The risks of ticket scalping

I don't think that this provides an efficiency explanation for banning ticket scalping, but innovations in fraud such as this will sure create a greater discount on scalped tickets.

Ticketmaster said Tuesday it had invalidated more than 1,000 tickets to concerts in Barbra Streisand's upcoming national tour after discovering they were bought with a stolen credit card then resold on the Internet.

In a posting on its Web site, the company warned fans they might have one of the canceled tickets if they did not buy directly from Ticketmaster or a venue box office. . . . .

By the way, I thought that she has had many times given her last public concert.

What is happening with gun crime in South Africa

Mayor Bloomberg interfering with enforcement of gun sale laws

More than three months after Mayor Bloomberg's announcement that he had sent private investigators into five states to catch gun dealers making illegal sales, he is refusing to turn over the evidence they've gathered to the federal agency that investigates illegal guns.

Analysts said the impasse may have slowed the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in its investigation of and possible action against gun dealers that broke the law.

The city won't turn over the evidence, which includes videotapes of gun dealers allowing so-called straw purchases of guns, until the ATF signs an evidence-sharing agreement that would prohibit the agency from "publicly disclosing evidence without notice and consent from the city," the mayor's criminal justice coordinator, John Feinblatt, said. . . . .

South Africa: And we think that our police have problems?

With the inability of police to protect people, you might think that there might be a little sympathy about letting people protect themselves with guns.

POLICE in South Africa, which has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world, have been told to ride donkeys or bicycles to crime scenes.

The advice, offered by a smiling Charles Nqakula, the country’s embattled Minister of Safety and Security, to a passing-out parade for new recruits, drew immediate criticism.

Mr Nqakula was responding to complaints that because his force was undermanned and underequipped, officers were often slow to reach the scene of a crime. “If you don’t have a car, ride a bicycle or a donkey,” Mr Nqakula told the newly qualified officers at the weekend. His remarks came after an upsurge in armed attacks and concern that the country’s criminals are better equipped than its police.

“This is typical of the complacency of a government which is no longer accountable to any except its own,” a spokesperson for the opposition Democratic Alliance said.

The South African murder rate is second only to that of Colombia and reported rape cases rank among the highest in the world. Residents are 12 times more likely to be murdered in South Africa than in the United States and 50 times more likely than in Europe. The issue of violent crime has resurfaced recently after the country’s successful bid to host the football World Cup in 2010 and growing concerns that the event could be tarnished by attacks on visitors unless the Government brings crime under control.

This week the Government bowed to criticism and announced a new drive against crime with the backing of big business. However, there are frequent complaints about long delays between reporting a crime and police arriving at the scene. Most ordinary South Africans say that there is a huge gap between the Government’s promised action and the reality on the ground. . . . .

Thanks for sending this, Dan GIfford.


One reason gun control isn't working in Canada

Katrina residents have taken crime with them

New Orleans high crime rate has been transfered to other cities as its former residents have moved.

The murder rate in the Texan city has soared by almost 20 per cent since 150,000 Katrina evacuees arrived in August last year. According to police
statistics, they are involved - as victim or killer - in one of every five homicides.

In the gun stores and on the shooting ranges of America's oil industry capital, business is booming as fearful locals take their defence into their own hands and buy concealed weapons licences that allow them to travel armed. . . . . .

This is something that I don't believe that I have seen studied in an academic paper. Steve Bronars and I have a paper on geographical movement of crime in the May 1998 AER, but that is the closest thing that I know of.


Even amphetamines banned from baseball. Is coffee next?

The military gives amphetamines to pilots, people in a huge number of jobs rely on them, but no longer are they allowed in baseball. Why is this so bad? Selig's statement that he doesn't hope that it has any effect on the quality of the game seems like wishful thinking.

Last week, the baseball season passed the three-quarters pole in its grueling schedule of 162 games spread out over 183 days. With the late-summer heat and the accumulated fatigue taking their toll on players' bodies, it is the time of year when in past seasons the use of amphetamines, long considered an integral part of the major league experience, would typically be at its peak.

However, this being the first year of baseball's ban on amphetamines -- also known as "greenies," "beans" and several other nicknames -- players no longer have that option, a reality that some observers believe has had a subtle effect on the game.

"I definitely know there are some guys who get to a Sunday day game, after a Saturday night game, and say, 'Man, I wish I had a greenie.' I've heard guys say that," Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo said. "So there's probably been some small effect. But I don't think it's been as noticeable as people thought it would be."

Baseball's steroid-testing program is now in its fourth season and its third incarnation, having been strengthened twice under pressure from the federal government. However, until last November baseball had resisted banning amphetamines, synthetic stimulants that, some within the game argued, were not true performance-enhancers -- an assertion that is contradicted by leading authorities on the use of drugs in sports.. . . .

Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig was asked during the all-star break last month about the belief that the quality of play would decline this summer because of the amphetamine ban. "I know there are some people who feel that way," he said. "I hope the quality of play does not change. You can do a lot of other things -- [such as] get a good night's rest." . . . .

A history of amphetamines is provided here. The interesting note is the use of amphetamines in mountain climbing (may be auto racing also) where I would think that there is a strong argument that amphetamines are possible life saving drugs. For that matter, this could be true for more than a few of the sports that they list.

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California Senate Passes "Microstamping" Gun Bill

The bill passed the California Senate 22-18

The California Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would require the "microstamping" of semi-automatic handguns -- giving cartridges fired from those guns a unique imprint, which according to gun control advocates, would help police solve crimes. . . .

But the California NRA Members' Councils says the microstamping would create false evidence trails.

"Micro-stamped cartridge cases fired and abandoned at government agencies facilities or private shooting ranges could be gathered and used to 'seed' crime scenes with the with 'evidence,' implicating law enforcement officers and citizens" in crimes they had nothing to do with, the group said in an analysis on its website.

The gun-rights group also said microstamped cartridges could not be recycled because they might implicate secondary users of reloaded cartridges. "Millions of pounds of metals will be turned into scrap and require expense disposal requirements imposed so it will not enter landfills."

And without the ability to sell and recycle used (microstamped) cartridge cases, the cost of firearms training will increase for government agencies, the gun rights group added.

Second Amendment supporters also note that microstamps can be easily defeated by replacing parts of the handgun that have been stamped; polishing the microstamp with abrasives or modifying the stamp; and in some cases, the stamped markings may be filled in with residue produced by normal firing of the gun.

Paul Helmke, the new president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, applauded the California State Senate for "embracing this innovative technology," and he said he hopes Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "will listen to a fellow Republican and sign this bill once it passes." . . . .

Another story reports that:

But Fotis, a retired, career police officer, calls the idea of "micro-stamping" shell casings "vaguely described and untested technology."

"This idea won't reduce crime on the streets," Fotis said. "LEAA stands with California sheriffs and other law enforcement leaders who have voiced their clear and strong opposition to AB 352."

Anthony Craver, sheriff-coroner of Mendocino County, Calif., was more direct in his assessment of whether or not the bill would "help police," as Dix claimed.

"With millions upon millions of existing handguns owned in California," Craver said, "the probability of this bill having any positive effect on public safety is absurd."

Orange County, Calif., Sheriff-Coroner Michael Carona agreed.

"I cannot see any benefit," Carona said, "other than the simple act of symbolism in the passage of AB 352."

Technology to "micro-stamp" shell casings in a semiautomatic pistol as they are chambered or fired is not commercially available. Firearms experts argue that normal wear and tear within even a seldom-fired gun would interfere with such technology. They warn that the part or parts used to "micro-stamp" the casing would also be subject to tampering or easy removal.

In a joint letter, Modoc County, Calif., Sheriff Bruce Mix and District Attorney Jordan Funk wrote that the proposal would "unnecessarily complicate and hinder proven crime-solving strategies."

Fotis notes that those "proven crime-solving strategies" require something the California legislature cannot afford to squander: funding.

"California is in the midst of a severe money shortage for fighting crime," Fotis wrote.

"Rather than pursuing AB 352, which is costly, unproven, unnecessary-and would ultimately be shown to be ineffective in stopping crime-law enforcement would rather see the money and legislative effort spent on increasing prison space and helping cops on the street break the back of gangs!" Fotis added.

Fotis concludes that the bill "cannot be expected to provide any measurable impact on major crimes like murder." . . . .


Thomas Sowell on crime

Lawsuits Coming over Blackberry addiction?

Sarbanes-Oxley might get Al Gore

This is pretty ironic. Liberal Democrats pushed hard for Sarbanes-Oxley, which has made corporate board members so risk averse because of the liability that they now face. The irony here would be if Sarbanes-Oxley got a liberal politician in a lot of trouble. I don't think that Gore should be in trouble for these types of violations, but then again it would be nice if he at least called for getting rid of the law entirely (I really doubt that will happen).

Everyone knows the former Veep is on Apple's board, but he's also on the board's compensation committee. That raises the odds that he could land on the hot-seat if it turns out that Apple's stock options "irregularities" are of the sort that lead to civil or even criminal charges. In fact, former members of the comp committee at Mercury Interactive were notified by the SEC in June that they're likely to face civil charges. With that instance in mind, one SEC expert who requested anonymity says: “If there’s a problem at Apple, Gore's globe is going to be warming.” Call it An Inconvenient Truth. . . . .


Weird court decisions

Requiring some direct evidence of a crime would be nice.

A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that if a motorist is carrying large sums of money, it is automatically subject to confiscation. In the case entitled, "United States of America v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit took that amount of cash away from Emiliano Gomez Gonzolez, a man with a "lack of significant criminal history" neither accused nor convicted of any crime.

On May 28, 2003, a Nebraska state trooper signaled Gonzolez to pull over his rented Ford Taurus on Interstate 80. The trooper intended to issue a speeding ticket, but noticed the Gonzolez's name was not on the rental contract. The trooper then proceeded to question Gonzolez -- who did not speak English well -- and search the car. The trooper found a cooler containing $124,700 in cash, which he confiscated. A trained drug sniffing dog barked at the rental car and the cash. For the police, this was all the evidence needed to establish a drug crime that allows the force to keep the seized money.

Associates of Gonzolez testified in court that they had pooled their life savings to purchase a refrigerated truck to start a produce business. Gonzolez flew on a one-way ticket to Chicago to buy a truck, but it had sold by the time he had arrived. Without a credit card of his own, he had a third-party rent one for him. Gonzolez hid the money in a cooler to keep it from being noticed and stolen. He was scared when the troopers began questioning him about it. There was no evidence disputing Gonzolez's story.

Yesterday the Eighth Circuit summarily dismissed Gonzolez's story. It overturned a lower court ruling that had found no evidence of drug activity, stating, "We respectfully disagree and reach a different conclusion... Possession of a large sum of cash is 'strong evidence' of a connection to drug activity." . . . .

Thanks to Don Kates for sending me this link.

Daily Kos compares Terrorists to Americans in the American Revolutionary War

A post by a Democratic Congressional candidate on the leftwing Daily Kos website compares terrorists in Iraq to Americans in the American Revolutionary War. I can give you one obvious difference: the popularly elected Iraqi government is begging for American help in fighting these terrorists.

It is important to distinguish between the militia, or death squads and the resistance, particularly when considering the amnesty aspects of the Reconciliation Plan crafted in Cairo last month. Over 95% of the Iraqi people oppose the presence of the U.S. troops in their country and consider the people the U.S. call "insurgents" to be patriotic freedom fighters -- no different that how we look at the people who fought in our Revolutionary War. Heroic titles go to the victors and if justice is to ever come to the people of Iraq, the people we call insurgents will have to be recognized as the ones who are actually defending their homeland. . . . .

Thanks to James for sending this to me.


New Research that Abortion Increases Violent Crime Gets Attention

From today's Chicago Sun Times:

A high-profile economist is challenging the conclusion in the best-selling book Freakonomics by University of Chicago professor Steven D. Levitt that the legalization of abortion in the early 1970s led to a major drop in murder and other violent crimes a generation later.

John R. Lott Jr., a former U. of C. economist now teaching in New York, says the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision actually caused violent crime to rise.

Lott and fellow researcher John Whitley plan to publish a paper in October in Economic Inquiry that questions Levitt's research on abortion and crime.

Lott and Levitt already were feuding over Lott's charge that Levitt had defamed him in Freakonomics.

In their new paper, Lott and Whitley say that legalization of abortion prompted a cultural change that increased the number of children born out of wedlock. Those children of unwed mothers caused murders to rise by more than 700 cases in 1998 alone, saddling the public with more than $3.3 billion in "victimization costs," the paper says.

On the other hand, Levitt's research found that Roe v. Wade resulted in a savings of $30 billion a year that crime would have cost the public.

More unwed mothers

His Freakonomics, co-authored by Stephen Dubner and published last year, says legalized abortion led to a large drop in murder and other violent crime in the late 1980s and early '90s, and continues to reduce crime.

The book suggests that if the aborted fetuses had instead been born, they would have become adults more likely to commit crimes because they were unwanted by their mothers.

To illustrate the point, the book says the five states that allowed abortion three years before Roe vs. Wade saw major declines in violent crime between 1988 and 1994 -- earlier than the other states.

But Lott says the Levitt study did not fully consider the increase of children born out of wedlock. His theory is that with the option of abortion, women became more likely to have premarital sex, but then had their babies and raised them as single parents.

Children born out of wedlock have had smaller investments in "human capital" by their parents and are more likely to get into trouble when they grow older, Lott says.

On average, his paper says, about 5 percent of whites were born out of wedlock from 1965 to 1969, rising two decades later to 16 percent. For blacks, the figure rose from about 35 percent to about 62 percent, the paper says.

Before legalized abortion, more than 70 percent of children born out of wedlock ended up in families with a father, but the fraction fell to 44 percent in 1984, according to the paper. . . . .

If you want to read the research, you can find it here. THe newspaper article says that I concede that abortion through its effect on "unwanted" births slightly reduces violent crime, but what I believe that I said is that it is possible. The net effect however is abortion increases violent crime.

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Lynn Swan Rocks

I went to see Lynn Swan give a talk tonight, and he did a great job (two of my sons went and they agree). Hitting Rendell's constant fight to raise taxes, his broken promises on cutting the property tax, the waste in state government and other issues, Swan was rocking. This guy could instantly be on a short list to be president if he wins the race this fall.

Lynn Swan's new TV ad can be found here.

You can donate to him here.

Tribune-Democrat: Ed Rendell is after your guns

They’re at it again. Gun-control advocates and their friends in state government are once again trying to nibble away at your right to own firearms. But you’ve got to hand it to them, as they’re quite crafty.

This latest proposal, which is merely a retread of Gov. Ed Rendell’s 2002 campaign proposal to restrict firearm ownership, would limit handgun purchases to one per month.

It all sounds relatively mild. After all, who would want to purchase more than one handgun per month?

Certainly, the anti-gun crowd would lead us to believe, only criminals would.

This all emanates from a recent spike in gun violence in some of the more populated areas of the state, meaning Philadelphia, where our governor was once mayor and district attorney.

Anti-gun zealots contend that middlemen are buying guns and then selling them to criminals. Their solution: Limit handgun sales.

But the anti-gun advocates, who, if they were honest, would admit that this is just one more step on the road to complete confiscation, are forgetting one very salient point. And that is the very reason why gun rights are so important. . . . .


Hold the presses: I agree with Mayor Daley the foie gras ban is "silly"

Mayor Daley urged the City Council Tuesday to come to its senses and repeal a foie gras ban that has made Chicago an international laughingstock in restaurant circles.

“Why would they pick this and not anything else? How about veal? How about chicken? How about steak — beef?…Where do you begin and where do you end? People say veal is basically cruelty to animals. I mean — you could go on and on,” Daley said.

“They have to re-evaluate this….They should come together and figure out what they’ve done and realize that it’s a silly law….It’s the silliest law they’ve ever passed. They have a lot of silly laws passed there, but this thing is [ridiculous]…If there’s five or six restaurants [that sell foie gras] and we think that’s the highest priority in city government, they’ve lost sight of what priorities are about.”

If aldermen don’t have a change of heart, Chicago restaurants and grocers that continue to sell foie gras apparently have no reason to fear hefty fines or possible loss of city licenses. Daley said he’s not about to direct city health inspectors to rush out and enforce the ban that takes effect today.

“We have other real issues confronting the people of Chicago,” he said.

The mayor also cast doubt on how vigorously city attorneys would defend the ordinance against a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Illinois Restaurant Association and a group known as “Chicago Chefs for Choice.”

“When you pass laws that are silly, it costs taxpayers money. [Aldermen are saying], ‘I don’t care if it’s unconstitutional. Let’s pass it.’ If that’s the way government keeps working, then it costs taxpayers more and more money,” he said.

“Restaurants are a great industry….All the sudden, you can question anything you serve in a restaurant — the poor snails and the mussels and the shrimp, the lobsters. You can go on and on.” . . . .

Ariel Rubinstein Reviews Freakonomics

Why are people unhappy with the economy?

GNP grew at 4% during the first half of the year. Unemployment at 4.8%. Inflation low. And yet Bush's rating on the economy is so low. Here are the results of a new Gallup poll:

The economy 39 Approve 57 Disapprove

KS: "Gun permits prove popular"

Podhoretz says warnings of coming electoral disaster for Republicans overblown

People are upset with Republicans not doing enough on issues such as illegal immigration, but do these people really believe that Democrats will be closer to what they want done. Hardly. The problem is that the Democrats in the Senate have been united in stopping legislation getting passed.

. . . The chief evidence Washington wise men are using to adduce an upcoming earthquake derives from some very unfavorable polling. President Bush's approval rating is only 37 percent, according to the Real Clear Politics average of all major polls. That's about the same number recorded for the GOP in the "generic ballot" question - where pollsters ask whether people intend to vote for a Republican or a Democrat, without offering a candidate's name.

Plus, the "right track-wrong track" numbers - based on whether people say the country is on the right or wrong track - are running nearly 70 percent against the current direction.

But there are real questions about the validity of this kind of polling, not only as window on coming events, but also as a political indicator altogether. First, there's the question of who is being polled. Midterm elections feature very low turnout - nationally, somewhere around 30 percent. Those are very committed voters, what pollsters call "likely voters."

It's very expensive and very difficult to try and poll only "likely voters" during a non-presidential election, and most polling firms don't even bother. Most polls this year don't even screen for people who describe themselves as "registered voters."

So these polls may reflect real public anger, but they're highly questionable as a gauge for what voters will do.

Also, polling firms seem unable to correct a persistent bias in favor of Democrats. "There has been a long-term tendency for Democrats to do better on this generic ballot question than they in fact do at the polls, so considerable care is required in thinking about this number," notes Charles Franklin of the University of Wisconsin. "If a Democratic lead in the generic ballot were sufficient for control of the House, the Democrats would have won the House in five of the last six congressional elections, including 1994."

Franklin says unhesitatingly that the atmosphere is now very favorable to Democrats - and even that, if today's situation were analogous to elections before 1992, Republicans would surely lose control of the House. The size of the Democratic advantage in the generic ballot, even accounting for the bias, would once have been enough to flip lots of seats nationally - since it indicates that Democrats should get something like 6 percent more votes nationally in November than Republicans.

"From 1946-1992, a one-percentage point gain in the Democratic share of the national vote produced a gain of 8.2 [House] seats (and vice versa for Republicans)," Franklin writes. But: "Since 1994, a one-point gain in votes has produced a gain of only 1.9 seats."

There are indications as well that, as the elections approach, Republican politicians in contested Senate races are beginning to close the gap against their Democratic rivals and are receiving high personal approval scores. . . . .

Michigan with more than 120,000 permits


Democrats attacks on Lieberman are getting funnier and funnier

Are these Democrats serious? Possibly after John Kerry's sharp attack on Lieberman yesterday, this was to be expected.

Critics of Sen. Joe Lieberman's independent run to keep his job attacked on two fronts Monday, with one group asking an elections official to throw him out of the Democratic Party and a former rival calling on state officials to keep his name off the November ballot.

Staffers for Lieberman, who lost the Aug. 8 Democratic primary to Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont, called both efforts dirty politics. The senator filed as an independent candidate a day after the loss, running under the new Connecticut for Lieberman party.

A group whose members described themselves as peace activists asked Sharon Ferrucci, New Haven's Democratic registrar of voters, to remove Lieberman from the party, arguing that he cannot be a Democrat while running under another party's banner.

The request could lead to a hearing in which Lieberman, the Democrats' vice presidential nominee in 2000, would have to argue that he still adheres to the party's principles.

"The law is pretty clear he is no longer a member of the Democratic Party in good standing," said group leader Henry Lowendorf. "There was an open vote and he was voted out. He joined a different party."

Ferrucci said she would research the request, the first of its kind in her two decades on the job. . . . .

New Research on Vote Fraud and Voter Participation Rates

This is some new research that I have recently completed.

The results provide some evidence of vote fraud in U.S. general elections. Regulations that prevent fraud are shown to actually increase the voter participation rate. It is hard to see any evidence that voting regulations differentially harm either minorities, the elderly, or the poor. While this study examines a broad range of voting regulations, it is still too early to evaluate any possible impact of mandatory photo IDs on U.S. elections. What can be said is that the non-photo ID regulations that are already in place have not had the negative impacts that opponents predicted. The evidence provided here also found that campaign finance regulations generally reduced voter turnout.

A copy of the research can be downloaded by following the above link.


UN Double Standard on Israel

"U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Saturday that an early-morning Israeli raid against Hezbollah in eastern Lebanon violated the 6-day-old cease-fire brokered by the United Nations." Didn't Hezbollah just attack Israeli positions in Lebanon multiple times soon after the cease-fire started? Where was Annan saying that was


Democrats threatening New Hampshire's Primary Placement

It isn't obvious to me that this threat by the Democratic party will have much of an effect. So you lose the delegates from New Hampshire? How is important is that compared to the benefit that you get from all the publlicity of winning the early primary? Especially if several candidates start campaigning in NH, I don't see how they can stop the others from doing so.

The Democratic Party is moving to enforce its rules in the battle between states over who goes first in the presidential primaries, taking aim at candidates in case the states themselves won't go along with the party's rejuggled 2008 schedule.

New Hampshire, with its traditional first-in-the-nation primary, says it's not going to worry about "a handful of Washington insiders."

A change recommended Friday by the party's rules and bylaws committee would deny national convention delegates to any presidential candidate who campaigns in a state that leapfrogs its primary over others. . . . .

"If you campaign in a state that is outside the rules, then you're not entitled to delegates from that state," said Carol Khare Fowler, a rules committee member from South Carolina who offered the change. . . .

Hacking into people's websites


"Restaurant Robbery Foiled By Gun-Packing Customer"

The Indy Channel has some interesting details (August 18, 2006):

-- An armed customer foiled a robbery at a fast-food restaurant on Indianapolis west side on Thursday afternoon, according to Indianapolis police.
Police said William McMiller Jr., 40, ordered a bucket of chicken before demanding money from a cashier and threatening to shoot at the KFC in the 2800 block of West 16th Street.
Police said the clerk didn't understand what McMiller wanted and thought he was asking for a refund.
Investigators said McMiller repeated his demand two more times before the clerk reached for money.
Investigators said that when McMiller began to climb over the counter, Paul Sherlock, a customer in the restaurant at the time, approached from behind and pulled out a Taurus 9mm handgun.
Sherlock held McMiller until police arrived. McMiller was held in the Marion County Jail on Friday. He faces a robbery charge.
Police later determined that McMiller did not have a gun, but did have a long screwdriver. Investigators said Sherlock has a valid gun permit.
Watch 6News beginning First At 5:00 for updates.

Some Democrats threatening Lieberman with loss of senority

Angry Democrats
A group of Senate Democrats is growing increasingly angry about Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman's campaign tactics since he lost the Democratic primary last week, the Hill newspaper reports.
If he continues to alienate his colleagues, Mr. Lieberman could be stripped of his seniority within the Democratic caucus should he defeat Democrat Ned Lamont in the general election in November, some senior Democratic aides told reporter Alexander Bolton.
In recent days, Mr. Lieberman has rankled Democrats in the upper chamber by suggesting that those who support bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq by a certain date are bolstering terrorists. He also sparked resentment by saying last week on NBC's "Today" show that the Democratic Party was out of the political mainstream.
Democrats are worried that Mr. Lieberman may be giving Republicans a golden opportunity to undermine their message, the reporter said.
"I think there's a lot of concern," said a senior Democratic aide who has discussed the subject with colleagues. "I think the first step is if the Lieberman thing turns into a sideshow and hurts our message and ability to take back the Senate, and the White House and the [National Republican Senatorial Committee] manipulate him, there are going to be a lot of unhappy people in our caucus."

Update of Gun Law Changes in Texas and Arizona

Alan Korwin has updated his gun law books for TExas and Arizona. Here is his discussion of the updated volumes:

Complete lists of changes for Texas and Arizona are now posted. Texas saw 83 changes since the last (fifth) edition of The Texas Gun Owner's Guide -- a whopping 13% increase in the amount of gun law. Most of it is good news. The BRAND NEW Sixth Edition has all the changes, is due out this week, and the first people to order will receive autographed copies. See the changes here:

Arizona saw changes to 17 key statutes, most of which were excellent. The state now recognizes virtually all legally issued firearm permits, a strong Castle Doctrine is in place, and more. Most intriguing new law -- it's now illegal to interfere with a hunt by putting yourself in the line of fire. Sheeesh.
See the changes here:


Rasmussen: Republicans seen keeping control of the Senate

"Legal Victory for New Orleans Gun Owners?

(CNSNews.com) - A federal judge on Wednesday rejected an attempt to dismiss a Second Amendment lawsuit against the City of New Orleans.

The National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation sued New Orleans, Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Superintendent Warren Riley last year to stop the confiscation of firearms from private citizens in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Judge Carl Barbier of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on Wednesday denied the city's motion to dismiss the lawsuit -- and ordered the city to submit a response.

"We're encouraged by this latest ruling," said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb. "For almost a year, we've been fighting the city's delay tactics, which included outright lying by city officials that any firearms had been seized.

"Only when we threatened Mayor Nagin and Superintendent Riley with a motion for contempt did the city miraculously discover that they actually did have more than 1,000 firearms that had been taken from their owners."

The Second Amendment Foundation said the lawsuit is intended to protect the rights of New Orleans gun owners - and also to "make sure that this serves as a warning to public officials across the country to forget about seizing firearms from their law-abiding owners in the event of a natural or man-made disaster." . . . .

Self Defense Gun Use and the Reasonable Person Standard

From the Times Leader in Pennsylvania:

“The (new) law is written very clearly. You must believe your life is in danger.”

Ashley Varner NRA spokeswoman

If Jacob Trucan’s life is threatened, he thinks he could pull the trigger.

“I believe in protecting yourself, especially in cases of rape or something like that,” said the 15-year holder of a concealed-weapon permit. “A woman or a guy should have the right to protect themselves.”

Turcan, an avid hunter and shooter, supports a law recently proposed by a Lycoming County Republican that could change the idea of self-defense. Pennsylvania law currently requires victims to retreat if faced with threat or attack in public, but allows people to use deadly force against intruders in their homes.

The passage of the so-called stand-your-ground bill would allow holders of concealed-weapon permits to shoot someone in public if they are threatened with death, rape, kidnapping or serious injury.

The bill sponsored by state Rep. Steven W. Cappelli, R-Lycoming, mirrors laws passed in 15 other states beginning in October 2005 in Florida and most recently in Michigan. Cappelli’s proposal is different than those in other states. Here the exception is only extended to the state’s concealed weapon permit holders.

Chad Ramsey, field director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, believes the bill will encourage thoughtless shootings. “This will embolden somebody who might not normally take out their gun. Knowing they have the legal protection, they will be more likely to shoot.”

National Rifle Association lobbyists pushed for the legislation in states such as Pennsylvania, where the duty-of-flight laws are on the books. . . . .

The above article is much more accurate than a very recent piece in the New York Times.

I had sent the following letter into the NY Times:

Dear Letters Editor:

Your article on state laws that do not require that people retreat before they are able to defend themselves was extremely misleading and left out one important aspect of these laws (Adam Liptak, "15 States Expand Right to Shoot in Self-Defense," August 7). There was perviously and still is a reasonable person standard. People can only use their gun defensively if they are threatened and they use force that is commensurate with the threat that they face.

The previous law only required that one retreat if you could do so in complete safety (not simply "must retreat if possible"). Given that, it appears that all three of the examples provided in the article are not useful for illustrating a defensive action that was illegal previously that are somehow legal now.


John R. Lott, Jr.
The Dean's Visiting Professor
State University of New York at Binghamton

(Given that they just published another letter by me, I really can't complain that the NY Times did not publish this letter.) The only point that I would have clarified more in the Times Leader piece is the reasonable person standard. It is not simply up to the victim to decide if they are in danger.

Lobbyists in Washington DC hiring more Democrats in anticipation of Dems taking control of Congress

Possibly this is just confirming the obvious. When it comes to the war against the Islamic Fascists, the risks of even more regulation, higher taxes, the issues of illegal immigrants, etc., this doesn't bode well for the future.

Washington lobbying firms, trade associations and corporate offices are moving to hire more well-connected Democrats in response to rising prospects that the opposition party will wrest control of at least one chamber of Congress from Republicans in the November elections.

In what lobbyists are calling a harbinger of possible upheaval on Capitol Hill, many who make a living influencing government have gone from mostly shunning Democrats to aggressively recruiting them as lobbyists over the past six months or so.

"We've seen a noticeable shift," said Beth Solomon, director of the Washington office of Christian & Timbers, an executive search firm that helps to place senior lobbyists and trade association heads.. . . .

JonBenet Ramsey Murder Solved

Finally, this horrible crime has been solved. It is amazing that someone can get away with such a high profile murder for so long. While the Fox News article below mentions how her parents had to live with the false accusations that they had killed their daughter, what is upon on websites such as the New York Times ignores this important part of the story. Could one imagine what it must have been like for her parents to live with the horrible stigma of killing one of their children? Possibly that was related to Patsy's getting cancer and dying this past June, just months before her daughter's killer was caught.

A former schoolteacher has been arrested in Thailand in the slaying of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey — a surprise breakthrough in a lurid, decade-old murder mystery that had cast a cloud of suspicion over her parents. . . . .

UPDATE: It is too early to tell what is going on here. There is too much second hand information that is unreliable. We will just have to wait and see what really happened here.


Grateful to friend with a gun " 'cause my kids were in the house"

(Columbia, South Carolina) August 16, 2006 - A break-in at a Richland County home ended with one of the suspected robbers being shot to death.

The homeowner says a friend came through to help stop the crime, suffering a bullet wound. The homeowner tells WIS, "I'm sorry he had to get shot in the process but I'm really grateful 'cause my kids were in the house and everything."

The man, who we'll call "Mark" showed us where he says two armed robbers hid, waiting for him to come home. Mark says the crooks snuck in through the fence and broke into his Richland County home after his two friends dropped him off.

Mark says they demanded money. He gave them what he had but they wanted more, "After they snatched chain off my neck, they took my car keys. They told me to call the two guys that just left to come back and they were going to rob them also."

"When he called me back and I just told him hurry up and come back over here. He said he kind of detected something. He kind of knew something was wrong."

Within minutes Mark's friends arrived, armed and ready, "When I opened up the back door I saw the gun in his hand so I told him they had guns in the house and I ran out of the house and that's when the shooting started."

A bullet pierced the back door and one hit a car window, leaving glass on the ground. And then one shot struck Mark's friend, but he managed to fire back, killing one of the robbery suspects, 29-year-old Jevis Rogers, a Columbia man who's been in prison many times for several crimes including burglary. Mark's friend won't be charged in Rogers' death. . . .

As he's learned from an experience, that could've been worse if it weren't for the help of a friend. "He means the world to me. I'd do anything for him." . . . .

Life is full of trade-offs


Ohio: "Few conceal-carry permits revoked, records show"

Of the 73,530 licenses issued from April 2004 through the first quarter of this year, sheriffs’ offices reported 391 suspensions and 217 revocations. That means roughly one of every 121 licenses was suspended or revoked.

More than half of the 100 revocations issued statewide this year came from the Cuyahoga County sheriff’s office after accusations that dozens of license-holders were trained by a weapons instructor who didn’t provide the training required by state law.

The instructor has been charged with 46 felony counts of forgery and 23 felony counts of tampering with records.

But the reasons for other suspensions and revocations are largely a mystery. The concealcarry law Ohio legislators enacted keeps private most of the information about license-holders. . . . Cuyahoga County has issued 1,906, suspended 16 and revoked 57.

If one looks at all revocations, the revocation rate is 0.29%. If you substract off the one case where the problems appear to be due to the instructor not keeping the forms properly, the revocation rate is 0.2%. Interestingly, a huge portion of the remaining revocations took place in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland). The revocation rate outside of Cuyahoga County was only 0.13 percent. Were permit holders more troublesome in Cuyahoga County or was there a different standard that the local sheriff tried to use to determine revocations?

A thought on Lieberman's General Election Race

I have been thinking about the Republican strategy of so openly helping out Senator Lieberman. Those who have read my bolg know that I have strongly supported his campaign despite disagreeing with him on many topics. But there is an interesting angle that I haven't heard mentioned by anyone else: the more Republicans openly support Lieberman, the more that I believe that the Moveon.org types will demand that other Democrats oppose Lieberman. This part of the Democratic base already dislikely Lieberman tremendously (something that I can't begin to figure out), but my guess is that to the extent that Republicans say anything nice about Lieberman or to the extent that they raise money to help out his campaign, other Democrats will feel forced to work agains him even more.

Former Congressman Tom DeLay will not be allowed to get back his Concealed Handgun Permit because of bogus money laundering charge

This is one case when an out of control DA in Austin actually endangers someone's life. On top of all the other injustices facing DeLay, this is one case where publicity about who has a permit is unjustified and dangerous. Why publicize that such a well-known person has been disarmed?

If a Thursday court ruling does wind up forcing Tom DeLay to run for Congress again, he’ll have to do so without his gun.

DeLay’s appeal of an October 2005 order by the Texas Department of Public Safety, suspending his concealed handgun permit, has fallen apart.

DPS sought the suspension after DeLay was charged in the fall of 2005 along with associates John Colyandro and Jim Ellis in two separate indictments alleging criminal conspiracy and money laundering.

The retired congressman lost the right to carry a concealed weapon in Texas due to provisions in state Senate Bill 588, passed into law in 1999, which says a state resident can’t carry a concealed handgun if he or she “is charged with … a felony under an information or indictment.”

Based on the charges pending against DeLay in Travis County, DPS said in court records, it suspended his concealed weapon license and notified him of that decision in an Oct. 28, 2005, letter.

An attorney for DeLay requested a hearing on the merits of the DPS order, which Fort Bend County Justice of the Peace Jim Richard held on Jan. 26.

Richard ordered DeLay’s gun license suspended during the hearing, in a default judgment because no one representing DeLay appeared.

But Richard received a Feb. 16 request from DeLay attorney Steve Brittain to appeal the suspension of DeLay’s gun license. So a transcript of the hearing in Richard’s court was forwarded to Fort Bend County Court-at-Law Judge Sandy Bielstein’s court.

Judge Bielstein said Friday that DeLay’s attorney never filed an actual appeal to state opposition to Richard’s order or the DPS decision to suspend the gun license.. . .


This will make profiling somewhat more difficult

Central Indiana Counties with about 8 to 8.5% of Residents with Concealed Handgun Permits

I haven't looked up the exact numbers but if you did these calculations of adults and not all residents, these numbers would imply around 10 or 11 percent of the adult population with concealed handgun permits. With the recent legislation that gotten passed that allow people to get a permit for life, this percent will rise.

Thousands of area residents are carrying around firearms, and Morgan County residents are among the most likely to be armed.

Based on the most recent population statistics available from the U.S. Census Bureau (through 2005) and merged with the entire database of gun permit holders in the state, the Indiana State Police issues one gun permit for approximately every 11.7 residents in Morgan County. . . .

Most south-central Indiana counties are fairly similar, at least demographically speaking, when it comes to permit holders.

Morgan County is the most heavily armed, followed closely by Martin (1 permit holder for every 12 residents), Owen (1:12.5), Greene (1:12.7) and Lawrence (1:12.8).

New stories on permits being issued in Kansas and Utah can be found by following the links. The Utah story indicates that 30% of its permit holders are residents in other states. Utah's permits are honored in 32 other states.


Only 12% of Democrats think that Lamont's win was bad for Democrats?

How can a recent Democratic Vice Presidential nominee end up with only 12 percent of his party thinking that it was bad that he lost his battle for re-election? Pretty amazing.

An overwhelming majority of likely-voting Democrats nationwide said they are glad three-term Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman was walloped by anti-war challenger Ned Lamont in that state’s Democratic primary election Tuesday.

They also said the Lamont victory over one of the few pro-war Democrats in Washington makes them optimistic they can win control of at least one of the two houses of Congress in November.

The Zogby Interactive survey was conducted Aug. 9-10, 2006, and included 1,229 Democratic respondents nationwide. It carries a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.

It found that nearly four out of five Democrats (79%) were happy the former Democratic vice presidential nominee was knocked off by Lamont, a wealthy cable television executive whose campaign focused almost exclusively on his opposition to the war – and Lieberman’s support of it. Just 12% said they were not pleased with the results of the primary, which riveted political junkies across the nation. Another 10% of Democrats said they were not sure what to think.


Self Defense in the Philippines

Philippine lawyer Johnmuel Mendoza vividly recalls the day his gun saved his life.

He was sitting in his pick-up truck in a Manila suburb when a deranged man appeared out of nowhere and started attacking his car with a metal pipe.

"As he was about to smash my windshield I took out my gun and told him to stop," Mendoza recalls.

At the sight of the gun the man came to his senses, dropped the pipe and fled.

Today, Mendoza uses the lessons of that incident as president of PROGUN, perhaps the only organization in Asia fighting for the right of private citizens to own guns.

The fear of being mugged, raped or murdered in a country with an annual murder rate approaching 10,000 and where violent crime is endemic has seen thousands of Filipinos seeking to arm themselves for protection.

PROGUN, which stands for "Peaceful Responsible Owners of Guns," is the organization that tries to assure they can legally get those guns.

Thousands of people descended on a recent gun show in Manila, looking for an edge in the game of survival being played out in the urban jungle that is the Philippine capital. . . . .

Lieberman loses, vows to run as independent, but who is going to donate to his campaign?

Lieberman loses 52 percent to 48 percent. Here is the question at this point now that Lieberman will run as an independent: who is going to be donating to his campaign? Democrats? It doesn't look like it. Republicans? At least not in any large numbers. May be some independents. My guess is that he is going to have a pretty barebones campaign. If so, the fall campaign may be pretty rough for him.


Guns and Children, Letter in today's NY Times

To the Editor:

Jane E. Brody’s column claiming that people should store their guns locked and unloaded is dangerous advice and will lead to more deaths (“Is Your Child a Split Second from Disaster?”). Her discussion focuses on accidental gun deaths in the home, but 85 percent of the fatality number she misleadingly points to involve homicides. Surely a concern, but locking up guns in law-abiding homes is unrelated to stopping drug gangs from murdering one another.

Despite her claim, adult males with criminal records and histories of alcoholism or drugs are the ones firing the guns that accidentally kill most young children.

Gun locks won’t stop adult criminals from firing their own guns, but they will prevent law-abiding citizens from defending themselves.

John R. Lott Jr.
Binghamton, N.Y.

Brody's original column can be found here.

Brody tries to correct one of the errors that I point to, but she made it worse. The correction added on August 2nd states: "The Personal Health column in Science Times yesterday, about gun safety, included an incorrect statistic from a medical journal on firearm deaths. They make up about 10 percent of deaths caused by injury among children aged 5 to 14, not 10 percent of all deaths in that age group."

You can find the CDC numbers on this issue here. In 2003, the total number of accidental deaths for children aged 5 to 14 was 2,618. The number of children who died from guns was 49. This is less than 2 percent.

Conspiracies everywhere: Poll Results Show Strong Support

There is a bright side to some of these crazy poll results. The three 9-11 conspiracy theories at least have fewer adherents than does the Kennedy assassination or the federal government withholding evidence of alien life.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Likely . . . . . . Unlikely

Officials in the federal government were
directly responsible for the assassination
of U.S. president John F. Kennedy . . . . . . . . 40% . . . . . . . . .51%

The federal government is withholding
proof of the existence of intelligent life
from others planets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38% . . . . . . . . 54%

People in the federal government either
assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no
action to stop the attacks because they
wanted to United States to go to war
in the Middle East . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36% . . . . . . . . 59%

The collapse if the twin towers in New
York was aided by explosives secretly
planted in the two buildings . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16% . . . . . . . . 77%

The Pentagon was not struck by an
airliner captured by terrorists but,
instead was hit by a cruise missile fired
by the U.S. military . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12% . . . . . . . .80%


"Bloomberg's stunts cloud his gun efforts"

Keane with the National Shooting Sports Foundation writes:

The settlement between New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and two of the 15 firearms dealers he targeted in a lawsuit is more about publicity than necessity, given existing federal oversight of dealers by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and educational programs already in place.

The agreement calls for two Georgia dealers to receive additional training in preventing illegal, or "straw," purchases. But the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association, has for years partnered with ATF, the appropriate and legally authorized federal regulatory agency, to provide dealers with training designed to prevent straw purchases through the Don't Lie for the Other Guy program.

The campaign was launched in Atlanta this past January with Gov. Sonny Perdue and ATF Director Carl J. Truscott, who referred to Don't Lie as "vital" and "an important tool for ATF."

Firearms dealers in greater Atlanta have already received in-store materials that help deter would-be straw purchasers, and U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias has appeared in TV ads warning the public about the penalties associated with illegal purchases.

Unfortunately, Bloomberg has rejected NSSF attempts to share this industry-government program plus information about an ongoing series of seminars that educate dealers about the extensive laws and regulations governing the lawful sale of firearms. . . .

Concealed Handgun Law in Kansas Leads to New Sales

Don't believe claim that Alaska pipeline problem could raise gas prices by $10 per barrel

400,000-barrel per day reduction in output would have a major impact on oil prices, said Tetsu Emori, chief commodities strategist at Mitsui Bussan Futures in Tokyo.

"Oil prices could increase by as much as $10 per barrel given the current environment," Emori said. "But we can't really say for sure how big an effect this is going to have until we have more exact figures about how much production is going to be reduced." . . .

Well, if people really believed that the market price would already be up by $10 per barrel. Instead,

ight, sweet crude for September delivery was up $1.23 to $75.99 a barrel in mid-afternoon Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

At London's ICE Futures exchange, the Brent crude contract for September jumped $1.09 to $77.26 a barrel . . .

If traders believe that prices will go up by $10 per barrel, it will pay for them to keep on buying the oil until it has gone up to that price.

One case where smoking by others may have really killed a non-smoker


What some states counted as work under the work requirements for welfare

The Washington Post might not be too thrilled about restrictions on wat counts as work, but some of these types of work are amusing.

"Some defined as work bed rest, going to a smoking-cessation program, getting a massage, doing an errand with a friend."

So what do the words to the song "American Pie" mean?

For those who always wondered what the words to the song "American Pie" mean,here is the ultimate website. I had figured out or heard some of these points, but there were others that I didn't know.

Thanks to Craig Newmark for pointing to this on his blog.

Does Oliver Stone's World Trade Towers Movie Cut Out the Moral Message?

Here is part of Brian Carney's take in the WSJ on Stone's movie:

A long article on the film in Newsweek quotes Mr. Stone: "The consequences of 9/11 are enormous to this world, not just to America." This is true; 9/11 changed world history. But he goes on: "This movie is made for the world, and if it's what I hope it to be, it transcends 9/11. It's about anybody, anywhere, who feels the taste of death, whether it was a bombing in Madrid or an earthquake or a tsunami" (emphasis added). Well, now we are in a different place. The world-changing character of 9/11 does not rest on the number of people who "felt the taste of death." Hundreds of thousands more people died in the December 2004 tsunami. It was a tragic event, but not a world-changing one. Unless you are an animist inclined to attribute moral significance to random acts of nature, a tsunami is "value-free." It just happened. But 9/11 didn't just happen. As "United 93" makes explicit, 9/11 happened because determined men with a plan boarded those planes and carried out their plan.

"World Trade Center" tells a different story. It is the story of 9/11 as experienced by the men on the ground as it occurred. As far as it goes, it does ample justice to the rescue and emergency workers who were present on that day. They did not know, could not know, who brought down the towers or why. The question is whether "World Trade Center" goes far enough when it comes to shaping our understanding of what happened.

One fact about the movie that has received considerable mention already is that it screened well with teenagers, many of whom were too young to perceive clearly what was done five years ago next month in New York and Washington. Will they come away from the film thinking of that day as a tragedy or as an atrocity? Mr. Stone would seem to prefer the former. But universalizing the meaning of the movie risks trivializing it. New York was not hit by an earthquake on September 11, 2001. . . . .


Divisions among Muslims

Weird University Professors -- 9-11 was a US Government Conspiracy

I realize that this has gotten some attention, but this interview is sufficiently amusing that I thought that I would put up a link to it.

Fox News has an interesting interview with the University of Wisconsin lecturer who thinks that 9-11 was staged by the US government. When asked about his qualifications for teaching a class on Islam he points to his research on 9-11, but then he also claims that his class is not on the 9-11 attack. he rest of the interview is really weird. I didn't know this but apparently there were no hijackers on the planes that crashed. Who knew? It is interesting to listen to him explain away the witnesses, the video tapes, and the passangers' telephone calls.


How much weight to put on testosterone testing for Floyd Landis?

This is an interesting read.

Art DeVany has a nice discussion on the testosterone testing issues involving Floyd Landis, the Tour de France winner.

UPDATE: Landis failed the backup test, but the points raised by DeVany are even more important to read now. If Art is correct, the statements about Landis can only be viewed as a very cruel mistake.

UPDATE 2: Here is another take from the WSJ:
One evening nearly two decades ago, four Swedish men in their mid-thirties gathered to quaff about 10 alcoholic drinks over six hours. Two weeks ago, American cyclist Floyd Landis says he drank two beers and "at least" four shots of whiskey after the worst day of his professional career.

Besides a taste for the bottle, these five men have something in common: The day after drinking, their urine showed an elevated "T/E ratio" of testosterone to epitestosterone, hormones that occur naturally in the body.

For Mr. Landis, the test result was bad news: It may cost him the Tour de France title, as the elevated ratio is indicative of the use of banned performance-enhancing substances that raise testosterone levels. On the other hand, that Swedish night on the town -- part of a body of research on alcohol's effect on testosterone levels -- might help him clear his name.

Testosterone and epitestosterone generally are in balance in the body, but some athletes inject steroids or other substances to artificially raise their testosterone levels, which can help long-term muscle building. (Though it generally takes more than a single day for any muscle-building effect to appear.) The day after his drunken night, Mr. Landis's T/E ratio was found to be 11-to-1, well above the 4-to-1 limit set by international cycling. But athletes' testosterone levels vary widely; for example, a test1 of saliva in Canadian university students this year found an eight-fold range of the hormone. If Mr. Landis's T/E ratio is normally toward the high end, a night of drinking could have raised it dramatically, putting him above cycling's limit. . . .


Poll: Democrats moving away from Israel

The poll results suggested that the Middle East conflict could have domestic political consequences in the 2006 midterm elections and beyond, due in part to a growing partisan divide over Israel and its relationship with the United States. Republicans generally expressed stronger support for Israel, while Democrats tended to believe the United States should play a more neutral role in the region.

Overall, 50% of the survey's respondents said the United States should continue to align with Israel, compared with 44% who backed a more neutral posture. But the partisan gap was clear: Democrats supported neutrality over alignment, 54% to 39%, while Republicans supported alignment with the Jewish state 64% to 29%. . . .

More on the numbers: While 64% of Republicans view what Israel is doing in the war as justified and 17 erpcent do not, only 29% of Democrats view it as justified and 36% do not.

Obviously, I am in with the 64% of Republicans and the 29% of Democrats on this one. It would be nice if we lived in a world without violence, but given that we do, I am not sure what other alternatives that Israel has. Israel seems to have gone more than the extra mile in giving back land or proposing to give back land and the other side seems only to be happy with their destruction. The recent statements, even this past week, by Iran are very worrisome. A couple of nuclear bombs and there will be nothing left of Israel.

Analyzing the congressional record

Say what?: "National ACLU accuses black Mississippi mayor of racial profiling"

Here is a black mayor who won 88 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary. Accusing him of racism seems beyond words to try explaining.

The national American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday accused the city's black mayor of civil rights violations including racial profiling in his crusade to stem crime in Mississippi's capital city.

The accusations against Mayor Frank Melton and police are based on complaints from people who say they were pulled over on the basis of their race and searched without probable cause, the ACLU's national racial profiling coordinator, King Downing, said at a news conference. . . . .

However, Melton said in an interview Tuesday that he wasn't interested in the ACLU's complaints against him or the police, and denied he had violated anyone's civil rights.

"We have 26 people that have been killed in Jackson this year. We have 300,000 people killed across America each year. The majority of them are African-American and it's time to do something different," Melton said. "I want to know what the ACLU wants to do besides criticize."

Melton took office last July after winning 88% of the vote on a tough-on-crime platform. . . . .

Will Lieberman Lose By More Than 20 Percent?

Lieberman is now down by thirteen points and the trend is strongly going the wrong way. Now comes even this bad news:

Facing a likely defeat, Lieberman has scrapped plans for a massive and costly get-out-the-vote operation on primary day, according to several Democratic sources. Instead, he will shift some of his resources into more television commercials designed to highlight his accomplishments for the state, in hopes of boosting his battered image. . . . .

What does it mean to say that a siting US Senator loses by more than 20 percent in his party's primary? That is really a massive blowout, and would be a really decisive rejection by the party that he has held public office for over the last 35 years. Would he really go on and run as an independent?

UPDATE: Statement from Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ):
"I frankly believe that if there is a significant margin of victory, if Mr. Lamont wins, I find it hard to believe that Joe Lieberman would challenge that, but it's his decision. I am going to support the Democratic candidate," Lautenberg said in an interview with National Public Radio.

Asked what sort of margin he would consider significant, the New Jersey senator answered: "I think if oh, let's say 20 percent of the people, or 10 percent of the people in the Democratic Party, and they're signed up as Democrats, don't want to give him a vote, I think he really has to take a look at what reality is."


Senate Vote on Minimum Wage Increase Tonight or Tomorrow

My new op-ed on the minimum wage increase going through congress is up:

Democrats are lacking in new ideas, so maybe that’s why Republicans are stealing their old ones. With some Republicans' poll numbers looking grim, early last Saturday morning House Republicans rushed through legislation raising the minimum wage. The Senate votes before shutting down for August recess, and will perhaps finish what is supposedly the process of stealing — or at least neutralizing — the centerpiece of the Democrats’ fall election agenda.

Chances for Senate passage are too close to call. Despite Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's support, many senators on both sides are unhappy. Democrats don't want to give up a campaign issue for the fall and complain that the bill also eliminates the inheritance tax for individual estates under $5 million; Republicans, meanwhile, take unseemly glee in getting Democrats to vote against a minimum-wage increase. But with control of Congress on the line, what is lost in the debate is how increasing the minimum wage harms the most vulnerable workers. . . . .

UPDATE: While the bill got a majority of 56-42, it failed to get the 60 votes required for cloture.

Diana Irey for Congress, Running Against John Murtha

Diana Irey is running against Congressman John Murtha. This race actually looks competitive and defeating Murtha would surely make a lot of news.

Additional info:

Rep. John Murtha, responding Wednesday to a defamation lawsuit filed by a Marine accused of killing Iraqi civilians in 2005, mistakenly said Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich had been "charged in the incident at Haditha." In fact, no charges have been filed against anybody.

Murtha quickly issued a new press release Wednesday deleting "charged" and describing Wuterich as leader of "the squad accused of killing two dozen civilians." The lawsuit accused Murtha of spreading "false and malicious lies" about the sergeant in his May 19 statement which said Marines "killed a number of civilians without anybody firing at them."

Although Murtha has carried his western Pennsylvania district by landslide margins and was unopposed in 2004, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry won it with only 51 percent. Diana Irey, a Republican county commissioner, is waging a vigorous campaign, and last week accused Murtha of "regular and willful misstatements of key facts."

UPDATE: Here is an interview that Irey had on Hannity & Colmes

Accounting Government Style

For many decades this has been a serious problem (though some important reforms were adopted when the Republicans took over in 1995), but if the Republicans can finally get this reform through, it will have a major impact.

The set the government doesn't talk about is the audited financial statement produced by the government's accountants following standard accounting rules. It reports a more ominous financial picture: a $760 billion deficit for 2005. If Social Security and Medicare were included — as the board that sets accounting rules is considering — the federal deficit would have been $3.5 trillion.

Congress has written its own accounting rules — which would be illegal for a corporation to use because they ignore important costs such as the growing expense of retirement benefits for civil servants and military personnel. . . . . A growing number of Congress members and accounting experts say it's time for Congress to start using the audited financial statement when it makes budget decisions.

Bad Poll News for Senator Lieberman


The Inability to Use Guns Defensively in New Zealand

"He was threatening them with their lives. He said: 'Give me the guns or I'll kill you.' He kept repeating it... It happened in a matter of seconds. What would you do?" said Carvell snr of his son's actions.

Greg Carvell then did "the only thing he could do", Carvell snr said: he shot Beckham in the stomach at close range with a handgun. Beckham dropped the machete and staggered towards the door before he fell, and Carvell ran to give him first aid. Motley rang emergency services.

Carvell snr, who was not in the shop when the incident happened, said staff now believed they had seen Beckham in the shop before, perhaps "casing out the joint".

The ordeal has left Greg Carvell so worried for his family's safety that he had moved his 9-month-old daughter into his room to keep her close by, said Carvell snr.

Auckland University senior law lecturer Scott Optican said Beckham's alleged comments before the shooting bolstered Carvell's claim of self-defence. He said the words could be used in evidence if the defence was required. "The guy [allegedly] said 'I am going to kill'. If that is true, it makes his legitimate claim of self-defence even stronger. Why should he not take him at his word? As it is, I think he's got a very strong case... it looks like a classic paradigm case of self-defence." . . . .

The Carvell family is also angry at the police's handling of the incident, which they say has left them "feeling more like suspects than victims".

Detective Senior Sergeant Simon Scott said yesterday police had not yet spoken to Beckham, who last night remained under police guard in Auckland Hospital and was reported to be in a stable condition and able to talk.

"We're waiting for advice from the medical experts as to when we can do that," he said. "Over the next few days we should be able to speak to him and get his side of the story."

Scott said inquiries were continuing this weekend into the incident, and a decision on whether any charges would be laid was not expected until this week.

Speculation has centred on how Carvell was able to have access to a loaded handgun in such a short period of time. But Carvell snr said they had nothing to hide.

"The gun was not loaded in the technical sense [before Beckham entered the shop]. I'm not telling you where it was, but it was not on the desk loaded... A firearm can be loaded very quickly."

Carvell snr, a well-known gun lobbyist, also said he thought the rules around about people not having loaded guns to protect themselves were "crap" in any case.

"Why shouldn't everyone be able to arm themselves? The police don't help you any more." . . . .

Note: Please see thankgodforguns for a discussion on this article and it is through his link that I found this article.


"Gun Dealers Reach Settlement With NYC Mayor Bloomberg."

Starting to get concerned about midterm elections

I am starting to get pretty worried about the midterm elections. Here are some polls for Senate races: Missouri, Ohio, Minnesota, Washington, and Pennsylvania. All but one of these polls are for senate seats that the Republicans currently hold (the exception is Washington state).

If these were polls from September, I would really worried, but at this point I am concerned. My biggest concern is that the terrorists know that the war is hurting the Republicans (along with the press) and that the terrorists will do what they can to help get the Democrats elected. By itself, I would hope that would give voters a second thought.

UPDATE: On a modestly bright note for Republicans in Pennsylvania, the Green Party has filled for getting its Senate candidate on the ballot in Pennsylvania. As the Green Party notes in the link, the Democrats will fight strongly against this. The Democrats succeeded in removing the Green Party presidential candidate from the ballot in 2004.