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7/7/2006

Mexican Election Debate Continues

Despite what I wrote in yesterday's piece at NRO, it still seems that you can convince people that an election has been stolen when it is in their interest to claim it.

But Mr Calderón, a 43-year-old former energy minister in President Vicente Fox’s current administration, says opening up the boxes would break electoral law and could invalidate the entire election. In an FT interview this week, Mr Calderón said that a full manual recount was “totally out of the question. Not only that but it is illegal.”

Most legal experts agree, though some argue that the constitution is flexible enough to allow a recount, given the exceptional circumstances. The problem for Mr Calderón is that he faces the prospect of taking office on December 1 with millions of voters believing that he did not win fairly.

In the meantime, many Mexicans believe that Saturday afternoon’s rally in the Zócalo could be just the first – and, perhaps, most peaceful – manifestation of growing social unrest.


Even if you are talking about only 10 percent or so of Obrador's supporters who believe that there is fraud and the election should be challenged (about the number that I saw in a recent poll), that is still millions of people.

UN Gun control report

Details of the UN's gun control report can be found here. I haven't looked through the report yet, but it doesn't look good.

Well, the UN Conference broke down without passing anything.

A U.N. meeting meant to expand a five-year-old crackdown on the illicit global trade in small arms ended in chaos on Friday as delegates ran out of time without reaching agreement on a plan for future action.

"There was a total meltdown at the end. You don't know if it was a conspiracy or just a screw-up," said one delegate, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Other delegates said negotiations had simply proceeded too slowly, leaving too much to accomplish on the last day.

But Rebecca Peters of the London-based International Action Network on Small Arms accused governments of letting a few states "hold them all hostage and to derail any plans which might have brought any improvements in this global crisis.


This might be a temporary victory for those who want to be able to protect themselves and their families, but it is a win nonetheless.

Thanks to Brian O'Connor for this last link.

7/6/2006

Indiana starts granting lifetime concealed handgun permits

Indiana is the first state in the nation to offer residents lifetime handgun permits under a new law that went into effect this month -- a move hailed by Second Amendment supporters and blasted by gun-control advocates.

The law, which also increases the cost of obtaining or renewing a four-year license, went on the books Saturday. The change is expected to bring in more money to the state and the Indiana State Police.

State Police Superintendent Paul Whitesell announced details of House Enrolled Act 1176 at a news conference Wednesday, saying the law will streamline the process to get a permit for law-abiding gun owners. His agency oversees the issuance of permits.

Residents do not need a permit to buy handguns or other firearms but must have one to carry or transport a pistol. State Police officials said Indiana has about 288,000 active handgun permits. Permits are good for four years, but now gun owners have the option of obtaining a lifetime permit instead. . . .


"Peter Hamm, communications director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, called the law 'ludicrous.'"

Thanks to Dan Gifford for sending this to me.

Media Bias: Misreporting on the economy

What we can learn from Mexicon on holding elections

Gunlocks endanger lives

7/3/2006

Rankings of economists

For whatever it is worth, there are recent rankings of economists. The rankings examines economists from 1969 to 2000. There are four UCLA Ph.D.'s noted on the list: Ross Levine, Guido Tabellini, Bob Topel, and myself. Personally, I am honored to even be roughly on the same list as these three guys. Based on that ranking in terms of total academic journal output adjusted for quality of the journals I am ranked during that period of time as 26th (obviously I didn't get my Ph.D. until 1984 so that works to lower my rating relative to older economists, still I am surprisingly ahead of older well-known economists such as Robert Barro (Harvard), Ed Lazear (Stanford), and Peter Diamond (MIT) (see Table 8)). In terms of raw number of equivalent size pages in academic journals, I am 4th among all economists worldwide. Based upon citations during the 1969 to 2000 period I am 86th (putting me slightly ahead of older people such as John Roberts (Stanford), Ben Bernanke (Princeton, now head of the Federal Reserve), and Oliver Hart (MIT) (see Table 9)).

Thanks to Butch Browning for bringing this to my attention.

Mexican Stock Market Says PAN Candidate Won

Happy 4th of July Weekend!!

Just wishing everyone a happy 4th of July Weekend! Enjoy the fireworks and be safe.

7/1/2006

Justice Anthony Kennedy as a "moderate-conservative"?

According to Georgetown's Supreme Court Institute, six times he made the difference in 5 to 4 votes on the conservative side and 4 times on the liberal side. I am not sure that I quite agree with their count because Kennedy issued a divided opinion in hte Texas redistricting case, where he argued that there was discrimination against Hispanics in one district. Rather than a 6 to 4 division, possibly it should count as 5.5 to 4.5 or 5.75 to 4.25? In any case, Kennedy appears more moderate than conservative.

In the 17 cases during the 2005-2006 term that were decided by five-vote majorities, Kennedy was on the winning side 12 times, more than any other justice, according to figures compiled by Georgetown's Supreme Court Institute.

In six of those cases, Kennedy voted with the conservative bloc, made up of Roberts, Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. As a result, the court upheld most of Texas's Republican-drafted redistricting plan, restored the death penalty in Kansas, and ruled that police do not have to throw out evidence they gather in illegal no-knock searches.

But four times, Kennedy, a 1988 appointee of President Ronald Reagan, defected to the liberal justices, John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

As a result, the court not only struck down Bush's military commissions. It also ruled that the police need permission from both occupants to search a home without a warrant, gave a Tennessee death-row inmate a chance to win a new trial, and said that Texas violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting the voting power of Latino Democrats in one district. (Twice Kennedy was part of mixed left-right coalitions.) . . . .

John McGinnis explains the changing dynamic on Supreme Court

I had been surprised by Breyer voting with the majority in the Vermont campaign finance case and possibly this explains it:

The court's new lineup is likely to change the dynamic in ways that extend well beyond the differences in how Roberts and Alito might vote compared with Rehnquist and O'Connor, says John McGinnis, a Northwestern law professor who worked with Alito in the Reagan Justice Department.

For example, there are some early signs that Justice Stephen Breyer may be inclined to vote more strategically to stay within the majority on certain cases, McGinnis said. And Roberts, for his part, may be assigning Breyer to write certain opinions in an effort to keep him from reflexively siding with the other liberals.

"I think that will be a story we should be following for the next five years," McGinnis said.

Eminent domain mess, Land taken by mistake?

Fox News has a nice video story about land that was siezed under eminent domain to build a WalMart, but now the city want to buy the land back because the WalMart store design is said to be "too boxy." Don't people check these things out before they take other people's property? I assume that people would be more careful taking property if they actually had to pay what it was worth.

6/30/2006

More on UN gun control conference

Supreme Court out of control?

I have been reading Scalia's and Thomas's dissents in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, and they are quite devastating. The liberals on the court not only seem to have completely ignored Congress's legislation on the court's jurisdiction, but the court ignores the President's war making powers and rely on international law. Good thing the Justices are there to set the congress and the president straight. Could you imagine the congress actually fulfilling their constitutional role to say what types of cases the courts can hear? Fortunately, we have five Justices who are competent to rewrite the laws and enter into the right foreign treaties when the congress and president ignore the obvious things that they should be doing.

Will Mexico Lurch to the Left this Sunday?

Fox may not be the perfect Mexican President from America's perspective, but if Obrador wins, we will wish that he were still president. It is hard for me to understand why Mexican's can't see the problems created by socialism and the corruption that it creates when they compare their own experience with America's. Obrador's campaign has been long on spending promises and reminding voters that women find him sexually attractive. It has been a wierd campaign. Most polls seem to show Obrador with a slight lead, but virtually all the polls put the election as too close to call. Obrador's campaign being partially funded by Venezuela Dictator Hugo Chavez didn't seem to hurt him very much. Unfortunately, the trend has been to Obrador, though his momentum seems to have stalled in the last week. Calderón may not be inspiring, but the economics in his campaign rhetoric emphasizes the need to privatize government holdings and create incentives.

Polling Data
What candidate would you vote for in the 2006 presidential election?

. . . . . . . . . . . Jun. 18 . . . . Jun. 11 . . . . May 2006
Felipe Calderón (PAN) . . . 33% . . . . . 37% . . . . . 42%
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (PRD)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31% . . . . .35% . . . . . 31%


Source: GEA-ISA
Methodology: Face-to-face interviews with 1,600 Mexican adults, conducted from Jun. 16 to Jun. 18, 2006. Margin of error is 3.5 per cent.


Polling Data
What candidate would you vote for in the 2006 presidential election?
(Decided Voters)


. . . . . . . . . . . Jun. 19 . . . . Jun. 9 . . . . Jun. 4
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (PRD)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36% . . . . .34% . . . . . 36%
Felipe Calderón (PAN) . . . 34% . . . . . 37% . . . . . 36%

Source: El Universal
Methodology: Interviews with 2,000 Mexican voters, conducted from Jun. 16 to Jun. 19, 2006. Margin of error is 2.9 per cent.

Update on UN gun regulation conference

6/29/2006

Small comment on Texas Redistricting Case

The fractured decision was a small victory for Democratic and minority groups who accused Republicans of an unconstitutional power grab in drawing boundaries that booted four Democratic incumbents from office. . . . .


I really wonder how much of a long term victory this is for Democrats because it reinforces the majority-minority districts that very heavily concentrate minorities into certain districts. This is particularly true for Hispanics where a large majority of the constituents apparently have to be Hispanic to ensure that a Hispanic (read Democrat) will be elected. The problem is that this reduces the total number of Democrats elected. The bad effect for Republicans is that Hispanics are made to only be represented by Democrats and makes it less likely for Republican Hispanics to get a start.

George Will nails campaign finance debate

Roberts asked the attorney general for an example to validate his assertion that campaign contributions from Vermont interest groups "often determine what positions candidates and officials take on issues." The attorney general answered that he could not offer an example, and said that "influence" would be more accurate than "determine." People trying to influence elections and government? Heaven forfend. In another clarification, sort of, the attorney general said the problem is "undue influence." So there.

Incessant allegations about the "appearance" of corruption are self-validating -- they create a public impression of corruption. Such allegations enable the reform movement to keep raising money and raising doubts about the sufficiency of government regulations, however numerous, of speech about government. Hence reformers have a powerful incentive to argue two propositions.

One is that corruption is so pervasive and subtle that it is invisible. They resemble the zealots who say proof of the vast sophistication of the conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy is the fact that no proof has been found.

Alternatively, reformers argue that corruption is entirely visible everywhere: It is called politics. If politician A votes in a way pleasing to contributor B -- particularly if B enjoyed "access" to A -- that shall be designated corruption. Never mind abundant research demonstrating that money usually moves toward politicians of particular behavior, rather than changing behavior. . . . .


One minor comment: as far as I know, my research is the only one that shows this last point, but I am glad that he made it.

Defensive Gun Use in San Francisco?

This on the streets of SF? I assume that the person who defended himself is not anxious to come forward given the gun laws in California and the hostility towards guns in SF.

Police are looking for a man who turned the tables on three would-be robbers and shot them early Tuesday in the Tenderloin.

Police say the three first tried to rob a man at 3:30 a.m. at Turk and Leavenworth streets, but he was able to escape. The man then watched as the suspects confronted a couple and tried to grab a backpack from them, police said.

The man with the backpack pulled a gun and shot the three, police said. One man was wounded in the leg and was quickly arrested, and a second man wounded in the arm and buttocks was found around the corner.

The third man, wounded in the buttocks and groin, went to the Tenderloin Task Force police station for help.

"You've got to go somewhere," Inspector John Peterson said. "Where he was shot, he needed the help.''

The three men each were charged with two counts of attempted robbery. Their names were not immediately released. . . . .


Thanks to Don Kates for sending this to me.

"House votes to overturn mandatory gun locks"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to overturn a recently enacted law requiring safety trigger locks on all hand guns sold in the United States.

The Republican-controlled House handed a victory to opponents of gun control by a vote of 230-191.

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, a Colorado Republican, argued that the added cost of the trigger locks is passed on to gun owners and that they "do not stop accidental shootings."

Last fall, President George W. Bush signed legislation giving gun makers broad protections from civil lawsuits, but that law contained the mandatory trigger lock provision.


The amendment overturning the requirement for trigger locks was attached to a larger law enforcement spending bill for next year that has not yet been considered by the Senate.

6/28/2006

Nemerov: "AP Blames NRA for Violent Crime"

Howard Nemerov over at ChronWatch has an interesting article on media bias: AP Blames NRA for Violent Crime. Howard is right to point to the bias in who reporters rely on for their experts. I think that some of the points go too far, such as worrying about the fact that the initial crime numbers don't cover the entire country or that there are frequently small revisions in these initial numbers. I also wouldn't push the political bias that hard.

There is also the issue of timing. I thought that the federal funding was cut well before this increase occurred. In addition, the local communities bear the costs and benefits of crime and they are perfectly capable of deciding how much of their own money to spend on law enforcement. It is not really clear why you have localities send their tax money to the federal government only to have it returned to them with various strings attached.