Israel probably not responsible for Kana Deaths

With questions of whether the deaths of the children in the building at Kana represent a turning point in the war, this has gotten very little attention:

Senior IDF officers told reporters a short time ago that there is a contradiction in the timing of the bombing of the village of Kana and reports of the explosion that killed more than 50 civilians and set off world-wide condemnation of Israel. Air Force Commander Amir Eshel left open the possibility that Hizbullah terrorists blew up the building or that an unknown cause set off explosives which were stored in the structure.

He explained that recorded information shows that Israeli Air Force planes bombed the building between midnight and 1 a.m. and that the next attack at 7:30 a.m. was up to 500 yards away. He said reports of the killing of civilians came around 8 a.m. "It is not clear what happened" between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m., he said.

Brigadier General Ido Nehushtan pointed out that Hizbullah terrorists have fired more than 150 rockets from the village of Kana since the beginning of the war.

Israel's question: How to stop $500 rockets?

Even before fighting escalated this month between the Jewish state and Hezbollah , US contractors had been working to supply Israel with countermeasures against the kind of crude but deadly rockets that the Islamist militia has rained down on the north of the country. Ideas include low-cost interceptor missiles from Raytheon Co. , and a laser system from Northrop Grumman Corp. that the US Army has mothballed for lack of development funds.

The efforts reflect some limitations of the Israeli military, despite having Raytheon's Patriot missile in its arsenal. The Patriot, which can cost around $1 million apiece, is hardly a cost-effective way to knock down the $500 to $2,000 Katyusha rockets that Iran has been supplying to Hezbollah, said John E. Pike , director of GlobalSecurity.org, a defense research group in Alexandria, Va. . . . .


Judge says that it is unconstitutional to search fans attending football games

How can these searches at NFL games be unconstitutional? Is anyone being forced to go to the games? Is there any weight given to keeping fans safe from terrorism?

Comment on Floyd Landis testing positive for testosterone

Does anyone else find it at least slightly amusing that it is the French who find elevated levels of testosterone suspicious?


Tony Blair does a good job explaining the case for the war on terrorism

Hezbollah Terrorists Using UN Troops as Cover

Brit Hume's Special Report explains why Israel had fired on the UN position in Lebanon. According to a Canadian general who spoke with the Canadian member of the UN crew that was killed, Hezbollah was apparently "all over his position and the IDF were targeting them." "Terrorists groups often use the UN troops as shields knowing that they can't be punished." It appears as if the UN is not just sitting there, but actually helping out the terrorists, at least indirectly.


No relation between "power of hurricanes, global warming"?

Store owner defends herself with gun

Savannah/Hilton Head, South Carolina (Wednesday, July 26, 2006) -- “They knew I meant business,” Florence Tolar said, as she remembered the Friday morning encounter.

Her size and sweet demeanor don’t keep her from standing her ground.

“I kept my position just in case those boys came out. I had every opportunity to shoot them,” she said.

She chose to fire her gun at the floor as she was confronted by four young men who were fleeing from police Friday. It’s a choice she says could have easily turned fatal.

"I had to make the decision,” she said. “And I'll tell you- if those boys would have been a little bit taller, a little bit bigger, I would have shot them. And I would have killed them."

“My wife really surprised me, “ Herb Tolar said. “I’m really proud of her that she did what she did.” . . .


"House OKs ban on taking guns during disaster"

Hunting game "popular with urbanites in liberal areas"

A minor complication: getting rid of the electoral college and primaries

I have posted multiple times on the push to end the electoral college. One thing for proponents to at least explain is that if they succeed, what will happen to the primaries? Parties use state primaries as a way of guaging the strength of different candidates, but if there is no electoral college, surely both parties will want to move to a selection process that gets the candidate best suited tp winning the new way of determining the winner in November.

Gun Store Owners: A thankless job

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

It is tough operating a gun shop under harassment from the federal government and unjustified media attacks. But the harassment might soon get a little better, as today the House Judiciary Committee starts marking up a bill by Representatives Howard Coble and Bobby Scott to ease the burden on gun merchants.

According to Justice Department numbers, since Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, the number of federally licensed firearms dealers in the United States has plummeted by 80 percent. Kmart no longer sells guns, Wal-Mart just recently stopped selling guns at a third of its stores, and tens of thousands of other gun shops have gone out of business. With all the talk of the recent legislative success by gun owners, they have been winning some battles but possibly losing the war. Gun-control advocates may be the ones winning where it really counts. . . .

"Seven Nation International Gun Control Effort"


Snakes and human evolution

Levitt's argument for dismissal

Levitt's response to my lawyer's response to their motion to dismiss can be found here.

I haven't really had much of a chance to look at their response so far. A past post on this can be found here.


Woman uses shotgun to stop wolf attack

Woman kills neighbor’s wolves in self-defense
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Randy Ludlow
As an animal lover, Kathy Bryan hated to put them down.

But when the three wolves began trying to encircle her, she felt she didn’t have a choice.

She killed two of them with shotgun blasts. A deputy sheriff later tracked down and shot the third. All had escaped from a pen at a neighbor’s house.

The unusual scene played out Sunday morning at the Bryans’ home on Rock Haven Road near Hanover in Licking County.

She went to investigate when her three dogs began baying. Bryan saw a wolf with its mouth around the neck of Roo the beagle. The wolf was tugging on Roo as if he was trying to yank him off his chain.

After grabbing a shotgun, she fired a warning shot into the air. The wolf let go of Roo, but things became more ominous when all three wolves began to circle her. . . . .


Gun Ownership in Mexico (or the lack of legal gun ownership)

From a Sunday, January 15, 2006 piece in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas)

"Mexico has one of the most restrictive gun control laws in the hemisphere, permitting ownership of a few types of guns, mostly small caliber. The nation of103 million has fewer than 2,500 registered gun owners, according to a recent report in the Los Angeles Times, and the wait for a license can often be more than a year."

I guess that this might help partially explain why the murder rate in Mexico is so much higher than the U.S.'s.

So which side is more heroic?

Thanks to Steve Finefrock for this cartoon.

Polling Data

Which of the following statements comes closer to your view of what Israel should do?

Israel should continue taking military action until
Hezbollah can no longer launch attacks against Israel 39%

Israel should agree to a ceasefire as soon as possible 43%

No opinion 17%

Do you think Israel’s military reaction to the situation in the Middle East has gone too far, not gone far enough, or been about right?

Too far 31%

Not far enough 14%

About right 35%

No opinion 20%

Source: Opinion Research Corporation / CNN
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 633 American adults, conducted on Jul. 19, 2006. Margin of error is 4 per cent.

Some one with a higher pay grade is going to have to explain these poll results for me. How can 49 % of Americans think that the Israeli military response is either about right or not far enough and yet more people say that Israel should agree to a ceasefire instead of "continu[ing] taking military action until Hezbollah can no longer launch attacks against Israel," which is what Israel is doing? I am tired and may be missing something simple, but an explanation would be useful.


More trouble for Senator Joe Lieberman from Bill Clinton

Not quite riding to the rescue. Bill Clinton is going to campaign for Lieberman this week. At first it seemed as if Clinton was riding in to save his old friend (someone who has been his friend since law school). Well, it turns out that Bill Clinton is following Hillary on how to deal with Lieberman after the primary. That is they both will support the Democratic nominee, whoever it is. My question is whether in the long run it is better for Lieberman that Clinton simply not come to campaign for him this week. After all, won't it come back to hurt him more with Democratic voters in the general election to keep reminding them that other major democrats, even the ones who supported him during the primary, left him during the general election?

The poll results were not the only bad news for Mr. Lieberman yesterday. A spokesman for Bill Clinton said the former president will support the winner of the Democratic primary, even if it's not Mr. Lieberman.
"He's known Senator Lieberman for over 30 years and while he doesn't agree with him on every issue he thinks he has been a good senator, has the right position on most key Democratic issues and is going to work to help him win the primary," Jay Carson told the Election Central blog. "However, he respects the primary process and will support the candidate that wins the Democratic Primary and work to help that candidate win."


Close race could determine passage of right-to-carry law in Wisconsin

There are only two states that still ban citizens carrying concealed handguns, Wisconisn and Illinois. Twice in the last few years Wisconsin came with in a vote or two of overriding Democratic Governor Jim Doyle's vetoes, and in both cases the veto was upheld because one or two assembly Democrats switched their votes during the override. If Green wins this extremely close race, right-to-carry will pass (depending on a couple of state assembly races it might pass anyway).

The Badger State’s gubernatorial race is almost even, according to the latest poll by Strategic Vision. 43 per cent of respondents would support incumbent Democrat Jim Doyle, while 42 per cent would vote for Republican challenger Mark Green.

A mid-July poll by Rasmussen Reports gave Doyle a six-point edge. . . .

Concealed handgum permit holder stops knife attack

Brandishing the gun stopped even a crazy person from attacking. Just a question: when a worker shoots a couple of people in the workplace, it is national news. Here we have eight people stabbed, but where is the national coverage? I did a Google news search on "Marcel Ingram" name (the attacker) at 9 PM, but couldn't find a single news story on the incident.

8 Grocery Employees Stabbed in Tennessee
Associated Press Writer
July 21, 2006

A knife-wielding grocery store employee attacked eight co-workers Friday, seriously injuring five before a witness pulled a gun and stopped him . . .

Cope said he grabbed a 9mm semiautomatic pistol from his pickup truck when he saw the attacker chasing the victim "like something in a serial killer movie."

"When he turned around and saw my pistol, he threw the knife away, put his hands up and got on the ground," Cope told The Associated Press. "He saw my gun and that was pretty much it." . . .

"He just kept saying, 'I'm insane. I wish I was never born' and that kind of stuff," Cope said. . . .

Thanks to Dan Gifford for sending this link to me.

Amusing reasons for why people are fatter

The bottom line is that we are getting fatter because we are wealthier, living longer, and obsessed with doing healthy things such as not smoking.

--Comfortable temperatures: When you’re too hot or cold, your body uses energy to warm you up or chill you out. Make the temperature controlled and comfortable and you lose the calorie-burning bonus. (Since 1978, the number of homes with central air conditioning has increased more than 30 percent.)
-- Fewer smokers: It’s no secret that smoking increases metabolism. The question is: What can you do that also revs up your metabolism that doesn’t kill you?
-- More medications: “Many medications, including antidepressants, anticonvulsants and steroid hormones cause weight gain, either by water retention or increased appetite,” explains Ruth DeBusk, Ph.D., R.D., geneticist and registered dietitian in Tallahassee, Fla. and author of "It’s Not Just Your Genes."
-- Population changes: America is growing older and becoming more ethnically diverse, particularly among the Hispanic-American population. Both of these groups, people over the age of 35 and those of Hispanic descent, have above average rates of obesity.
-- Older birth moms: Women are waiting longer to have children. Studies show that an adolescent girl’s risk of becoming obese increases by 14 percent for every five-year increment in maternal age.
-- Prenatal influences: Overweight moms, and those with gestational diabetes, have been linked with bigger babies. In fact, one study found that over-fed pups produced heavier pups than a control group, and the heft persisted for two subsequent generations.
-- Natural selection: According to scientific theory, overweight people out survive their leaner counterparts because they can draw more energy from fat stores. “This might have been true in earlier times, when feast-or-famine was the norm and our hunter-gatherer ancestors physically worked hard to get food,” says DeBusk, “but not today in a time of plenty.”
-- Overweight people procreating: No rocket science here. When two overweight people have kids, their children are more likely to experience weight challenges than a child conceived by skinny people.

Jennifer Granholm: Anti-self-defense Governor forced to sign bills because of tight upcoming election

Opinion polls and facing a tight re-election battle force Michigan Democratic Governor Granholm to sign self-defense bills, but I can only imagine what will happen if she wins re-election and no longer has to worry about re-election, I assume that she will presumably revert back to her normal behavior on guns.

Armed citizens who shoot in self-defense would gain legal protection from civil lawsuits and criminal charges under six bills signed Thursday by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The bill-signings produced barbs between Granholm and a Republican senator who backed the bills.

The legislation, promoted by gun-rights activists, clarifies when a person can use deadly force in self-defense during break-ins, carjackings and other potentially violent crimes -- even in incidents away from the person's home. Local prosecutors still could bring criminal charges if they believe someone was wrongly shot in the name of self-defense. But convictions will be very difficult, said Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, a leading advocate for the new laws.

"This gives the homeowner and people who use firearms to protect themselves an added measure of security against the criminal element," Cropsey said. While Cropsey praised Granholm for signing the bills, he accused her of acting out of election-year politics rather than personal support.

"Her natural constituency is the antigun crowd," he said of Granholm. "She knows the polling data supporting this is so high, she'd be nuts to veto it." . . .

When Granholm was state attorney general, I had a quasi debate with her at a conference on guns put on by Wayne State University, and it was very clear that she felt very strongly in favor of gun control. She was very strongly against the then proposed concealed handgun law, though it is possible that she has learned that the law worked out much better than she believed and I know that she claims that to be the case. Given my brief interaction with her, I have my strong doubts about that. It is my recollection that

Thanks to Matthew Ledyard for sending this to me.

"Former Congressman Sues Mayor Bloomberg"

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr filed a $400 million lawsuit against New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday, claiming Bloomberg's attempt to crack down on gun dealers was "careless, willful and clearly illegal."

The lawsuit, filed in Cobb County Superior Court, came in response to a federal lawsuit filed by Bloomberg in May alleging that 15 firearm brokers in five states, including Georgia, were "rogue gun dealers."

Bloomberg ridiculed the lawsuit as a publicity stunt, telling reporters he was thrilled his name is associated with the other side of the fight: "Hopefully they get the spelling right."

Bloomberg recently went to Georgia and discussed gun control with the mayor of Atlanta, who is part of his coalition of mayors against gun violence.

Barr's lawsuit alleges that Bloomberg made misleading statements to the national media that were defamatory toward Smyrna, Ga., gun dealer Adventure Outdoors.

"We didn't start this fight. They did," Barr told a cheering crowd in Marietta's city square. "But we intend to finish it and win." . . .


Latest numbers show very small additional 2% increase in violent crime in UK

Increasing crime driving increased gun sales

Lieberman having more trouble in Connecticut

From today's Political Journal:

Today's Quinnipiac poll confirms private polling and shows Mr. Lamont surging ahead of the three-term incumbent, 51% - 47%. That's a whopping 19-point swing from Quinnipiac's last poll only six weeks ago, which showed Mr. Lieberman with a 55% - 40% lead. And this is from a poll that's been very kind to the senator. Rasmussen Reports' June survey had Mr. Lieberman ahead only 46% - 40% and was taken at the same time that Quinnipiac pegged Mr. Lieberman's lead at 15. . . .

With the primary fast becoming a lost cause for Mr. Lieberman, the question is whether he can get things turned around in time for the fall. Assuming he loses on August 8th, the senator will likely still lead in the post-primary polls. Right now, both Quinnipiac and Rasmussen have him ahead in a three-way race, by 24 points and 15 points, respectively. But Mr. Lamont will probably get a huge boost from a win in the primary, and Mr. Lieberman will be burdened with the baggage of a humiliating primary rejection. . . .

If he loses the primary, I can only imagine what Lieberman will feel like when Democratic Senators, such as Clinton, come and campaign for te Democratic nominee.


Omaha to allowed concealed handguns

Omaha will allow people to carry concealed handguns. The recently passed concealed handgun law in Nebraska allowed local jurisdictions to opt out and ban carrying in their jurisdiction. So far only Kearney, Nebraska is banning concealed handguns. My prediction is that in a couple of years after people are allowed to carry concealed handguns that even Kearney will change its mind.

Movie on "Radical Islam's war against the west"

Here is a link to what looks to be an interesting movie. It is disappointing that so few people can cause so much trouble.

Bush Vetoes Federal Funding of Stem Cell Research

The media often discusses this as being opposed to science (Bush "vetos stem cell research" without reference in the title to the federal funding), but I view it as solely an issue of federal funding. The current rules do not stop researchers from spending nonfederal money on such research. If the benefits are as large as some people claim, it is not obvious why subsidies are necessary. In general, it is very hard to keep politics out of government research funding, that is true for medical research as it is for other areas. When people put their own money on the line, they are more likely to make the right decision on whether there is a real return from those research investments.

A national voucher program?

Well, this is great, but it would have been nice if they had pushed this a couple of years ago. I never understood how someone could oppose competition in education. Is there any other field, such as cars or food or entertainment or computer programs or health care, where customers would be better off just having the government supply the product? Is there really any explanation for why is education so different? There is a strong argument not to have the federal government involved in local educational decisions, but if it is already involved, why not use some of that money to engender competition?

With Education Secretary Margaret Spellings joining them in a show of support, Congressional Republicans proposed Tuesday to spend $100 million on vouchers for low-income students in chronically failing public schools around the country to attend private and religious schools.

The legislation, modeled on a pilot program here, would pay for tuition and private tutoring for some 28,000 students seeking a way out of public schools that fail to raise test scores sufficiently for at least five years.


Mexicans generally believe the election results

Banning Cigarettes, Now Cooking Oil. Is banning Ice Cream really far behind?

Does what we like to eat matter at all? Can people make any trade-offs of risks for other benefits? Will hang gliding or parachuting be banned because of the risks, with no weight given by the government to the excitement people get from doing those activities? This is a pretty sad state of affairs.

Edward M. Burke, who has served on the Chicago City Council since 1969, . . . is pressing his colleagues to make it illegal for restaurants to use oils that contain trans fats, which have been tied to a string of health problems, including clogged arteries and heart attacks.

If approved, nutrition experts say, the ban will be the first in a major city, following the lead of towns like Tiburon, Calif., just north of San Francisco, where restaurant owners have voluntarily given up the oils. In truth, while the proposal’s prospects are uncertain, Chicago officials have been on a bit of a banning binge these days in what critics mock as City Hall’s effort to micromanage residents’ lives in mundane ways.

The aldermen voted in April to forbid restaurants to sell foie gras. They have weighed a proposal to force cabbies to dress better. And there is talk of an ordinance to outlaw smoking at the beach.


John Fund: Ronnie Earle's Circus continues

John Fund at Political Diary has more on Prosecutor Ronnie Earle's political prosecution of Tom Delay. Ronnie Earle's explanation for why he can't reveal how much money he has spent trying to go after Delay is pretty funny.

But as the case approaches a trial, it's looking increasingly shaky, as are Mr. Earle's latest explanations as to why he has to keep secret the amount of taxpayer money he has expended on it.

In an effort to block newspapers from getting that information, Mr. Earle filed a lawsuit this month arguing that his expenditures are exempt from Texas's open records law. "The requested records, if released, would reveal the mental impressions and legal reasoning of prosecutors regarding trial preparation and trial strategies in several pending criminal cases," Mr. Earle, a Democrat, says in the lawsuit. "Such premature revealing of often sensitive and sometimes life-threatening information could adversely effect public safety."

Legal analysts scoff at suggestions that merely releasing the amount of money Mr. Earle has spent in his Captain Ahab-like pursuit of Mr. DeLay would jeopardize anything other than Mr. Earle's diminishing reputation as an objective prosecutor.

John Fund: The "New New Hillary"

John Fund at Political Diary has some very interesting details on Hillary Clinton's campaign strategy for the presidency. She is picking up issues such as making it illegal to burn the American flag, that she things are not important, but will provide significant cover for her broader liberal agenda. Like John, I worry that by picking some high profile conservative hot button issues for protection she could slip by and get elected president.

. . . . Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic consultant who worked with the former first lady on her 2000 Senate campaign, says Senator Clinton is pursuing the ultimate swing voters, "a group of several hundred thousand culturally conservative white males, largely Catholic, who live in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Someone who carries all of those states in 2008 is likely to become president."

Greg Sargent of the liberal Nation magazine puts it more directly: "She's taking her husband's small-issue centrism -- its trademark combination of big but often hollow gestures toward the center, pragmatic economic populism and incremental liberal policy gains -- and remaking it in her own image, updating it for post-9/11 America with an intense interest in military issues."

The effort is all directed at reintroducing the senator to people who harbor suspicions of her that date back to the Clinton presidency. "People have gained a more complete view of Hillary in the Senate than they had when she was in the White House," says Mandy Grunwald, a Hillary adviser. "People are getting past the cartoon version of her and seeing that she's culturally moderate and sensitive to rural and small-town America."

. . . don't be surprised if she continues to be surprisingly good at winning over audiences with speeches that give no indication that her voting record back in Washington ranks an average of 95% from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action.

Alphecca says that you have been warned

Estimating the cost of terrorism and the benefits from deterring it

An interesting paper from Nicole and Mark Crain:

In this paper we estimate the macroeconomic consequences of terrorism using panel data for 147 countries for the period 1968-2002. We examine the levels of economic output, as opposed to growth rates in economic output, and include an estimate of the cost of unanticipated terrorist events. The analysis covers nearly 12,000 terrorist acts, and the results provide a foundation to compute the costs of terrorism and the benefits of anti-terrorism activities.

To preview a few of the results, we find that the number of terrorist incidents and casualties from terrorist attacks have a substantial impact on economic performance. For example, if Germany deterred one terrorist incident (reducing its historically average rate from 19 to 18) the GDP gains would be $1.6 billion (in 2003 dollars). In the Philippines, a reduction from 9 to 8 incidents would increase its GDP by an estimated $122 million. As we describe in detail, these estimates of the GDP gains from deterrence depend on the extent of terrorism in a particular country because the impact of terrorism on GDP is not linear. These estimates of the economic gains from marginal reductions in terrorism provide a threshold against which a country’s expenditures on anti-terrorism can be weighed.

Awarding $1 million randomly to someone who votes

A really dumb idea.

A proposal to award $1 million in every general election to one lucky resident, chosen by lottery, simply for voting — no matter for whom — has qualified for the November ballot. . . .

It would make more sense to simply divide $1 million by the number of voters and give each person their share. GIven that there are apparently about 2 million voters, give everyone 50 cents. The only people that you are going to attract with this million dollars are fairly unusual risk takers. Why try to primarily attract those types of people?


An example of why the Electoral College is Good

If Mexico had an electoral college, there would not be any possible reason to recount all the votes in the entire country. Even though the overall total was close, the PAN party candidate overwhelmingly carried the states in the northern part of the country and the PRD candidate generally carried Mexico city and the southern states. Could you imagine if it were necessary that we had to recount the ballots for the entire country in 2000 and not just the ballots in Florida?

A leftist candidate claiming fraud robbed him of the presidency led hundreds of thousands of marchers through Mexico's capital Sunday to demand a vote-by-vote recount in the tight election apparently won by his conservative opponent. . . .

Felipe Calderon, of President Vicente Fox's conservative National Action Party led by about 244,000 votes in the official count after the July 2 election.

It is fine for New York Judges to Keep Guns Under Their Robes While They are On the Bench

Another example of where an anti-gun jurisdiction recognizes how useful guns are in protecting people:

NEW YORK Jul 15, 2006 (AP)— It's one way to assure order in the court.

The New York state Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics has ruled that it is permissible for judges to pack a pistol beneath their robes while on the bench.

"From an ethical standpoint, there is no prohibition … barring you from carrying a firearm while performing your duties on the bench," the committee said in a decision published in this week's New York Law Journal.

Judges would have to comply with existing laws to bring a gun into court.

The committee was asked by one of the state's 3,400 judges whether it was "ethically permissible" to carry a pistol into the courtroom. And though it ruled in favor of pistol-packing jurists, the committee warned that judges must "be patient, dignified and courteous" to those appearing before the bench and behave in "a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary." . . . .


A commentary on the political climate: Lieberman's Primary Battle

I agree with Senator Lieberman on very little and I even had a newspaper column debate with him one time on gasoline price controls, but I really hope that he wins the Democratic primary in August. I can only imagine how little cooperation there will be by Democrats with Republicans if Lieberman is defeated.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and one of Mr. Lieberman’s closest friends in the Senate, called him “one of the most decent men I have ever known” and simply shook his head when asked about his friend’s situation. “I hesitate to say anything nice about him, for fear that it would be used against him,” Mr. McCain said. “And that’s a terrible commentary on the state of politics and the political climate today.” . . .

Indeed, there is an unmistakable sense of satisfaction, if not glee, over Mr. Lieberman’s difficulties in the primary, even among people who consider themselves friends. Mr. McCain said: “This is just another of a long list of things I’ve seen that show you have very few friends. So long as you understand that, you can exist happily here. But you shouldn’t delude yourself into thinking people are going to stand by you instead of acting in their self-interests.”


Prohibition on confiscating guns during an emergency passes overwhelmingly

"To prohibit the confiscation of a firearm during an emergency or major disaster if the possession of such firearm is not prohibited under Federal or State law."

Here is the list of Senators who voted against the amendment:

NAYs ---16 (All Democrats)
Akaka (D-HI)
Boxer (D-CA)
Clinton (D-NY)
Dodd (D-CT)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Levin (D-MI)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Reed (D-RI)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schumer (D-NY)

Note of the Democratic Presidential contenders Bayh and Kerry voted for the amendment while Clinton and Dodd voted against it.

UPDATE: See also this article in the Washington Post.

Thanks to Bill St. Clair for correcting this post.

Are these the people who we want teaching our children?

Here are some of the political positions that the National Education Association is advocating (from Jason Riley at Political Diary):

-- a tax-supported, single-payer (i.e., Canadian-style) health care plan for all residents of the United States, its territories and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico;
-- the return of a media "fairness doctrine," which muted broadcast competition for decades;
-- "reproductive freedom";
-- a national holiday honoring Cesar Chavez;
-- a nuclear freeze;
-- a moratorium on capital punishment at the state and federal levels;
-- "U.S. participation in and equitable financing of the United Nations and related bodies";
-- "a progressive tax system," and -- was there ever a doubt -- "restoring the estate tax."

I also heard a week or so ago that they came out for recognizing same sex marriage. My question is: which ones of these positions are related to their teaching jobs?

One gun ban that is working very well

Defending the Law and Economics Center at George Mason University


"BRAZILIAN GUN BAN - The participation of Movimento Viva Brasil in the Referendum"

Bene Barbosa sent me a copy of this article from Brazil

Mr. Bene Barbosa – President – with a John Lott Book

The participation of Movimento Viva Brasil in the Referendum

When Movimento Viva Brasil was founded in August 2004, it represented not only the wishes but also the hopes of a group of idealists who had always fought for their civil rights, especially the right to self-defense.

Lead by Bene Barbosa, a mid-school teacher, dedicated defender of people’s civil rights and individual freedom for more than 10 years, Movimento Viva Brasil started a serious discussion about the lack of effective national security policies, which was being masked by some people with a Disarmament Campaign of honest citizens.

Movimento Viva Brasil was founded with the objective of showing and informing the Brazilian population about what in fact was behind the Disarmament Campaign, suggested by the Disarmament Statute, and to put an end to the fallacies suggested by the anti-gun supporters, in defense of the Referendum and the Prohibition Campaign.

The Congress

The battle that took place in the National Congress was long and hard. Always present in Brasilia, Movimento Viva Brasil followed all the steps to the MP’s voting that approved the referendum. It also worked together with the few politicians that questioned the Disarmament Statute and the absurd idea of taking this right away from the citizens.

On several occasions, the national and regional coordination of Movimento Viva Brasil tried to arrange a meeting with Senator Renan Calheiros, President of the Brazilian Senate, to discuss the Disarmament Statute, the campaign and the Referendum but was never received by the Senator.

At the House of Representatives however, Movimento Viva Brasil was received by the then President of the House, Severino Cavalcanti, together with many other entities and associations for human rights, families of victims of violence, country folks, sporting shooters (of which Brazil once won a gold medal in the Olympic Games), and several other entities and people, determined not to lose their right to purchase firearms and ammunition.
It was one of the most remarkable moments in our fight. The banner “Disarming the citizen is not the solution” was printed on T-shirts of all those who were present at the Cabinet of the House of Representatives President.

The press

It had always been part of Movimento Viva Brasiil’s policies to inform the population about the facts of the Referendum but it had a lot of difficulty in getting the necessary exposure due to the posture of the media at large, practically made up by people willing to defend the more “politically correct” position. Unfortunately a large part of the Brazilian press was not interested in listening to what Movimento Viva Brasil had to say despite all the information and statistics that were offered to journalists to analyze.

However, thanks to an excellent communication strategy, Movimento Viva Brasil conquered space in the regional communication channels and in the Internet, from where broadcasted information reached the population and opinion-makers.

Movimento Viva Brasil gradually gained visibility as a sound source of information and had a positive participation in a series of interviews and debates on television and the radio.

Parallel to that, various other idealists from different regions of the country gathered together and joined the fight. Movimento Viva Brasil managed to gather some voluntary regional coordinators in different States and it was then able to create a solid information web. The president of Movimento Viva Brasil himself traveled around the country, participating in interviews and debates, public audiences, visiting trade unions and institutions.

The Parliamentary front

A lot of effort had to be directed towards the Members of Parliament during the Referendum’s approval process. Unfortunately not enough to avoid the Referendum itself. A great mass of government’s allies in the Congress, together with NGO’s financed by foreign money, put all their effort into the approval of the Referendum. And it was the Brazilian population, eager for realistic and effective measures towards public security that had to pay approximately R$600 million for the Referendum.

In March 2005, even before the Referendum was approved by the Congress, Movimento Viva Brasil and Alberto Fraga MP created the Non-partisan Committee for Self Defense Rights (Comitê Suprapartidário Pela Legítima Defesa), which later became the Parliamentary Front for Self Defense Rights (Frente Parlamentar pelo Direito à Legítima Defesa), defending the victorious “NO” Vote.

Opinion pools started to show voting intentions of the population. Some sectors of the media however, with the clear intention of confusing the electorate about their vote, misled the population into believing that the election was about Disarmament, and that if Prohibition was passed, the crime levels would have a considerable drop. For some time these lies succeeded, and voting intention pools indicated that 80% of the electorate tended to vote “YES” (in favor of the prohibition).

The turning point

We would have to be very efficient to pass to the electorate realistic information about what was really behind the Referendum so that they knew exactly what they were voting for or against. Our PR, Chico Santa Rita, was in charge of all campaign publicity matters and was determined that the arguments should focus on civil rights and individual freedom. From then on, the lies, fallacies, fake numbers, and manipulated statistics used by the anti-gun campaigners started to be exposed. Soon most citizens had realized what the Referendum was all about, and were determined not to give up their rights particularly when their right to make choices was at stake.

It was then that we had what could be called the “turning point”. Opinion pools started to show that voting intentions were now on an equal basis, and the media could no longer continue to manipulate the facts. By then, Movimento Viva Brasil had become a sound source of information for journalists covering the event. The “NO” Vote was starting to gain strength, especially after the free TV and radio campaigns were under way.
After only twenty days of free national TV and radio campaign and two days before the voting, opinion pools indicated that 49% of the electorate already intended to vote “NO” towards Prohibition, against 45% towards the “YES” Vote.

The victory

During the days that preceded the election, there was no end of demonstrations and protests clearly showing what great part of the Brazilian population intended to vote for on 23 October.
Brazilians were prepared to say one big “NO” to Prohibition – 64% of the population did so.”

Vote today on Preventing Firearms from being Seized During an Emergency

Well, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) has offered his language as an amendment to the Homeland Security appropriations bill (HR 5441). His amendment will probably be voted on later today.

Yesterday, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Vitter documented the gun confiscation that occurred in his state last September. "Certain law-enforcement authorities confiscated legally-held firearms by law-abiding citizens," Vitter said. "Not a few, not a dozen, not two dozen, but literally thousands were confiscated by law-enforcement officials."

Vitter noted how even after a district court ordered the guns to be returned, New Orleans police superintendent Warren Riley stated in a June 6 radio interview that his officers would "confiscate guns again" if another similar disaster should strike New Orleans.

Earlier this year, the state of Louisiana enacted legislation to stop this kind of abuse. Vitter acknowledged that. But legislation is still needed, he said, to prevent federal officials from engaging in the same activity. (Keep in mind that federal agents also participated in the gun thefts last September in New Orleans.)

Vitter's amendment would prohibit the executive department from temporarily or permanently seizing firearms during a disaster or emergency. . . .


"What Mexico can teach the United States."

The American League Wins Again!

It was starting to look a little worrisome for a while there tonight, but the American League pulled it out at the end powered by Texas Ranger Michael Young's two-run triple.


Gov. Bush on Why Crime has Fallen for 14 straight years in Florida

National Education Association: "Pays Opponents Of No Child Left Behind Law"

USA Today reports that "The nation's largest teachers union has spent more than $8 million in a stealth campaign against President Bush's education reform law, paying for research and political opposition in an effort to derail it, according to a Washington think tank that supports the law." I suppose that this would appear less problematic if the research had been done before the funding was given, but the main issue is that the teachers' union secretly gave money for these studies to be done and even more important the researchers did not reveal this funding. The NEA undoubtedly knows what conclusion these researchers are going to reach even if there isn't a quid pro quo.

Interestingly, this was only discovered because of new reporting requirements. USA Today reports that "Joe Williams examined U.S. Labor Department LM-2 forms, which unions had to begin filing last year, and found that the NEA spent about $7.65 million supporting a start-up lobbying group called Communities for Quality Education, which has been critical of the law. The NEA also has funded, to a much lesser extent, other groups critical of the law, including the National Conference of Black Mayors, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Harvard Civil Rights Project."

Lott v. Levitt Response FIled

Yesterday my lawyer filed a response to Levitt and HaperCollin's motion to dismiss the defamation case. For those interested, the response can be found here.

A past post on this can be found here.


12 Year Old South Carolina Boy Saves Family by Brandishing Gun

Greenville, SC
12 Year Old Points Gun at Burglars; Group Takes Off
July 10, 2006 09:40 PM
An accused group of thugs-- thwarted by a 12-year old with a gun. It happened in Greenville when police say five masked men stormed into a house and started beating up the child's father.

FOX Carolina's Jamie Guirola reports, Try and picture it. A 12 year old walks into the living room, sees his mother frantically protecting the baby, and several strangers attacking his father. The 12 year old rushes out of the living room-- but comes back pointing a gun at the five suspects. As of Monday night-- all but one are in jail.

These are the alleged home invaders without their masks. The youngest barely seventeen, the oldest just 20. George Dickert didn't have time to think about their ages when he tells us they broke into his home and tried to rob his family.

George Dickert/Victim: "F*$# you! That's what I was thinking."

Sunday night, George says, one of the suspects in the group followed him into his house after he smoked a cigarette. He tells us the man pulled out a gun, threatening him. When George reached for a different gun in self-defense a fight broke out.

George: "I work five days a week and my wife works six days a week. We're an honest couple. We do what we have to do to make a living and some idiot decided he wanted what I had."

When the struggle started, police say, two other men came into the house and started beating on George. That's when George's 12 year old made the move credited with scaring the accused thugs out of the house-- and stopping the burglary-- without even firing the gun.'

George: "He did what he had to do to protect his family last night. And a 12 year old child should never have to go through that. Even if he does know what to do, he should not have to do that." . . . .

Thanks very much to Darren L. Higginbotham for sending me this link. As I wrote in The Bias Against Guns, the media is very reluctant to publicize these types of defensive gun use stories.

The only type of defensive gun use case that the NY Times reports

When I wrote The Bias Against Guns, the only type of defensive gun use case that I found in the NY Times was one where an off-duty cop had stopped an armed robbery at a gasoline station.

An off-duty police officer driving home from work in the Bronx early yesterday shot a man in the face when the man tried to steal his car at gunpoint, the police said. The man ran, but was captured several minutes later, according to the police.

In spite of his wound, the suspect, Daniel Arroyo, 22, of Hoe Avenue in Crotona Park East was reported in fair condition at Jacobi Medical Center, where he was under police guard. He was charged with attempted robbery, assault and weapons counts. The police said that his gun, a .380-caliber semiautomatic, was found near the officer's vehicle, cocked and loaded.

The officer, Kenneth O'Connor, 34, an 11-year veteran of the department, works in the 47th Precinct, where the shooting occurred.

Officer O'Connor had just left the Laconia Avenue station house and was headed home when Mr. Arroyo approached his Ford Explorer at East 223rd Street and Schieffelin Avenue in Williamsbridge about 12:20 a.m., according to the police. He then pointed his gun at the officer and demanded the car, the police said.

Officer O'Connor drew his off-duty weapon, a .38-caliber revolver, and fired once, the police said, striking Mr. Arroyo in the face. Mr. Arroyo dropped his gun and ran a block to Eastchester Road while Officer O'Connor called the police on his cellphone, the police said. Officers arrested Mr. Arroyo a short time later. . . . .


Ann Coulter's publisher and syndication group don't think she plagiarized

As I noted earlier, I am not surprised that Ann is vindicated. What evidence of the claims that I saw looked amazingly week. Remind me not to put too much faith in the computer programs that is used to supposedly identify plagarists (in this case iThenticate).

Universal Press Syndicate said today that it doesn't think controversial columnist Ann Coulter is guilty of plagiarism.

In a statement sent to E&P, Universal President and Editor Lee Salem said: "Last week a software program company official ran Ann Coulter's columns through a 'match-text' program, frequently used by teachers to detect original work. The New York Post cited two columns in which some text matched other published materials and also mentioned three snippets in her book, 'Godless, The Church of Liberalism.'

"In addition to looking at the columns mentioned in the New York Post story, we also reviewed a sampling of other columns that have been mentioned in the media. Like her book publisher, Crown, Universal Press Syndicate finds no merits to the allegations of plagiarism brought by the software company executive. There are only so many ways you can rewrite a fact and minimal matching text is not plagiarism. . . . .

See also a recent AP story on this..

3 AM Home Breakin Stopped with Gun

Blue State, Red State, Mexican Style

Not surprisingly, Mexico has its own geographic polarization. John Fund has a nice summary of this at Opinionjournal's Political Diary:

The results, which will no doubt be contested, paint a fascinating picture of a Mexico split between a modern northern half that has benefited from the free-trade agreement with the U.S., and a Mexico in the south that remains largely poor and wedded to the tradition of support from the state. In some ways, it's Mexico own version of blue and red states.

In the states that are closest to the U.S. border, Mr. Calderon won a smashing 47% to 22% victory. At the same time Mr. Lopez Obrador, a former firebrand mayor of Mexico City, won his home base by 49% to 32%. A critical swing area proved to be the fast-growing Yucatan states, which so many Americans are familiar with for having vacationed in Cancun and Cozumel. Although located in the south, that area went for Mr. Calderon by about 200,000 -- precisely his nationwide margin.

The sore losers in Mr. Lopez Obrador camps, along with his U.S. sympathizers, will claim their man's loss is a defeat for Mexico's poor. But that's not what the exit polls show. Among the poorest fifth of Mexicans, Mr. Lopez Obrador only won by 34% to 31% over Mr. Calderon, with the remainder of the vote going to a candidate from the once-dominant PRI party. Many poor Mexicans warmed to Mr. Calderon's calls to open up the economy and rejected Mr. Lopez Obrador's promises of state pensions for all those over age 70. Conversely, while Mr. Calderon carried the top fifth of Mexican income earners, his victory was only by a margin of 50% to 30%. "Many public-sector and university graduates with high incomes supported Lopez Obrador out of some combination of economic interest and leftist conviction," says Michael Barone, the author of the Almanac of American Politics, who is reporting from Mexico.


Do hunter safety classes matter?

These changes back and forth would provide a nice empirical test for whether these hunting education classes actually improve hunter safety. I haven't looked at the data, but my guess is that they don't matter with respect to safety, though they will probably affect the number of hunters.

New hunters in Massachusetts will have to complete a hunter education course before heading for the woods, under a bill signed into law yesterday by Gov. Mittt Romney. . . .

Prior to the 1998 gun control law, in order to get a hunting license a person would either have to have carried a license prior to Jan. 1, 1997, or have taken a 15-hour hunter education course administered by the state division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

The 1998 law, according to Wallace, was "poorly written" to allow anyone who carried a firearms license or a firearms identification card to go hunting without a hunter education course. . . . .

Rod Blagojevich again on guns: will Southern Illinois learn this time?

Can Blagojevich again convince southern Illinois voters that they can trust him again on issues such as guns. Given his vetoes and acknowledgement that he has gone back on promises, I don't know how they can trust him again.

Four years ago, Rod Blagojevich, a lifelong Chicagoan with a history of supporting gun-control, stunned the Illinois political world by convincing culturally conservative voters throughout Southern Illinois to help put him in the governor's office.

Now gunning for re-election, Blagojevich is attempting another downstate surprise. But it may prove more elusive this time, as he tries to stay out of the crossfire of the state's continuing gun-control debate. . . .

After four years of sometimes strained relations with Southern Illinois - over things like prison employment cutbacks, budgetary largess aimed at Chicago, and the governor's continuing support of certain gun-control measures


Impossible to believe news: Ann Coulter accused of plagarism

27 people injured by elderly man driving a car through a crowd

Car Drives Into Crowd at Connecticut Festival, Injuring 27

These headline always strike me as a little wierd in that it seems to imply that the car did this on its own. Two of these 27 people from this tragedy are apparently in very serious condition and it is not yet clear what will happen with them. It is ironic that the article has an advertisement for "AARP Auto Insurance," but there is no discussion in the article about allowing elderly people to drive. It seems to me that several of these cases recently involve older drivers. One exception was the case in North Carolina where a Muslim used his SUV to attack non-Muslims. In any case, could one imagine the news coverage if a gun had been used to wound 27 people?

Some neat water pistols

Are metal bats riskier than wood bats?


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.


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


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.


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.