11/30/04 Donohue withdraws from Thursday's University of Chicago debate on Guns
Disappointingly John Donohue has at the last minute withdrawn from our scheduled debate on Thursday (see note for 11/29 below). I will still give a talk, though I will instead discuss the changing judicial confirmation process.
UPDATE: No one apparently understands why Donohue really backed out of the debate just a couple of days before the event. The debate had been set up months in advance.
11/30/04 So much for the fear of guns at universities
A few weeks later, the rifle cost him his job of 23 years.
That Oct. 1, in a surprise search, Weyerhaeuser Co. sent gun-sniffing dogs into the parking lot of its paper mill here. Mr. Bastible and 11 other workers were fired after guns were found in their vehicles. The timber company said the weapons violated a new company policy that extended a longtime workplace gun ban to the parking area. The fired workers said they knew nothing of the new rule.
The firings outraged many in this wooded community in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. In rural Oklahoma, carrying a firearm in one's car is commonplace. "In Oklahoma, gun control is when you hit what you shoot at," says Jerry Ellis, a member of the state legislature.
Now, the dispute is reverberating beyond the borders of tiny Valliant, located in the southeast corner of the state. In response, the state legislature overwhelmingly passed a law giving Oklahomans the right to keep guns locked in their cars in parking lots. But just days before the law was to go into effect this month, several prominent companies with Oklahoma operations, including Whirlpool Corp. and ConocoPhillips sued to stop it. A federal judge put the law on hold pending a hearing.
11/26/04 The cost of deer (or the benefits produced by hunters)
The 100,000 estimate immediately came under attack. Foreign Secretary Jack
Straw of Britain questioned the methodology of the study and compared it with an Iraq Health Ministry figure that put civilian fatalities at less than 4,000. Other critics referred to the findings of the Iraq Body Count project, which
has constructed a database of war-related civilian deaths from verified news
media reports or official sources like hospitals and morgues.
That database recently placed civilian deaths somewhere between 14,429 and
16,579, the range arising largely from uncertainty about whether some victims
were civilians or insurgents. But because of its stringent conditions for
including deaths in the database, the project has quite explicitly said, ''Our
own total is certain to be an underestimate.''
It has refrained from commenting on the 100,000 figure, except for noting
that such a number ''is on the scale of the death toll from Hiroshima'' and, if accurate, has ''serious implications.'' Certainly, the Johns Hopkins study is rife with assumptions necessitated by the lack of basic census and mortality data in Iraq. The sampling also required numerous adjustments because of wartime dangers -- and courage in
carrying out the interviews. Accordingly, the results are presented with a good many qualifications.
I haven't spent a lot of time going through the methodology used in this survey by Lancet, but I don't know how one could assume that those surveyed couldn't have lied to create a false impression. After all, some do have a strong political motive and there is the concern that some could greatly exaggerate the number of deaths to those conducting the survey. There is also the question of the comparability of the before and after war fatality rates. Andrew Bolt has a very extensive and interesting critique of the Lancet paper:
But even more persuasive are 2002 figures from UNICEF, which in a much bigger survey of 24,000 households found the infant mortality rate in Iraq before the war was actually a tragic 108 deaths per 1000 infants.
This is more than three times higher than the Lancet survey claims was the case – and double what even the survey claims is the infant mortality rate today. . . .
The researchers did not ask for proof of the children's deaths and admit they were reluctant to ask for proof of all the adults' deaths, either, "because this might have implied that they did not believe the respondents, perhaps triggering violence". Were the Iraqis likewise scared to tell the truth?
11/26/04 Howard Dean with lead in race to take over as DNC Chairman?
Eleanor Clift is one person who should know what is going on in the Democratic Party. She writes:
The only benefit that I can see for the Democrats is that it could keep Dean from running for President in 2008.
11/25/04 Happy Thanksgiving
For an excellent discussion of the real story of Thanksgiving see go here. The central point is this:
"The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well. Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. That's right. Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn't work!?
11/24/04 November general election exit polls on gun ownership
The national exit polls indicate that 41 percent of American households own a gun. 63 percent voted for Bush (an increase of 2 percent over 2000), 36 percent for Kerry, and 1 percent for Nader.
The previous day the NY Times had a story about women (including a 70-something woman) who were upset about being frisked too throughly. At least for the older woman, that is pretty hard to comprehend as being necessary.
11/23/04 What might future elections hold?
The LA Times has an interesting analysis of this past presidential election:
11/23/04 Isn't it just a question of historical accuracy?
Maryland public schools are in a bit of debate about how to teach Thanksgiving tomorrow. Personally I think that the more important issue is how they reorganized property (moving away from a communal to a private property organization) that saved the colony and of course this is never mentioned, but this other debate is still worth notice:
11/21/04 Responses in the LA Times to Op-ed on Judicial Confirmation Process
The LA Times published a couple of letters responding to my op-ed with Sonya.
November 20, 2004 Saturday
SECTION: CALIFORNIA; Metro; Editorial Pages Desk; Part B; Pg. 20
HEADLINE: High Court Drama
Re "Breaking the Siege in the Judge War," Commentary, Nov. 16: John Lott
and Sonya Jones write that the confirmation rate for President Bush's judicial nominees is historically low. In particular, they claim that only 69% of Bush's nominees to federal appeals courts and 33% of his nominees to the District of Columbia Appeals Court have been confirmed. The facts, however, are quite different: Bush has made 210 nominations to federal judgeships and 200 have beenconfirmed, a 95% confirmation rate. It is hard to know how Lott and Jones came up with their figures.
So, let me understand the argument: If Democrats simply roll over and play
dead when President Bush sends his judicial nominations to the Senate, the
so-called logjam will end.
My goodness! Why didn't the Democrats think of that?
First, the numbers that we discussed on the issue of confirmation rates explicitly noted they involved Appeals Court judges, not all judges. Appeals Court judges are much more important than District Court judges and that is where the problems are occurring. Second, if you do look at all judges, Bush had 220 nominations of which 192 (or 87 percent) have been confirmed.
11/18/04 Condoleezza Rice on Guns
Well, with Condoleezza Rice at the helm, you won't have to worry about the UN taking away people's ability to own guns over the next few years:
11/18/04 "Supreme Court in Illinois frees gun makers of liability"
In a unanimous decision the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the Chicago lawsuit against gun makers. While the decision was not surprising, the unanimity as well as the stinging rebuke offered by the court were:
The New South Wales state government brought charges against the ranch owner, who employed 23-year-old Daniel Croker, convicting and fining the company $72,000 last month for breaches of safety, including failure to provide the horseman with an equestrian helmet.
Ranch manager Nicholas Ennis told investigators he knew of no ranch in Australia that made cowboys wear helmets except while mustering on motorbikes.
Since the tragedy at the ranch in Merriwagga, about 300 miles west of Sydney, helmets have become compulsory for working in the saddle there, but ranchers are calling for industrial laws to be changed to reflect the differences between working in the Outback and in a city factory.
News South Wales Farmers' Association president Mal Peters warned that substituting helmets for broad-brimmed hats would increase the hazards of skin cancer and heat stroke. He said there is no helmet a farmer can use when the temperature reaches 113 degrees. "For a farmer who's mustering a mob of sheep, moving very slowly behind them without any air circulation, he or his employee may be subject to heat stroke," Peters said.
It actually is nice that the article points out the trade-offs that exist with different types of protection. One would think that the cowboys themselves might be best able to make that judgement.
11/15/04 Some Employers in Oklahoma are trying to change law that allows people to take guns onto company property
Why does this seem to be such a difficult point to understand? Banning guns from certain areas mean that only those intent on doing the harm will be armed and that the law protects the criminals and not the victims.
Well, you have heard of assault rifles, now a new British law aims to ban assault knives. The article notes that "Over the past four years the number of incidents involving knives has risen by 350%." As reported violent crime in Britain has risen so quickly over the last five years or so, it is becoming difficult for the government to figure out what else to ban. A toy gun ban was being debated seriously earlier this year. I was just thinking today about how little we are hearing in the US about the sunsetting of the assault weapons ban in the US. Hopefully, the US government will quickly deal the spread of assault knives in the US.
11/11/04 Illinois State Senate overrides Governor's veto on Gun Bill
It looks like there will soon be a big dent in Illinois gun bans:
11/10/04 John Fund on the Voting Process in New Mexico:
When a race is close, all sorts of bizarre things happen:
Yesterday afternoon, [New Mexico] Democratic Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron asked the state Supreme Court to overturn lower court ruling that had allowed Republican observers into the polls in Sandoval and Dona Ana counties. She also seeks to overturn a decision by the Bernalillo County Clerk to allow observers there. In her court filing, she contends state law doesn't provide for challengers to be part of the review process.
But cynics point out that she filed her petition shortly after the Bernalillo County Clerk told media outlets that observers had discovered instances of voter fraud during the qualification of provisional ballots. Provisional votes are cast by people whose names did not appear on registration rolls but nonetheless were allowed to vote pending verification of their eligibility. In counting the first 5,000 provisional ballots in Bernalillo County, observers turned up 53 instances of individuals voting more than once. They also found four voters who were dead and dozens of felons attempting to vote. In two cases, the same individual tried to vote three times: early, absentee and on Election Day.
Double voting appears to fall into two categories: voters who themselves may have voted multiple times, and those whose votes were essentially stolen. Dwight Atkins of Albuquerque attempted to vote on Election Day, only to discover that someone had already voted early in his name. Rosemary McGee showed up to vote at 3 pm on Election Day. But someone had voted in her place at 7:00am (the imposter actually misspelled her name on the signature roster). Both were shocked to learn that if an imposter votes first, the fraudulent ballot will stand, and the provisional ballot, cast later by the legitimate voter, will be disqualified.
Earlier this year, when Secretary of State Vigil-Giron went to court to prevent expanded enforcement of the state's requirement that first-time voters show a photo ID, New Mexico Democrats insisted voter fraud didn't exist in New Mexico. So much for that argument. But now it appears that local Democrats are willing to go to court to make sure more evidence of it doesn't turn up.
11/6/04 Reaction by the Left to Republican Victories
Here are some of the hysterical comments from those on the Left:
“Can a people that believes more fervently in the Virgin Birth than in evolution still be called an Enlightened nation?... In fact, we now resemble [modern Europe] less than we do our putative enemies. Where else do we find fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity? Not in France or Britain or Germany or Italy or Spain. We find it in the Muslim world, in Al Qaeda, in Saddam Hussein's Sunni loyalists. Americans wonder that the rest of the world thinks us so dangerous, so single-minded, so impervious to international appeals. They fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed.” -- Gary Wills, New York Times, November 4, 2004
“President Bush isn't a conservative. He's a radical -- the leader of a coalition that deeply dislikes America as it is. Part of that coalition wants to tear down the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, eviscerating Social Security and, eventually, Medicare. Another part wants to break down the barriers between church and state . . . . Democrats mustn't give up the fight. What's at stake isn't just the fate of their party, but the fate of America as we know it.” -- Paul Krugman, New York Times, November 5, 2004
“W. doesn't see division as a danger. He sees it as a wingman. The president got re-elected by dividing the country along fault lines of fear, intolerance, ignorance and religious rule . . . . W. ran a jihad in America so he can fight one in Iraq -- drawing a devoted flock of evangelicals, or ‘values voters,’ as they call themselves, to the polls by opposing abortion, suffocating stem cell research and supporting a constitutional amendment against gay marriage. Mr. Bush, whose administration drummed up fake evidence to trick us into war with Iraq, sticking our troops in an immoral position with no exit strategy, won on ‘moral issues.’” -- Maureen Dowd, New York Times, November 4, 2004
“[W]hat troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don't just favor different policies than I do -- they favor a whole different kind of America. We don't just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is . . . . Mr. Bush's base is pushing so hard to legislate social issues and extend the boundaries of religion that it felt as if we were rewriting the Constitution, not electing a president.” -- Tom Friedman, New York Times, November 4, 2004
“Let's be honest: We are aghast at the success of a campaign based on vicious personal attacks, the exploitation of strong religious feelings and an effort to create the appearance of strong leadership that would do Hollywood proud. We are alarmed that so many of our fellow citizens could look the other way and not hold Bush accountable for utter incompetence in Iraq and for untruths spoken in defense of the war . . . . And we are disgusted that an effort consciously designed to divide the country did exactly that -- and won . . . . Radical efforts to destroy the achievements of progressive government should not be undertaken on the basis of a slim majority. The word'reform' should not be hijacked as a cover for whatever the president wants to do to favor the interests that support him.” -- E.J. Dionne, Washington Post, November 5, 2004
“I grew up in Missouri and most of my family voted for Bush, so I am going to be the one to say it: The election results reflect the decision of the right wing to cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry. I suppose the good news is that 55 million Americans have evaded the ignorance-inducing machine. But 58 million have not... [Cheney and Bush] know no boundaries or rules. They are predatory and resentful, amoral, avaricious, and arrogant. Lots of Americans like and admire them because lots of Americans, even those who don't share those same qualities, don't know which end is up. Can the Democrats appeal to such voters? Do they want to? The Republicans have sold their souls for power. Must everyone?” -- Jane Smiley, “The Unteachable Ignorance of the Red States,” Slate, November 4, 2004
“The other side may be euphoric, but the intensity of their happiness can't match the intensity of our despair. Honest conservatives, even those who admire President Bush, know he didn't earn a second term. They know he staked his presidency on a catastrophe, and that, by all rights, Iraq should be his political epitaph. Their victory, while sweet, can't be fully enjoyed because it isn't fully deserved.”-- Peter Beinart, The New Republic, November 15, 2004
“Ok, it sucks. Really Sucks . . . . Once again we are reminded that the buckeye is a nut, and not just any old nut—a poisonous nut. A great nation was felled by a poisonous nut . . . . Should Bush decide to show up to work and take this country down a very dark road, it is also just as likely that either of the following two scenarios will happen: a) Now that he doesn’t ever need to pander to the Christian conservatives again to get elected, someone may whisper in his ear that he should spend these last four years building ‘a legacy’ so that history will render a kinder verdict on him and thus he will not push for too aggressive a right-wing agenda; or b) He will become so cocky and arrogant -- and thus, reckless -- that he will commit a blunder of such major proportions that even his own party will have to remove him from office.” -- Michael Moore, November 5, 2004
11/6/04 More on Liberals Reaction to Republican Victories
Compare these two statements. The first is by some Democrats complaining about the rest of the country. The second is by Bill Clinton.
Despite 100 percent of the vote being counted in Ohio, New Mexico, Iowa, and Nevada and Bush having substantial leads in all those states, none of the networks were willing to give Bush over the 269 votes needed to win. NBC and Fox gave Bush Ohio but none of the other three states and thus 269 Electoral Votes. CNN and ABC gave Bush Nevada, but not New Mexico, Iowa nor Ohio. The media just didn't want to claim that Bush had won.
11/2/04 Boston Globe headline: "Crime may be dropping in US, but gun possession is rising"
Updated Media Analysis of Appalachian Law School Attack
Since the first news search was done additional news stories have been
added to Nexis:
There are thus now 218 unique stories, and a total of 294 stories counting
duplicates (the stories in yellow were duplicates): Excel file for
general overview and specific stories. Explicit mentions of defensive gun use
increase from 2 to 3 now.