday.
"They were in a heated argument over change from a transaction," Ingram police Chief John Doherty said, describing clerk Kaelin Weber's encounter with the customer. "Words were exchanged, and he felt he was being intimidated."

Weber, 24, was cleared of wrongdoing in the Christmas morning shooting, but the latest incident will cost him his license to carry a concealed weapon, said Allegheny County Sheriff Bill Mullen, who grants gun permits. . . .



Clinton's crying made her appear sympathetic

I thought that this "crying" was planned yesterday and I believe it even more so now. This was Hillary Clinton's Sister Souljah moment. They wanted to make her look human and sympathetic. It just amazes me that they could achieve this with what was probably staged.

Edward Morrissey asks
"Did independents break Republican instead of Democrat, assuming that Obama had the race sewn up?"
It certainly seems possible, though you would probably need an exit poll to determine if this is true. I guess that I believe that the effect that I mentioned above was the important effect.

UPDATE: From John Fund at OpinionJournal's Political Diary:
A senior Obama adviser told Politico.com that he had no other explanation for his candidate's startling loss. "Did her choking up have a positive effect among women? Did they say, 'We are not going to run her out of the race here?'" the adviser asked. "There is no other reason we can see. Every poll showed us even with Clinton with women, and then we lose women to her. There was a big gender gap that didn't show up until yesterday."

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80 Year Old Woman Stops Mountain Lion with Gun

Do People vote their self-interest?

George Mason's Bryan Caplan has a provocative piece in this last Sunday's Washington Post. His first point is:

1. People vote their self-interest.

In fact, there is only the tiniest correlation between income and party. The country is not divided into two camps: the poor, who vote Democrat, and the rich, who vote Republican. If you consider your own experiences, this is hardly surprising: Are your rich friends really Republicans and your poor friends Democrats?

Self-interest is also a bad predictor of views about specific issues. Yes, the elderly heavily support Social Security and Medicare, but so does almost everyone else. The old bumper sticker says, "If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament," but men are actually slightly more pro-choice than women. And so on. Pollsters have found a few exceptions where self-interest really matters, such as smoking restrictions, which smokers obviously tend to oppose. But overall, where voters stand has little to do with where they sit.

I guess that I have a simple explanation for this claim regarding abortion based upon my own research. Single men support abortion because it makes it more likely that women are willing to engage in pre-marital sex. This op-ed is based upon Bryan's book "The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies." His point on "Voters' errors balance out" is very similar even to some research that I have done in the past.

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More thoughts on Campaign Finance Reform

For those who think that a deadlocked national convention will let the Republicans turn to another candidate, my advice is to forget it. This time it will be necessary for candidates to forgo public financing of their campaigns and campaign finance regulations make it extremely difficult to for a new candidate to put together a national mailing list of campaign donors.


The problem with the claim that lethal injection for the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment

While the chief justice’s skepticism was not unexpected, Justice Stephen G. Breyer’s response to Mr. Verrilli’s argument was a surprise. Justice Breyer told Mr. Verrilli he had read scientific articles supporting the one-drug protocol that were cited in the briefs filed by the inmates and had found them confusing.

“So I’m left at sea,” he said. “I understand your contention. You claim that this is somehow more painful than some other method. But which? And what’s the evidence for that? What do I read to find it?”

“I ended up thinking, of course there is a risk of human error,” Justice Breyer continued. “There is a risk of human error generally where you’re talking about the death penalty, and this may be one extra problem, one serious additional problem. But the question here is, Can we say that there is a more serious problem here than with other execution methods?”

Often, such doubts about the quality of the evidence lead the court to send a case back to the lower courts for further factual development. Mr. Verrilli said that although the record was sufficiently clear for the justices to proceed, “it certainly would be a reasonable thing to do” to send the case back to the Kentucky courts, which rejected the challenge to the three-drug protocol without considering whether the availability of the single-drug alternative meant that inmates were being subjected to an unnecessary risk of pain. . . . .

The claim is that the first injection cannot be guaranteed to anesthetize the killer before the other drugs take effect. By this logic of requiring a guarantee, executions through a firing squad or hanging or electrocution would all have to be banned.

But the problem is actually even broader. We can't even guarantee the criminal's safety in prison. Could the criminal be injured? Could he be stabbed by another criminal? My own guess is that those arguing to end executions understand this problem and probably really hope that the case will be sent back to the lower court. Sending the case back to the lower court could be used to continue to put on hold executions in the US for years.

What about the claim that the second injection that paralyzes the killer before he is executed is unnecessary? I can think of several good reasons for it, but the primary one is why would you want the criminal making gestures and thrashing around during the execution?

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Another example that incentives matter



It is difficult for me to understand what the "business" reason would be for this. I guess that I have never heard of the company that processes credit card transactions facing liability so that also seem out of the question. Not processing non-firearm transactions for companies involved with firearms? This seems a bridge too far. So is it just political?


National Shooting Sports Foundation

January 7, 2008

REFUSES TO PROCESS TRANSACTIONS . . . Citi Merchant Services and First Data Corp. are refusing to process any credit card transactions between federally licensed firearms retailers, distributors and manufacturers -- a move which will severely limit available inventory of firearms and ammunition to military, law enforcement and law-abiding Americans.

The first company to be affected by this decision appears to be firearms
distributor CDNN Sports Inc.
"We were contacted recently by First Data/Citi Merchant Services by a June Rivera-Mantilla stating that we were terminated and funds were being seized for selling firearms in a non-face-to-face transaction," said Charlie Crawford, president of CDNN Sports Inc. "Although perfectly legal, we were also informed that no transactions would be processed in the future, even for non-firearms. I find this very frightening."

To voice your concern to Citi Merchant Services and First Data Corp., please contact June Rivera-Mantilla at 631-683-7734 or her supervisor Robert Tenenbaum at 631-683-6570.

To change to an NSSF-affiliated credit card processing program, contact
Payment Alliance International at 1-866-371-2273 (ext. 1131).

Thanks to Dan Gifford for this information.

UPDATE: At least one person is dropping his Citi bank card.


Clinton's Muskie Moment, Or was it planned?

If it was not an Ed Muskie moment — Mrs. Clinton did not cry (or look like she was crying) — she was certainly on the verge of it after a woman asked her, at a round table discussion at a coffee shop here, how she managed to get out of bed and soldier through each day.

How will voters react to a candidate who cries about having a hard time in the campaign? If it was a man, he would be out of the race very quickly. With a woman, will people feel sorry for her? Do they think that she needs to show even more toughness?

Here is the big question. I hate to be really cynical about all this, but with the desire to make Hillary appear more human and likable is there any chance that her crying was planned? I guess that I wouldn't be surprised.

UPDATE: In the interest of fairness, here is Clinton's response to the concern that this display of emotion was staged. If you go to that link, Major Garrett has a video up of him asking her directly about this.

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Another sign of Global Warming: Snow Flurries Reported Along Daytona Beach Coast

As someone who grew up in Florida, this is pretty amazing. Snow along the ocean coast? This is a third of the way down the coast. The ocean also tends to mitigate temperature changes.

Snow Flurries Reported Along Daytona Beach Coast

POSTED: 7:17 am EST January 3, 2008
UPDATED: 12:28 pm EST January 3, 2008

Elsewhere in the state, temperatures dropped into the 20s in north Florida. The lowest temperature recorded in Florida was 20 in Cross City, about 90 miles southeast of Tallahassee, the National Weather Service said. Snow flurries were reported near the Daytona Beach coastline, the first in Florida since 2006.

For slightly more systematic evidence see this:

University of Oklahoma geophysicist David Deming, a specialist in temperature and heat flow, notes in the Washington Times that "unexpected bitter cold swept the entire Southern Hemisphere in 2007." Johannesburg experienced its first significant snowfall in a quarter-century. Australia had its coldest ever June. New Zealand's vineyards lost much of their 2007 harvest when spring temperatures dropped to record lows.

Closer to home, 44.5 inches of snow fell in New Hampshire last month, breaking the previous record of 43 inches, set in 1876. And the Canadian government is forecasting the coldest winter in 15 years.

Now all of these may be short-lived weather anomalies, mere blips in the path of the global climatic warming that Al Gore and a host of alarmists proclaim the deadliest threat we face. But what if the frigid conditions that have caused so much distress in recent months signal an impending era of global cooling?

Thanks to the DrudgeReport for the Florida link and Gus for the Boston Globe link.

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Evaluating Michigan's Right-to-carry Law After 6 years

Dawson Bell, a reporter at the Detroit Free Press, has a very interesting news article evaluating Michigan's experience after 6 years with the law. While these articles are frequently seen six months or a year after a right-to-carry law has gone into effect, it is really extremely rare to see this type of analysis piece done after that point in time. Here is about half the article, but the entire piece is definitely worth reading:

Michigan sees fewer gun deaths — with more permits
January 6, 2008
Six years after new rules made it much easier to get a license to carry concealed weapons, the number of Michiganders legally packing heat has increased more than six-fold.
But dire predictions about increased violence and bloodshed have largely gone unfulfilled, according to law enforcement officials and, to the extent they can be measured, crime statistics.
The incidence of violent crime in Michigan in the six years since the law went into effect has been, on average, below the rate of the previous six years. The overall incidence of death from firearms, including suicide and accidents, also has declined.
More than 155,000 Michiganders -- about one in every 65 -- are now authorized to carry loaded guns as they go about their everyday affairs, according to Michigan State Police records.
About 25,000 people had CCW permits in Michigan before the law changed in 2001.
"I think the general consensus out there from law enforcement is that things were not as bad as we expected," said Woodhaven Police Chief Michael Martin, cochair of the legislative committee for the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. "There are problems with gun violence. But ... I think we can breathe a sigh of relief that what we anticipated didn't happen."
John Lott, a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland who has done extensive research on the role of firearms in American society, said the results in Michigan since the law changed don't surprise him.
Academic studies of concealed weapons laws that generally allow citizens to obtain permits have shown different results, Lott said. About two-thirds of the studies suggest the laws reduce crime; the rest show no net effect, he said.
But no peer-reviewed study has ever shown that crime increases when jurisdictions enact changes like those put in place by the Legislature and then-Gov. John Engler in 2000, Lott said.
In Michigan and elsewhere (liberal permitting is the rule in about 40 states), those who seek CCW permits, get training and pay licensing fees tend to be "the kind of people who don't break laws," Lott said.
Nationally, the rate of CCW permits being revoked is very low, he said. State Police reports in Michigan indicate that 2,178 permits have been revoked or suspended since 2001, slightly more than 1% of those issued.
Another State Police report found that 175 Michigan permit holders were convicted of a crime, most of them nonviolent, requiring revocation or suspension of their permits between July 1, 2005, and June 30, 2006.
But even if more armed citizens have not wreaked havoc, some critics of Michigan's law chafe at how it was passed: against stiff opposition in a lame duck legislative session and attached to an appropriation that nullified efforts at repeal by referendum. . . .

I liked the title of the piece.

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Some businesses in St. Louis let employees carry concealed handguns on the job

Other businesses that send workers on the road with cash have policies that differ from Domino's.

Deferring to state firearm law, the St. Louis Taxi Commission leaves the decision about allowing drivers to arm themselves up to the individual cab companies.

St. Louis' Harris Cab Company, in turn, leaves the decision to the discretion of the drivers.

"We don't prevent drivers (from carrying) because we want them to be safe," said manager Shermand Palmer. . . .

It is interesting that cab drivers, who I assume face more of a risk than pizza delivery men, let their employees carry guns. When it matters the most, they let their employees do it. Pizza delivery men are not as great of a target because they carry such limited money on them.

Thanks very much to AJ Troglio for this link and the other links on this story.

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For those interested in limiting gun magazine sizes

With the assault weapons ban again being discussed in the presidential campaign (e.g., Mitt Romney), there are two facts to consider.

1) Here is a youtube presentation about how quickly guns can be reloaded.

2) As an empirical fact the reloading rate for guns is largely irrelevant because the number of murders each year involving more than a few bullets fired is extremely rare.



Supreme Court Takes on Another Death Penalty Case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court said on Friday it would decide whether the death penalty can be imposed for the crime of raping a child, expanding its review of how capital punishment is carried out in the United States.

The nation's highest court agreed to hear an appeal by a Louisiana man who is the only person in the United States on death row for a crime other than murder. He is arguing the death penalty for child rape violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. . . .

There is an interesting economics point here that I wrote about in Freedomnomics. I think that the evidence strongly shows a deterrence effect from the death penalty, but the argument could be quite different for other crimes. If you already face the death penalty for rape, you might want to kill the victim to avoid witnesses. After all, what more can they do to you if you already face the death penalty? The reason that isn't clear is because committing what is considered an even worse crime will increase the probability of arrest and also increase the probability of being given the death penalty. The fact that this child rapist is the only person on death row thus makes it more likely that the possibility of the death penalty for raping a child did not appreciably increase the likelihood that he would have killed his victim.

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If you make something more costly, . . . .

Here is a simple example of economics. If you increase the cost of concentrating on driving, people will drive more slowly, be less likely to change lanes, etc.. In this case, the advent of cell phones have raised the cost of people concentrating on driving.

Compared with undistracted motorists, drivers on cell phones drove an average of 2 mph slower and took 15 to 19 seconds longer to complete the 9.2 miles. That may not seem like much, but is likely to be compounded if 10 percent of all drivers are talking on wireless phones at the same time, Cooper says. . . .

In medium and high density traffic, drivers talking on cell phones were 21 percent and 19 percent, respectively, less likely to change lanes (roughly six lane changes per 9.2-mile drive versus seven or eight lane changes by drivers not on cell phones). . . .


Iowa Curse?: Not much for Democrats

There has been a lot of discussion about how poorly the Iowa caususes predict who will get party nominations. Since 1976 when the caucus has really begun to matter, when you don't have an incumbent Republican president running half the time the caucus correctly picked the eventual nominee. For Democrats, it has been either 4 to 2 to 3 to 2 depending on whether you count uncommitteds winning in 1976 over Carter. But given that the 1976 caucus gave Carter a huge boost, I would probably count it as a correct prediction.



Iowa Campaign: $200 spent for every voter

John Fund at OpinionJournal's Political Diary notes:

This year, with a couple of exceptions such as Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, candidates went beyond participation and virtually wallowed in them. The best estimates are that some $50 million will be spent by all the hopefuls on the Iowa caucuses this year, including $30 million in TV ads and salaries and expenses for at least 700 paid staffers.

That amounts to an eye-opening $200 spent for every voter who walks into a caucus. Of course, the winners in each contest will consider their money well spent. So too will the people of Iowa who will have gotten a healthy injection of cash into their economy, an inordinate amount of attention to their political opinions and pledges of undying devotion to their state's taxpayer-subsidized ethanol industry.

With all the political advertising, I wonder whether Iowa tends to have more TV and radio stations per capita than other states and whether it has increased after 1976 when Iowa started to get to be important. I might be interesting just to study the relative change in value of TV and radio stations in Iowa before and after 1976 relative to stations elsewhere.


Re-opening the debate to arm pilots?

Some are apparently questioning whether pilots should be armed. My friend Tracy Price looks at the arguments in a new argument.

In a recent interview, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida stated: "The need for guns in the cockpit is just nearly not [sic] as acute as it once was. There are all kind [sic] of screening systems, there is now the reinforced cockpit door, there are air marshals, we now have a lots of checks and balances." Hearing this, some might ask, "Do airline pilots still need to be armed?" The answer is, "Absolutely — now more than ever."

Consider this: Arming pilots is not a new idea. In fact, airline pilots flew armed in large numbers from the dawn of commercial aviation to 1987 with no record of incident. When the federal government disarmed pilots in 1987, many pilots predicted cockpit takeover attempts — including the late Captain Victor Saracini, who, in horrible irony, was the captain of United flight 175 on September 11, 2001 when his Boeing 767 was hijacked and crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. It was the disarming of pilots in 1987 that inevitably led to the September 11 cockpit takeovers. . . .

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Late breaking surge for Fred Thompson in Iowa

Thompson is all over the radio today (Hannity and Levin) and he is supposed to be on Hannity's show again tomorrow. Talk about a hint for who they think would be best. Peter Robinson has a nice discussion on Thompson here. Thompson might be surging at just the right time here.

UPDATE: Do you want some evidence that Thompson is doing better in Iowa? How about that someone felt the need to start pushing this rumor.

GOP presidential hopeful Fred Thompson said in an in-studio interview with KCCI-TV in Des Moines that there is no truth to rumors that his campaign will fold before New Hampshire if he doesn't have a strong showing in Iowa.

"That is absolutely made up out of whole cloth," said the former U.S. Senator from Tennessee.

Thompson said a rival campaign was likely the source of that rumor.

"Can you imagine such a thing in politics?" he asked.

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DC Fires its Lead Attorney in the DC Gun Ban Case

I caution people against reading too much into this, but it is generally positive.

David Vladeck, a professor at Georgetown Law School, said Morrison's departure would be a major blow to the D.C. team that has been preparing the case.

"This is a case that requires an unusual amount of preparation because one of the issues comes back to, 'What did those folks who wrote the Bill of Rights really mean when they wrote the Second Amendment,' " said Vladeck, who is friends with Morrison and had been consulting on the case. "In addition to needing a good lawyer and appellate advocate, you need someone who has immersed himself in very complex historical sources. Alan has been doing that for two or three months by now. Whoever takes over this case will start many, many, many laps behind where we ought to be."

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Even Coral can migrate

Global warming will increase plant life and rain forests. The more plants in areas that were previously frozen wastelands means more animal life can be supported. If significant global warming were actually going to occur (and unfortunately since 1998 the world temperature has stopped rising), it would mean more animal life and more animal diversity. When arguing with people about this they say that is fine in the long run, but in the short run there will be extinctions. The most obvious response to that is that animal habitat can move, and besides we are unfortunately only talking about a degree change over the next hundred years. Coral has often been pointed to as one type of life that can't move and will be harmed by any significant warming. But that too seems to be wrong:

While scientists have warned that global warming could devastate Australia's coral reefs, there's now evidence coral may be able to migrate to cooler waters.

After analysing fossils from a warm period 125,000 years ago, the scientists have concluded that coral may move south once more to escape warming oceans.

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"Armed customer thwarts grocery robbery"

From the Indianapolis Star today.

Armed customer thwarts grocery robbery - Indianapolis Star

By Vic Ryckaert
January 2, 2008

A 51-year-old man stopped a masked man from robbing a Southside grocery store and held him at gunpoint until police arrived.

Charlie Merrell was in checkout line at Bucks IGA Supermarket, 3015 S. Meridian St., when a masked man jumped a nearby counter and held a gun on a store employee at 5:17 p.m. Monday, according to a police report made public today.

While the suspect was demanding cash from the workers, the police report states that Merrell pulled his own handgun, pointed it at the robber and ordered him to put down his weapon.

When the suspect hesitated, Merrell racked the slide on his gun to load a round in the chamber, Officer Jason Bockting wrote in the report.

The suspect placed his gun and a bag of cash on the counter, dropping some of the money, police said. The suspect removed his mask and lay on the floor. Merrell held the suspect at gunpoint until officers arrived and took him away in handcuffs.

Merrell had a valid permit to carry the handgun, police said. . Police recovered an unloaded .380-caliber handgun from the suspect and $779 in cash, according to the report. Dwain Smith, 19, was arrested on initial charges of robbery, criminal confinement, pointing a firearm, battery and carrying a handgun without a license. . . .

Thanks very much to Darren Cooper and Scott Davis for sending me this link.

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"Pizza deliveryman who shot robber had gun permit"

A Domino’s pizza deliveryman who shot and killed a would-be robber in Pagedale has a valid permit to carry a weapon and appears to have acted in self-defense, according to St. Louis County police.

UPDATE: This is disappointingly true:

The pizza delivery driver who fatally shot a robber last week could have faced discipline over the incident had he not resigned, a Domino's spokesman said Wednesday.

Although the driver was being praised by bloggers with comments such as "Score one for the good guys," many corporations, like Domino's, prohibit armed employees. . . .

I assume that at least part of this due to expectations of liability. This in turn effects insurance rules. If the legal set up were changed, I think that many firms would start to let employees carry guns.

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Global Warming Petition

Scientists are being asked to look at a petition regarding global warming and consider signing it. The petition can be found here. The text of the petition is as follows:

We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.

The website also has a 12 page summary of the scientific research on global warming and a letter by Frederick Seitz, Past President, National Academy of Sciences.

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Another (very long) review of Freedomnomics

Economist WIlliam Sjostrom has a very nice review of my book up on his website. It was very nice of him to take this much time to review it.

The short version: my doubts are small. Read it, read it, read it, and, oh yeah, read it.


Giuliani On Gun Control

Obviously this old youtube clip is relevant given the current primaries and Giuliani arguing that he supports gun ownership, but the reason for linking to this is that Giuliani is making the old argument about treating gun ownership like we treat cars. In fact, if we had the same rules for guns that we have for cars, we would be deregulating gun ownership. The reason is simple. You don't need a license to own a car on your own property. The various regulations on cars only apply once you take the car off of your property, but once you meet those regulations you can take your car anyplace in the United States. If guns were treated similarly, there would be no regulations, no licensing, no safety requirements as long as you kept the gun on your property. (By the way, you can transport a car off of your property, but you just can't drive it without the license.) The driver's license would be like a right-to-carry permit, but if the permit was like the driver's license, once you got it you would be able to take your gun with you any place in the US.

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Why Romney's changing positions will be so harmful

Even conservative editorialists at places like The Union Leader in New Hampshire and The Boston Herald find his flip-flopping offensive.

It is not just issues like guns and abortion (this piece also hits him for his changing position on immigration). I have no problem with him learning on issues, but it is getting pretty obvious that Romney is an extremely poll driven candidate. Here is a decade ago arguing against cutting farm subsidies and here he is more recently saying how essential farm subsidies. Here he is saying that strict gun control helps protect Americans' safety, but now he is a defender of gun rights. (Personally, I am not sure that he knows what the current gun control laws are.) Here used to oppose Boy Scout policy on homosexuals.

The thing that is important is not what his stands used to be nor what they are now (though I am very bothered by his current stand on global warming), but that they change so much on so many incredibly different things. My book, Freedomnomics, has a long discussion about why it is difficult for politicians with these changing positions to get elected.

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"more young black men in prison than in college" -- False

What Obama Got Wrong
Friday, December 14, 2007; Page A14

WHAT HE GOT WRONG: "I don't want to wake up four years from now and discover that we still have more young black men in prison than in college."

-- Barack Obama, rally in Harlem, Nov. 29

Obama has repeated this false claim to predominantly African American audiences, even after The Washington Post pointed out the mistake to his campaign. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 106,000 African American men ages 18 to 24 were in federal or state prisons at the end of 2005. An additional 87,000 were temporarily held in local jails in mid-2006. According to 2005 census data, 530,000 African American men in this age group were in college.

Black male college students outnumber black male prisoners even if the age group is expanded to 30 or 35. The Obama campaign has not responded to several requests for statistical data to support the senator's remarks, and it has not explained a similar claim that he made to an NAACP audience on July 12.

-- Michael Dobbs

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