In defense of Right-to-Carry laws

From Investor's Business Daily:
Democrats are noticeably silent as freshman Sen. James Webb packs heat and leaves an aide literally holding the bag. So why should their constituents not have the same right to self-defense? . . .

Webb has a firearm, he says, for protection. Gun-control advocates argue that letting people carry guns encourages their reckless use. They ignore incidents such as last month's Trolley Square mall shooting in Utah, where an off-duty police officer carrying a concealed weapon saved untold numbers of lives by killing a disturbed young man from war-torn Bosnia who had entered the mall and started shooting, killing five. Utah is one of 40 RTC states.

One of the great untold stories is how armed private citizens, exercising their constitutional right to self-defense, have repeatedly saved their lives and others' and have helped reduce violent crime.

Since 1991, according to NRAILA.org, 23 states have adopted RTC laws. In the same period, the number of privately owned firearms has risen by nearly 70 million and violent crime is down 38%. In 2005, RTC states had, on average, a 22% lower violent crime rate, a 30% lower murder rate, a 46% lower robbery rate and a 12% lower aggravated-assault rate. . . .

The problem is not with Sen. Webb feeling the need to protect himself. It is with those who feel that citizens in the District of Columbia, or anywhere else, should not have the right or the ability to defend themselves. That is truly criminal.



This is really hard to believe: "Gore mulling third party run in '08"

My initial reaction is that this is impossible, but it would split the Democrats and possibly lead to massive Republican wins on many levels. On the other hand, including essentially two Democrats in the race could tilt the debates and the campaign even much further to the left. In any case, it is clear that the Democrats would never forgive Gore.

Sources close to Gore said Ralph Nader has sought to recruit the former vice president to run as the candidate for the Green Party. They said Gore has not rejected the offer and was consulting with family and friends to determine the feasibility of such a candidacy.

At this point, Gore stands behind Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama in any race for the Democratic presidential nomination. But the polls report that many Democrats who support Clinton could switch their support to Gore.

Still, Gore, largely estranged from former President Bill Clinton since 2000, is said to have concluded that he stands no chance of beating Hillary for the Democratic presidential nomination. But sources close to Gore said the former vice president believes that he could present himself as a genuine liberal in any general election that would include Clinton. . . .

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Safer swing sets, more injuries


San Francisco Bans Plastic Bags at Grocery Stores: Does anyone remember why we have plastic bags to begin with?

Another Unintended Consequence of "Clean" Cars such as the Prius

Thompson to make decision on running in three weeks

It sure looks like former Senator Fred Thompson is running for President. Fox News has a discussion here.

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Oregon Appeal Court rules that the Front Porch of Your House is a Public Place

At trial, at the close of the city's case, defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal. He argued that, although the shotgun was loaded when he greeted the police on the front porch, the city had failed to prove that the front porch was a "public place" within the meaning of the law. The trial court denied the motion and found defendant guilty of the offense.

On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a judgment of acquittal because, among other things, the city failed to prove that he had possessed the loaded shotgun in a "public place." The city contends that the trial court did not err, because the evidence was sufficient to establish that, when defendant stood on his front porch with the loaded shotgun, he was in a "public place" within the meaning of the city ordinance. . . .



Senator Webb on Carrying a Gun For Personal Protection

NJ Appeals Court says Disabled Person Should Get Gun Permit

A state appeals court got it right on Thursday when it prohibited East Brunswick from denying a gun-purchase permit to a handicapped township resident. As a result of its decision, the appellate court delivered a victory for disabled outdoorsmen in particular and handicapped citizens in general.

The East Brunswick Police Department denied the permit on the false and prejudiced notion that Charles Breitweiser, partially blind and partially paralyzed, was automatically a danger with a gun. Not so.

In Breitweiser's case, he wanted the permit to buy a rifle for hunting. By doing so, he would join the thousands of other physically disabled citizens across the United States — many with disabilities more serious than Breitweiser's — who participate without mishap in the sport of hunting every year, so long as certain precautions are followed. . . .

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Tony Snow's Cancer has returned

This is very sad. Tony is a wonderful person. He has always been extremely nice to every person whom I have seen him with. I can only assume that the cancer will be very difficult to deal with the second time around.



Breaking News: Senator Jim Webb Staffer Arrested for Carrying Webb's Gun, Webb Carries Gun With Him All The Time

Virginia Senator Webb carries the gun on his waist all the time. A senate staffer informs me that police arrested a Webb staffer for gun possession. He was carrying a bag with the loaded gun for the Senator. Quote: "The [Webb's] staffer had the gun by himself...Webb was in car!!"

I have written op-eds on this before regarding the special rules governing Senators and Congressmen. Regular people or even staffers aren't allowed to carry a gun, but politicians are. Reminds me of Mayor Daily in Chicago, who has armed body guards but won't let other in the city legally own handguns.

But possibly this case will get people to think. Here is a Senate aide, a former Marine, who is arrested and jailed. Does anyone really believe that he is a threat to anyone? Does anyone really believe that it makes sense to lock this guy in jail and charge him with a felony and destroy his life?

UPDATE: The senator staffer was arrested by Capitol Hill police while he tried to take the gun through security at a Senate Office Building.

UPDATE 2: I am a little skeptical that this is completely correct, but I wanted to post this while I checked. In any case, the staffer was apparently arrested for carrying a loaded gun in a bag.

Roll Call

May 23, 2005 Monday
Correction Appended

LENGTH: 779 words

HEADLINE: Law Lets Members Keep Firearms in Hill Offices


. . .

Although the D.C. prohibition against firearms was put into place in 1975, under a provision in federal law, Members of Congress and their staffs are in essence given the right to bear arms on Capitol grounds.

According to Capitol Police Board regulations established in 1967, Members and their aides are allowed to transport firearms on the Capitol grounds in the course of carrying out their official duties provided the weapons are "unloaded and securely wrapped." (Directives published in recent years also state that staff must be verified by Capitol Police.)

Although the regulations expressly prohibit weapons on the floor of either chamber, as well as in the adjacent lobbies, cloakrooms and galleries, individual Members are allowed to "maintain firearms within the confines of [their] office." . . .

Similar story in the September 25, 2000 issue of Roll Call.

UPDATE 3: Fox News has a nice discussion of the case here. Fox News also quotes an interview that Webb had with the Richmond Times Dispatch saying that Webb claims he does not carry a gun to work.

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Trying to set the Police Executive Research Forum Straight


Tape of Guiliani saying that 86 to 88 percent of guns sold in the United States should not be sold

Here is a video tape of Rudy Guiliani while he was mayor saying that gun makers "are producing 6 to 7 times more guns than the legal market would demand and therefore they would have to know that they are supplying an illegal market." He initially says that this number is 3 to 4 times more guns than the legal market would demand, but changes it to the higher number. In any case, it is not a big difference. 3 to 4 times means 75 to 80 percent of guns shouldn't be sold. 6 to 7 times means that 85.7 to 87.5 percent of guns shouldn't be sold.

Thanks to Jason Megill for sending me this link.

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Move by left to strengthen gun control laws in Switzerland

First realize that Switzerland has one of the lowest murder rates in Europe. Yet, why is it that there is a move to increase gun control in Switzerland but not a move to eliminate gun control in neighboring countries with higher murder rates? Overall, this article shows how much people are motivated by annecdotal examples and don't take other indirect effects into account. In the article below, a murder with a military weapon, an extremely rare event in Switzerland, is used to motivate a massive change in gun laws, but what about something on the otherside? What about the fact that possibly Switzerland has a low crime rate because people have guns to defend themselves? Probably people see the crimes and don't see the defensive uses and certainly can't anticipate the crimes that might take place in the future if people can't defend themselves.

The Swiss can keep their army guns at home - for the time being.

Pacifists and centre-left parties want voters to have the final say on breaking with a long-standing Swiss tradition of storing personal army rifles and pistols at home.

They said they would launch a people's initiative to ban such weapons in households. The announcement came a day after parliament refused to take action over the issue.

Supporters of the ban are expected to launch a bid to collect the necessary signatures for the vote within the next few months.

The House of Representatives on Thursday threw out a proposal by the Social Democrats and the Greens to tighten the gun law, including having a central arms register.

"Firearms are the biggest security risk in the country," said Green parliamentarian Jo Lang, while the Social Democrat, Boris Banga, argued that current regulations on standard issue firearms were outdated.

His party colleague Chantal Galladé added a personal aspect to the debate. "I was 11 when my father committed suicide with an army gun."

Other speakers pointed out the latest case of murder committed with such weapons – a man shot his girlfriend in southeastern Switzerland earlier this week. . . . .



Sledgehammer attacked stopped by defensive gun use

Intruder with sledgehammer is shot and killed
Cincinnati Enquirer
March 24, 2007

HAMILTON - Jamie Buck was asleep early Friday when a sledgehammer shattered his side door's window and a stranger burst into his rented home, demanding money or jewelry.

That was the last demand he would ever make.

Brandenburg, 31, was shot to death inside Buck's Bishop Avenue home early Friday, seven weeks after Brandenburg's latest release from jail. A preliminary investigation suggests the shooting was justified, authorities say.

Buck, who told police he was hit in the head with the sledgehammer, was treated at Fort Hamilton Hospital. He told police in a 911 call that he had shot the intruder.

Brandenburg suffered a fatal gunshot to the head, three shots in the chest and a fifth shot in the left side, Butler County Coroner Richard Burkhardt said. Brandenburg tested positive for alcohol use; tests showing his blood-alcohol level and any other drugs were being processed, the coroner said.

Buck, 33, who said he didn't know the intruder, appears to have been defending himself, said Butler County Prosecutor Robin Piper.

But Piper said he is waiting for police to finish investigating before he decides what to do. If the investigation upholds Buck's account of self-defense, Piper could file no charges - or he could let a grand jury decide.

Buck, who works as a roofer, called 911 and calmly told police: "This guy broke into my house ... He tried to kill me with a sledgehammer, sir...He is lying dead in my kitchen." . . . .


How to convince a Mall to take down its "no gun" signs


"Gun ban in Nashville"?

Hurricane Katrina has long term effects on gun ownership in Lousiana

Sixty-four-year-old Vivian Westerman rode out Hurricane Katrina in her 19th-century house. So terrible was the experience that she wanted two things before the 2006 season arrived: a backup power source and a gun. "I got a 6,000-watt generator and the cutest little Smith & Wesson, snub-nose .38 you ever saw," she boasted. "I've never been more confident." People across New Orleans are arming themselves _ not only against the possibility of another storm bringing anarchy, but against the violence that has engulfed the metropolitan area in the 19 months since Katrina, making New Orleans the nation's murder capital.

The number of permits issued to carry concealed weapons is running twice as high as it was before Katrina _ this, in a city with only about half its pre-storm population of around 450,000. Attendance at firearms classes and hours logged at shooting ranges also are up, according to the gun industry. . . . .

Thanks very much to Robert Stevens for sending this.

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Some Europeans Seeing the Quran as Controlling Precedent for Muslims Living in Europe?

Bret Stephens has a disturbing post over at Opinion Journal's Political Diary:

A German woman's lawyer files a motion for an immediate divorce with a judge in Frankfurt on the hardship grounds that her husband has beaten her throughout their five-year marriage and now threatens to kill her. Three months pass; the judge rules: Motion denied.

In the opinion of Judge Christa Datz-Winter, the unnamed woman is not entitled to an immediate divorce under German law because the couple come from a "Moroccan cultural environment, in which it is not uncommon for a man to exert a right of corporal punishment over his wife." When the woman's lawyer objects, the judge cites a passage in the Quran stating that "men are in charge of women." The judge adds that the woman, who is German-born, should have known what she had coming "when she married the Moroccan-born" man.

At this point, the woman's lawyer goes public, and the case becomes a sensation in Germany. "Where Are We Living?" runs the headline of Bild, a mass-circulation tabloid. Politicians also take note: "When the Quran is put above the German Constitution, I can only say: 'Goodnight, Germany,'" complains Ronald Pofalla, general secretary of the conservative CDU party.

The judge has since been removed from the case. For the nameless plaintiff, all the publicity will probably secure her divorce, and her freedom. Other Muslim women in similar positions have not been as lucky: Agence-France Press reports that when 23-year-old Samira Bari, of Nimes, France, sought a divorce from husband Mohammed in July 2003, he gouged out her eyes. She is now blind. The case is in court.



Nice summary of evidence of cosmic ray flux on cloud formation

New Op-ed on Guns and the 2008 Campaign

Is Hillary in real trouble?

35 per cent of respondents would vote for the New York senator in a 2008 presidential primary.

Illinois senator Barack Obama is second with 30 per cent, followed by former North Carolina senator John Edwards with 11 per cent. . . .

I looked up on Tradesport and she is still at 47.2 and Obama is at 31. You would think that with these polls, especially given that everyone knows her, she is in trouble since there is no place for her to really go but down. 35 percent seems remarkably low for her. I wonder what these traders know that I don't know.


Well it is a good thing that these animal right's groups oppose hunting


Wondering what the Vietnamese think of Iraq

I saw the preview for this movie ("Journey from the Fall") and it made me wonder what the Vietnamese in the US must think about what is happening in Iraq. Surely, they more than almost anyone else must know what is at stake and how the media colors things.


An amusing note in the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case

In case you haven't been following the case, the issue is freedom of speach in a school and it does raise some difficult issues. On the (personally) amusing side, Ninth Circuit court Judge Andrew Kleinfeld wrote (p. 2473):
"All sorts of missions are undermined by legitimate and protected speech -- a school's anti-gun mission would be undermined by a student passing around copies of John R. Lott's book,'More Guns, Less Crime;' a school's anti-alcohol mission would be undermined by a student e-mailing links to a medical study showing less heart disease among moderate drinkers than teetotalers; and a school’s traffic safety mission would be undermined by a student circulating copies of articles showing that traffic cameras and automatic ticketing systems for cars that run red lights increase accidents.

UPDATE: A law professor friend of mine wrote me that: "cool! guess too late, but you should have filed an amicus brief--wrond decision could set precedent for banning your book (especially in schools w/ gun-free zones)!"



Environmentalists attack Indian Tribe for Building a Skywalk over a small Portion of Grand Canyon

Fox News has a nice discussion of the controversy here. This just seems bizarre to me. The structure looks beautiful, and it is extremely small. It extends out only 70 feet over the edge. You can't even begin to see the skywalk from the canyon floor. The canyon is 300 miles long. This isn't in the national park portion of the canyon that is owned by the Federal government. In any case, the design and color of the skywalk blends in well with its surroundings. By the way, the Indian tribe has a 50 percent unemployment rate and it is extremely poor. It is a case of rich environmentalists versus poor people how are responsibly trying to make a few dollars off the land that they live on.


Why are some Presidential candidates so intensely disliked?

I was wondering if anyone ever ran a regression to explain why certain politicians are disliked so intensely. One variable that I think would explain a lot is simply how long they have been on the national stage. For the Democrats, that variable would be positively correlated with their ratings. For Republicans, McCain is definitely an outlier. Possibly length of time and whether they take positions normally associated with the other political party. In any case, if Hillary wins the Democratic nomination, the election battle will be fought over a very narrow group of voters.

Which of these prospective presidential candidates would you never vote for?

Newt Gingrich 53%

Hillary Rodham Clinton 46%

Al Gore 43%

Mitt Romney 39%

John Edwards 35%

Barack Obama 33%

John McCain 32%

Rudy Giuliani 31%

Source: Zogby International
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,028 likely American voters, conducted from Mar. 7 to Mar. 9, 2007. Margin of error is 3.1 per cent



What is the man-made share of greenhouse emission gases?

Man-made greenhouse gases account for about 3.2 percent of the total (see Table 1). Even if man-made greenhouse gases were cut by 50 percent (sending us back to pre-industrial revolution levels), that would be just 1.6 percent. On top of that, the sun's energy output is more important than greenhouse gases. If greenhouse gases make up 25 percent of the causes, man's share of the effect falls to 0.8 percent and a 50 percent cut in that reduces the impact to just 0.4 percent. Of course, there is also the issue of temperature changes driving changes in carbon dioxide and not the other way around, but the main point is already clear.

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John Fund: Al Gore Running for President

John Fund in OpinionJournal.com's Daily Diary:

. . . More and more Democrats are becoming convinced Mr. Gore is running for president -- by not running for president. "It makes perfect sense -- get credit for being a noble crusader on behalf of the environment, build up volunteer lists and wait to see if Hillary and Obama stalemate the race in the next few months," is how one Democratic consultant put it to me yesterday.

Indeed, Newsweek magazine concludes in its latest issue: "Gore isn't running, but he is." . . .

Mr. Gore's plans for the next few months indeed resemble a nascent campaign. He will mark Earth Day next month with a college tour that ends with a giant rally in Washington. That day he will also address by satellite the 1,000 "climate messengers" he has trained to take copies of his global-warming film to civic groups and add their own commentary. In May, Mr. Gore's new book, "The Assault on Reason," will be published accompanied by a major publicity splash.

If all this goes well, Mr. Gore is positioned to wait for the big event. This fall, many Gore aides are convinced he will win the Nobel Peace Prize for this global warming crusade. "If that happens, you can bet the roof will come off in terms of pressure from the Democratic base for him to run," predicts Rich Galen, a former GOP consultant who now writes Mullings.com. "He can then enter the race and say the people drafted him into it."

Pretty depressing: Al Gore getting the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to make mankind much poorer and lead to untold number of people dying as a result.

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Giuliani on guns

John Fund points to some interesting quotes by Rudy Giuliani here. Here are some of the statements that Giuliani has made on guns:

When Congress, at the request of many police officials, considered a broad ban on handgun bullets capable of piercing bulletproof vests, Mr. Giuliani – though personally supportive of the measure – pointed out flaws in the bill and laid out the [Reagan] Administration’s case for a weaker alternative more acceptable to gun lobbyists.

But he angered some [Reagan] Administrative officials when he added a single sentence to his testimony in which he urged Congress to pass the bill. A similar measure was passed several years later, after gun groups softened their opposition.

New York Times, October 11, 1989
(Emphasis Added)

In fact, the Mayor has been a strong proponent of gun control since his days as a Federal prosecutor, and early in his term, after the Brooklyn Bridge shootings in February of 1994, he proposed that guns be subject to the same licensing requirements as driving a car. He revived the issue last month after the Empire State Building shootings, effectively making a national policy issue out of a local incident.

Assuming that he eventually approves the use of hollow point bullets, as seems likely, he will have some insulation from charges that he is in any way gun-happy. With gun control overwhelmingly popular in the city as a whole, it is an issue that can’t miss, a political “no-brainer.”

“Whatever a New Yorker’s philosophical orientation, liberal, conservative, left or right, they have to share a small space,” said Raymond B. Harding, the Liberal Party leader and the Mayor’s top political adviser. “At that close proximity, guns are evil, and you don’t need a pollster to tell you that.”

The Mayor praised the proposals made Wednesday by President Clinton to keep guns out of the hands of non-citizens by imposing a residency requirement. But he said the idea doesn’t go far enough, and urged that owning a handgun be subject to the same scrutiny as operating a car: applicants should pass a written and a physical test, should be subject to a waiting period and a background check, and should be required to have liability insurance.

He acknowledged that this would require states to set up large bureaucracies – which he jokingly hoped would operate more efficiently than the Department of Motor Vehicles – but said the cost would be more than offset by the reductions in crime.

New York Times, March 7, 1997
(Emphasis Added)

In repeating his call for a national gun licensing law yesterday, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani introduced an unusual kind of “southern strategy” to his re-election platform: Blame five southern states if the city’s crime rate doesn’t continue its steep descent.

As he related it at a breakfast meeting of the Citizens Crime Commission yesterday, his thinking goes like this:

The city’s crime reductions cannot continue much further, he said, especially if guns continue to flow freely into New York from elsewhere in the country, where gun laws are more lax. The five southern states that account for 60 percent of the guns in the city are Florida, Georgia, Virginia, and North and South Carolina, he said, and if Congress would only impose handgun licensing on those states and the rest of the country, New York’s crime rate would plummet even further.

New York Times, March 7, 1997
(Emphasis Added)

Mr. Giuliani has long advocated national gun regulations, including background checks and waiting periods for gun purchases, and a ban on assault weapons. He has not changed, according to Ms. Mindel [a Giuliani spokesperson].

New York Times, November 14, 2005
(Emphasis Added)

Giuliani doesn't seem to realize it, but if he was really serious about making the licensing rules for guns the same as for cars, it would involve a DEREGULATION from what is currently in place. You don't need to license your car as long as you only drive it on your own property. Presumably guns that were only used on your own property would be handled the same way. If you license your car, you can drive it any place in the country. Presumably a gun license would allow you to carry your gun any place in the country so you would only need one permit instead of the current patch work of laws.

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Justice Clarence Thomas on the harm from affirmative action in schooling

I strongly recommend reading the entire interview. Given some recent research that I have been doing on peer effects in universities, this part caught my attention:

There's a lot of discomfort with learning from each other. What I learned by being the only black in my school was that it's hard but it's necessary. The rest of the world isn't going to accommodate you. You can't just go into a cocoon. At some point, you have to deal with it and the world has to deal with you. If others are comfortable with being over here, while you're comfortable with being over there, it makes it less likely that learning will occur. It's certainly comfortable because you don't have to put up with conflicts and the discomfort of being one of the few blacks on campus. But it's not as easy as the theorists think it is. They should try to be the only one in an environment. I had been the only black student in my high school. I knew what that was about.


The Brady Campaign Keeps Saying that It Only Wants "Reasonable" Regulations


Alexander Cockburn Deflates Fears of Another "Crime Wave"

Ominously timed for Campaign 2008 we've got a hike in certain stats for violent crime. So we can look forward to Steve Squarejaw-type commitments to being tough on crime, particularly from Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and -- it's surely safe to assume -- Hillary Clinton. The Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington-based law enforcement think tank whose board consists of seven police chiefs, including William Bratton of the LAPD and John Timoney of Miami, has just put out a report stridently titled "Violent Crime in America: 24 Months of Alarming Trends". This follows the alarums of the Forum's October 2006 bulletin, which featured Bratton predicting "a gathering storm" of violent crimes.

Of the fifty-six police departments voluntarily sending 2006 figures to the Forum-New York City was not among them-forty reported increases in homicide and robbery. The Forum says that between 2004 and 2006 homicide increased 10.2 percent, robbery 12.3 percent, aggravated assault 3.1 percent, aggravated assault with a firearm up 10 percent. . . .

The Forum's fearful trumpetings would diminish sharply if its statistics addressed crime rates rather than merely numbers of crimes. The population of the United States is rising by about 1 percent per year. As the columnist John Lott pointed out, if the police chiefs had measured the violent crime rate, "it would have been hard to argue that violent crime is increasing because while the rate did go up slightly in 2005, it had fallen every single previous year since 1991. How can they claim that violent crime is out of control when it had fallen for thirteen straight years before rising by 1.3 percent for just one year?"

There are wide divergences in the performance of the cities reporting to the forum. Murderers in Charleston worked away diligently and managed to hike their total from 11 victims in 2005 to 23 in 2006, a headline-making rise of 109 percent. By contrast the murderers of Atlanta could only manage 107 in 2006, up from a disappointing 89 in 2005, but down from 112 in 2004. In Chicago aggravated assaults fell two straight years, from 18,820 in 2004 to 17,438 in 2006, a drop of 7.3 percent. . . .

Cockburn is right on point here. As hard as it is for me to still be surprised by the New York Times, I was still amazed that they have tried creating this hysteria over rising crime. The NY Times is what seems to have given this report the main attention that it received. The quote that Cockburn uses from me is for a report that the Police Executive Research Forum had issued this past year, but it is still exactly on point for this re-release of this slightly updated report. The most recent report that was issued earlier this year appears to be even worse in that it is not even clear whether there was a bias in what city crime rates were reported. For those interested in seeing the PERF report please go here.

Just to give you an idea of how bizarre this report is, when you read this note that this is the number of crimes, not the crime rate. It is akin to comparing the number of crimes in a city 20 years ago with today even though the population of the city might have doubled over that time. See page 5:
Alexandria (VA) Homicides doubled from 2004 to 2005
Arlington (TX) 5-year high for aggravated assaults
Boston (MA) 10-year high for homicides
Cincinnati (OH) 20-year high for homicides
Fairfax Co. (VA) 16-year high for homicides
Kansas City (MO) 6-year high for homicides
Nashville (TN) 7-year high for homicides
Orlando (FL) All-time high for homicides
Prince George’s Co. (MD) All-time high for homicides
Richmond (CA) 10-year high for homicides
Springfield (MA) Nearing a 10-year high for homicides
Toronto (Canada) 10-year high for homicides
Trenton (NJ) All-time high for homicides
Virginia Beach (VA) 10-year high for robbery

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New Documentary by Michael Moore

A discussion on the new documentary on Michael Moore can be seeen here.

On Roger & Me -- Unbelievably, the central claim that Moore couldn't get an interview with Roger Smith was false.

Moore apparently did to these Canadian film makers what Moore accused GM of doing when he filmed Roger and Me. If anything what Moore Moore apparently has also avoided people trying to interview him before. For a movie by Larry Elder see here. Presumably this movie is getting a lot more attention than Larry's is because it was done by progressive Canadians, who have a lot more credibility with the media.


Is it in the Democrat Party's interest that the DC Circuit Court's Opinion on Guns be upheld?

Washington Post: Meet Bob Levy, the man behind the case to overturn DC's gun ban

Nice piece on Bob. He certainly deserves the coverage.

Meet the lawyer who conceived the lawsuit that gutted the District's tough gun-control statute this month. Meet the lawyer who recruited a group of strangers to sue the city and bankrolled their successful litigation out of his own pocket.

Meet Robert A. Levy, staunch defender of the Second Amendment, a wealthy former entrepreneur who said he has never owned a firearm and probably never will.

"I don't actually want a gun," Levy said by phone last week from his residence, a $1.7 million condominium in a Gulf Coast high-rise. "I mean, maybe I'd want a gun if I was living on Capitol Hill. Or in Anacostia somewhere. But I live in Naples, Florida, in a gated community. I don't feel real threatened down here." . . . .

Thanks to Dan Gifford for sending this to me.



What do high infant mortality rates really tell you?

The US and the UK have high infant mortality rates. As the Economist.com points out:

THE new UNICEF report on children in industrial countries is out. Readers will be shocked, shocked! to find out that the United States and the UK are indisputably the worst places to have been a child.

The problem with all of these reports, of course, is what computer programmers call GIGO—Garbage In, Garbage Out. They are extraordinarily sensitive to the chosen metrics. So if you think that the most important thing is for children to be as close to each other as possible in income distribution, you will decide that Danish children are living in paradise. On the other hand, if you peg material items like dishwashers, computers, and so forth as major contributors to child welfare, then the United States might be more to your taste; as the Heritage Foundation points out, the Census Bureau finds that . . .

Yet neither income inequality, nor the abundance of colour televisions, tells me what I want to know which is how happy and healthy are children in these various countries?

Even things like health statistics are fraught. African-Americans have, for reasons no one quite understands, higher levels of premature birth, infant mortality, and low-birth-weight babies, and birth complications. This is true even when obvious factors like income, prenatal care, and maternal health and age are controlled for, and substantially lowers America's performance in the statistics.

Similarly, the UN has somewhat inexplicably decided to use "deaths from accidents and injuries, 0-19", as a proxy for health among that age group, rather than the more obvious "deaths, 0-19". This statistic makes America look awful, almost entirely due to the fact that American children spend a lot of time in cars. Yet the differences run from 10 per 100,000 to 20 per 100,000, meaning that 99.98% of American children lead lives blissfully untouched by accidental death. . . . .

There is also the possibility of what is known as the Peltzman effect. Making something safer can actually encourage more dangerous behavior. Suppose that you make riding a motorcylce completely safe. What would happen to how fast that you drive? I bet that people would drive a lot faster. In general, safety features may increase or decrease the number of deaths. Airbags might reduce the number of deaths per accident, but they might also increase the number of accidents because people feel that they can drive more recklessly. You might also be more likely to accidentally kill a few pedestrians. There is always the risk that improved health care might generate a similar response. Some groups of people might respond to these changing costs more than others.

Of course, some people might engage in risky behavior generally because of the social safety net. People might be more willing to risk getting hooked on drugs because there are so many potential protections for them. But getting hooked on drugs might also mean more premature births and thus greater child mortality.


John Fund Talks to Fred Thompson About His Potential Run For President

As usual, John Fund provides a very interesting discussion:

[Thompson] is shaking up the race. Every GOP candidate is nervously watching the reaction to his possible entry. J.C. Watts, an Oklahoma congressman from 1995 to 2003, has endorsed him: "I define Fred Thompson as AC, what's AC? All class."

Fan blogs for "Law and Order" note that since the show is especially popular among women, a Thompson race could help close the GOP's "gender gap." The most pithy comment is from Craig Hammond, a former mayor of Bluefield, W.Va. He told the Bluefield News: "He's the tall timber we've been waiting for. He's the total package. He can hold the red states and pick up a few blue ones along the way." . . .

So many voters remain unsold on any of the current GOP contenders that Mr. Thompson just might trade his TV sound stage for a campaign microphone. As this is the first truly open Republican nomination fight in decades, the party might as well revel in the competition it claims to cherish in other parts of life.

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Gas price conspiracy?

I suppose that I should have expected it. I was at a gas station today, and the price was about $2.60 per gallon. Two of the other customers were extremely upset arguing that the pump price was going up at the same time that the crude oil price was going down. They were claiming that the price had nothing to do with the cost of gas to the gas company. Well, I tried to argue with them, but it was obviously futile. Just on the microscopic probability that these two gentlemen actually read my blog, the figure from gasbuddy.com shows that the price at the pump is closely related to the price of crude oil. The most obvious difference is that the price at the pump doesn't vary as much day to day as the price of crude because gas companies bear inventory costs to smooth out these price swings for their customers.



Huckabee has concealed handgum permit

Huckabee may be the only presidential candidate from either party with his own concealed handgun permit:

As someone with his own permit to carry a concealed weapon, Huckabee said he's in favor of people owning firearms to protect their families. . . .

UPDATE: I don't know what I was thinking, but a commentor corectly notes that New Mexican Governor Bill Richardson also has a concealed handgun permit. Thanks for the correction.

(Corrected typo)


Message to Bloomberg: Police volunters without guns in NYC? What are you thinking?

Given that Bloomberg is against even police carrying guns off-duty, I suppose that this isn't too surprising. Yet, if this is the policy that you are going to adopt, possibly you should also have strategy of teaching these volunteers to run away from any attacks when they occur.

NEW YORK — A gunman rampaged through a strip of restaurants and bars in a trendy Manhattan neighborhood, killing two unarmed volunteer police officers and a pizzeria employee, the mayor said.

Regular police officers then shot and killed gunman David Gavin, who had bag with a fake beard, two guns and 100 rounds of ammunition, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said early Thursday.

"Tonight was a horrible night for the New York Police Department and for our city," he said. "Two men who volunteered their time to make our city the safest big city in America lost their lives helping to keep it exactly that way."

A neighborhood resident, Tina Lourenko, said she saw the gunman and recognized him as a former employee of the pizzeria. . . .

Thanks to Robert Stevens for getting me to think about this piece a second time.

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So has Bush Transformed the Supreme Court?

Stuart Taylor has a very interesting discussion regarding two people who you would think can answer this question. Jan Crawford Greenburg things that Bush as transformed the court, but Benjamin Wittes is more doubtful. I think that Wittes is right. Conservatives need at least one more retirement of one of the liberals to make a real difference.

A year after conservative Justice Samuel Alito succeeded liberal-leaning Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a disagreement between two of the nation's best legal journalists about how much President Bush has transformed the Supreme Court prompts this challenge to Court-watchers:

What will the legal landscape look like in 10 years? Make your predictions and place your bets. . . .

In a widely acclaimed book full of revelations about behind-the-scenes battles over the Court, Jan Crawford Greenburg, now of ABC News, says that after decades of disappointment, conservatives have finally won the day. The appointments of Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts will produce a "profound and lasting alteration," Greenburg writes in Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court. They and their allies will now engineer "one of the most fateful shifts in the country's judicial landscape in a generation... with repercussions as yet unimagined," she predicts.

"I'm not holding my breath," retorts Benjamin Wittes in The New Republic Online. Wittes, an author and a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution who until recently wrote the nation's smartest legal editorials for The Washington Post, highly recommends Greenburg's book (as do I) for its "genuinely spectacular" reporting. But he dissents from her view that Bush has set the stage for an era of conservative hegemony. . . .

First, the gist of the Greenburg-Wittes debate: She foresees that the 56-year-old Alito will tip to the conservative side those big 5-4 decisions that O'Connor had tipped to the liberal side. In addition, she says, the 52-year-old Roberts is more persuasive, more energetic, and no less conservative than his predecessor as chief justice. Third, both new justices have such strong conservative principles and legal minds that they are unlikely to drift leftward as have other Republican appointees, including John Paul Stevens, O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter. But Roberts and Alito are also more collegial and less confrontational than conservative Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, and thus less likely to alienate their more moderate (and liberal) colleagues.

Wittes responds that an improbable number of stars must align to bring about a dramatic transformation. The Court still has only four conservatives, he points out. Kennedy, now the key swing justice, has voted with the liberals on four of the five hottest issues, as detailed below, and is only shakily allied with the conservatives on the fifth. Roberts and Alito, unlike Scalia and Thomas, have not so far acted like conservative warriors itching to mow down forests of liberal precedents. To the contrary, the chief justice says his goal is to promote greater consensus by deciding cases on narrow, relatively uncontroversial grounds.

Then there are the wild cards. While liberal Justices Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are 86 and 73 years old, respectively, Scalia and Kennedy are both 70. Who will outlast whom? And who will fill any vacancies?

A nice debate. But it's time for hard predictions. Here are mine, on the five (currently) hottest issues. . . .

Summarizing Taylor's predictions in the rest of the piece:

Abortion: not much of an effect
Race: could go either way
Religion: "Alito and Roberts will probably strike down fewer holiday nativity scenes, Ten Commandments displays . . ." Otherwise not much change.



Concealed Handgun Permit Holder Stops Robbers

Nice example of when a permit holder from another state stops a crime because he was able to legally carry due to reciprocity.

Bridgeton, Missouri 3/13/2007

Florida conceal-carry permit holder staying at the Motel 6 in Bridgeton foils an armed robbery attempt on the part of convicted felon Ricardo Crossland (above), and one other man who is still at large.

The Florida man, only identified as a 23-year old (good job, KSDK, for keeping a CCW permit holder’s name secret; you ought to teach the Roanoke Times a thing or three), willingly surrendered his legally owned and carried pistol to Bridgeton police, presumably for evidence and to help apprehend the other suspect, thereby proving the left’s hysterical contention that CCW permit holders or advocates are a bunch of wild crazy gun nuts.

Missouri’s CCW provisions allow permit holders from any other state to carry in Missouri. The reverse is not always true.

As for Mr. Crossland, he now faces state charges of robbery and armed criminal action, and perhaps Miss Hanaway can look into a Federal rap of felon-in-possession. The decline and fall of Bridgeton continues.

For the original news story go here.

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More on "The Great Global Warming Swindle"

Reaction to "The Great Global Warming Swindle" from a weather forecaster:

"Last week I mentioned the British documentary on global warming, "The Great Global Warming Swindle." If you go to Google and type in that title and then click video in the tabs, it will offer a link to the one-hour, 15-minute film.

Unlike Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth," where he mainly lectures with a PowerPoint presentation and shows graphs and data, this film is based almost entirely on interviews of well-recognized experts. Climatologists, oceanographers, meteorologists and other scientists present their views on just what is going on with the planet. The film also explains how the political aspect of global warming began in 1984. It also gives a hint to the incompleteness of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on global warming. . . .

I am currently working on a short thesis of sorts with my thoughts on global warming and will post that soon on my blog at www.weathersystems.com. I have said for years that global climate change goes in cycles due to natural causes. I still believe that from every scientific fact that I have come across.

In the new documentary the scientists give good explanations about the CO" issue and imply that the sun is the main culprit in our climate change cycles. They also show that man causes a very minute amount of CO" gases compared to oceans, volcanoes, forests, plants and animals. Referring to Gore's film, they state that he was correct with the deposits of CO" in ice core samples, but what he didn't say is that the high amounts of CO" occurred decades after a warming period, not before. And the melting Greenland glaciers used as an example in his film in have stopped flowing into the sea and are actually building up ice once again in 2006.

Where was the media before Gore got his Academy Award:

The New York Times [NYT] fires a shot today at Al Gore and his Academy Award-winning global warming film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” saying it involves “hype” and shoddy science.

“Hollywood has a thing for Al Gore and his three-alarm film . . . So do many environmentalists, who praise him as a visionary, and many scientists, who laud him for raising public awareness,” the Times reports. “But part of his scientific audience is uneasy . . . these scientists argue that some of Mr. Gore’s central points are exaggerated and erroneous.”

The Times quotes geologist Don J. Easterbrook, addressing the Geological Society of America: “I don’t want to pick on Al Gore. But there are a lot of inaccuracies . . . we have to temper that with real data.”

James E. Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, a Gore adviser, told the Times, “Al does an exceptionally good job of seeing the forest for the trees,” but his work has “imperfections.” He singled out Gore’s dire prediction of more, deadlier hurricanes as exaggerated.

The Times cites a recent U.N. report’s prediction of a maximum 23-inch ocean rise this century, while Gore claims the ocean will rise 20 feet over an unspecified time, flooding entire cities. . . . .

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Draft Thompson Website


Clip of Fred Thompson on Fox News Sunday

You can see Fred Thompson on Fox News Sunday here. He comes across very powerfully in the interview. My guess is that he will remind many of Reagan.

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Film on Global Warming "Swindle"

BBC film on "The Great Global Warming Swindle." This is an excellent film, though I will say that I found the discussion about who paid what to whom to buy their support not very useful. I would have definitely cut it out.

Something amusing can be seen here:
MINNEAPOLIS - A North Pole expedition meant to bring attention to global warming was called off after one of the explorers got frostbite.

The explorers, Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen, on Saturday called off what was intended to be a 530-mile trek across the Arctic Ocean after Arnesen suffered frostbite in three of her toes, and extreme cold temperatures drained the batteries in some of their electronic equipment. . . . .

More evidence that the sun is the cause of temperature changes:
Sun Blamed for Warming of Earth and Other Worlds . . . .

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Happy Washingtonians Celebrating D.C. Circuit Court Decision on Guns

The picture is of Franklin Raff, who sent it to me.


Notes on the D.C. Circuit Court's Decision on Banning Guns

Here is the write up that I have at today's National Review Online:

John R. Lott Jr.
For several decades, D.C.’s gun ban has served an important educational purpose. With the nation’s strictest gun-control laws, gun-control advocates have been embarrassed that the city has frequently had the highest murder rate of any large city in the U.S. This was hardly the case prior to the ban. Yet, the D.C. Circuit Court striking down the ban will prove just as embarrassing because the long predicted surge in violent crime will not occur.

Surely the ban cannot be blamed for all the District’s crime problems. The police department has had severe problems over hiring standards as well as management and morale issues.

But the long-term changes in crime rates before and after the ban are difficult to ignore. In the five years before Washington’s ban in 1976, the murder rate fell from 37 to 27 per 100,000. In the five years after it went into effect, the murder rate rose back up to 35. During this same time, robberies fell from 1,514 to 1,003 per 100,000 and then rose by over 63 percent, up to 1,635. The five-year trends are not some aberration. In fact, while murder rates have varied over time, during the 30 years since the ban, the murder rate has only once fallen below what it was in 1976.

D.C.’s experience strongly suggests that gun bans disarm only law-abiding citizens while leaving criminals free to prey on the populace.


Roanoke Times publishing list of Virginia permit holders

About 2 percent of Virginians, 135,789 of us, have concealed handgun permits. . . .

As a Sunshine Week gift, The Roanoke Times has placed the entire database, mistakes and all, online at www.roanoke.com/gunpermits. You can search to find out if neighbors, carpool partners, elected officials or anyone else has permission to carry a gun. . . . .

One of the benefits of concealed handguns is that criminals don't know who is going to be able to defend themselves, so even those who have no plans of carrying a concealed handgun benefit from the fact that others do so. Now if a criminal wants to attack someone all a criminal has to do is look up the name of a potential victim and see if they are able to defend themselves. I have one question for Christian Trejbal (the writer of the piece): Does he put a sign up in front of his home reading "This is a gun free home"? Probably not, and for good reason.

Thanks to William Taggart for alerting me to this newspaper article.

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Global Warming Fears May Result in Imposing Autobahn Speed Limits

Fred Thompson for President

My guess is that if former Senator Thompson decides to run for President, he has a better than even chance of winning. I think that he would have all the benefits of Giuliani without almost any of the costs. My one concern regarding Thompson is his support for campaign finance reform, but beyond that I think that he would be a great candidate. Newt would also be great, but I worry that he would find a general election race much more difficult. If Thompson entered the race, I don't think that Newt would run.

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Review of Clayton Cramer’s terrific new book, "Armed America"

Here is a new book review that I have in Sunday's New York Post.

Did you know that in New York City, through 1969 virtually all the public high schools had riflery teams?

Thousands of students carried their rifles on subways, buses and streets on their way to school, when they went to practice in the afternoon and on their way home. And until 1963, all commercial pilots were required to carry guns and were allowed to carry guns until 1987.

Gun laws have certainly changed over time.

Today towns such as Kennesaw, Ga., Greenfeld, Idaho and Geuda Springs, Kan., which all require residents to own guns, are considered the oddity. But Clayton Cramer’s terrific new book, "Armed America," shows that, in fact, gun ownership has been deeply woven into this country’s since the colonial period. . . .

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Vote Fraud in New Jersey


Two Concealed Handgun Permit Holders Stop Public Shooting

Memphis, Tennessee 3/8/07

Police in Memphis say a gunman firing a pistol beside a busy city street was subdued by two passers-by who were also armed.

No one was hurt during the incident that apparently began with a minor traffic accident, but one passing car was believed hit by a bullet.

Brothers William Webber and Paul Webber told police they stopped their car and pulled their own pistols when they saw a man firing a handgun yesterday.

The brothers said they ordered the man to drop his weapon and then held him at gunpoint until police arrived a few minutes later. Police say the Webbers did not fire their pistols.

Police arrested Dementrius Roberson and charged him with reckless endangerment. Police say the Webber brothers and Roberson have licenses to carry firearms.

Paul Webber says Roberson was firing across traffic and they couldn't tell why he was shooting. . . . .

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Proposed Credit Card Regulations

Listening to the news this morning I heard a report about how horrible it is that credit card companies are allowed to change the terms of their agreements with customers without notice. Apparently, there is a move to pass a law requiring that credit card companies give notice (60 days) for customers before any change can occur. I was quite upset with the Foxnews interviewer. I wished she had asked two questions: 1) Won't that mean higher interest rates? 2) Couldn't the credit card companies offer that now? Doesn't it mean that since they aren't doing that that the customers do not value the benefits from this as much as the costs?

Here is apparently some news coverage of the hearings that took place this past week:

They only discover later that, buried somewhere in a dense, multi-page contract in small print, the lender reserves the right to change the terms - including the interest rate - at any time.
Getting yanked around like this understandably makes customers furious. And they're letting Congress hear about it.



Defensive gun use caught on Cell Phone Video

March 8, 2007
PHILADELPHIA -- The owner of a small breakfast restaurant who has been robbed in the past killed one alleged robber and injured another during a robbery gone bad in Philadelphia Thursday morning, police said. After several rounds were fired, a witness captured the aftermath on his daughter's cell phone video recorded.

Authorities said two people tried to hold up Sunrise Breakfast, a small corner joint on the 1900 block of East Washington Lane around 6 a.m., but the owner shot them before they got away.

Police and witnesses said one of the thieves fired at the owner first.

The store owner, 45-year-old Jason Lee -- who had a permit for his gun -- killed Cornell Toombs, 20, and shot Gary Williams, 24, in the face. Williams was listed in critical but stable condition on Friday.

Lee said he did what he had to do when the gunmen entered his store.

"I'm just lucky," he said. "I'm not a hero. It's my security. I had to do what I had to do."

Lee was behind the counter as workers cleaned up the plate-glass window that had been shattered by bullets. Lee, his wife and a female employee had opened the restaurant early Thursday morning before the two gunmen walked in, held a gun to the female cashier and demanded money.

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Unions spending $10 Million to $20 Million to Attack Wal-Mart

The union-backed campaigns aimed at criticizing Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s wages and health benefits are having a "meaningful" impact on the giant retailer's operations, according to a Bank of America Securities analyst.

Wal-Mart on Friday disputed that finding. "Union leaders are wasting millions of their members' hard-earned dollars every year attacking Wal-Mart," spokesman David Tovar said. "Published reports and our own internal tracking consistently show that the critics' efforts are having minimal impact on the company's reputation."

Bank of America analyst David Strasser wrote in a note distributed Thursday to his firm's clients that the union groups have $20 million in financial backing from their national organizations and contributions from their local divisions. He estimates that Wal-Mart, in turn, employs 100 people tasked, at least in part, with countering the union group's criticisms, amounting to a $10 million expense in salary and benefits. A Wal-Mart spokeswoman called that estimate off-base and "simply absurd."

The Wal-Mart workers apparently don't want to be unionized. They won't vote to elect union representation. The union strategy seems to be to force the company into initiating unionization.

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DC Gun Ban Struck Down

The Federal Appeals Court today struck down the ban. A copy of the decision can be found here. Remember you read it here first.

The first paragraph in the decision says it all: "Appellants contest the district court's dismissal of their complaint alleging that the District of Columbia's gun control laws violate their Second Amendment rights. The court held that the Second Amendment . . . does not bestow any rights on individuals except, perhaps, when an individual serves in an organized militia such as today's National Guard. We reverse." Also interesting (p. 57): the court clearly recognizes that restrictions are unconstitutional when they prevent guns from being used in self-defense. The Appeals court granted summary judgement for the plaintiffs.

In the dissent, I wonder if the Judge understands that her decision (p. 3) implies that people should be able to own machine guns. They are surely weapons used in militias.

I have no doubt that this is going to the US Supreme Court. There is significant disagreement across the circuit courts that I think there is no doubt that the Supreme Court will grant cert. This is actually a very high risk gamble. IF the gun ban is struck down, it will have major implications. If not, no gun regulation will be deemed "unreasonable."

UPDATE: Fox News has posted a useful discussion here

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The real aim of campaign finance reform?

George Will has an interesting discussion of why Democrats have pushed so hard for campaign finance reform. I have written about the McCarthy and McGovern cases myself, and the explanation he gives seem plausible. But it would be nice if it were based on more than conjecture, even if it is quite plausible.

The modern drive for campaign finance "reforms" is usually said to have been initiated by Democrats in response to Watergate. Democrats did start it, but before Watergate, in response to their traumas of 1968.

That year, Sen. Gene McCarthy's anti-Vietnam insurgency disturbed the Democratic Party's equilibrium by mounting a serious challenge to the renomination of President Lyndon Johnson. McCarthy was able to do that only because a few wealthy people gave him large contributions. Democrats also were alarmed by former Alabama governor George Wallace's success in 1968, and they mistakenly assumed that Wallace, too, was mostly funded by a few very large contributions.

According to John Samples of the Cato Institute (in his book " The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform"), congressional Democrats began the process that culminated in criminalizing large contributions -- the kind that can give long-shot candidates, such as Vilsack, a chance to become competitive. Yes, the initial aim of campaign "reforms" was less the proclaimed purpose of combating corruption or "the appearance" thereof than it was to impede the entry of inconvenient candidates into presidential campaigns. In that sense, campaign reform is a government program that has actually worked, unfortunately. . . .



Proposed law for Georgia allowing guns stored in cars

Bob Barr has an op-ed on a proposed law in Georgia that would allow people to store a gun in their car(link here).


Incentives matter even among birds: threats to destroy nests ensure that other birds raise cowbirds' offspring

Raise my kids, or else! People have long wondered how cowbirds can get away with leaving their eggs in the nests of other species, who then raise the baby cowbirds. Why don't the hosts just toss the strange eggs out? Now researchers seem to have an answer _ if the host birds reject the strange eggs, the cowbirds come back and trash the place.

The so-called "Mafia behavior," by brown-headed cowbirds is reported in this week's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"It's the female cowbirds who are running the mafia racket at our study site," Jeffrey P. Hoover, of the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Illinois Natural History Survey, said in a statement.

"Our study shows many of them returned and ransacked the nest when we removed the parasitic egg," he explained.

Hoover and Scott K. Robinson of the Florida museum studied cowbirds over four seasons in the Cache River watershed in southern Illinois.

While cowbirds leave their eggs in many other birds nests, the researchers focused on warblers in the study because warblers usually accept and raise cowbird eggs.

To see what would happen, Hoover and Robinson watched where the cowbirds left eggs in warbler nests, and then removed some of them.

They found that 56 percent of the nests where cowbird eggs were removed were later ransacked.

They also found evidence of what they called 'farming' behavior,' in which cowbirds destroyed a nest to force the host bird to build another. The cowbird then synchronized its egg laying with the hosts' 'renest' attempt.

"Cowbirds parasitized 85 percent of the renests, which is strong supporting evidence for both farming and mafia behavior," Hoover said. . . .


Texas may end new gun ban in foster homes

There has never been a problem with guns in foster homes, but that didn't stop the new ban from going into effect. The article has a useful discussion about how the regulation is interfering with the ability of those families to go hunting.

AUSTIN – A new state rule prohibits firearms in foster homes where severely emotionally disturbed or mentally retarded children are living, but a Dallas-area lawmaker calls the regulation unnecessary and has moved to overturn it.

Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, said foster parents shouldn't be barred from keeping guns in their homes, and after hearing from constituents upset about the rule, he has filed a bill to force the state to return to a previous regulation that focused on weapons storage. The new provision affects about 1,500 abused and neglected children, about 7 percent of Texas foster children, officials say.

The Department of Family and Protective Services said Monday that it knows of no Texas foster child who has been injured or killed by a gun while in care. "But our research has identified guns as a risk to children," said Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the agency. . . .



France: Film police violence, go to jail

Scooter Libby Trial Verdict

The Lancet estimate of 650,000 Iraqis Dying a Fraudulent Claim?

The statistics made headlines all over the world when they were published in The Lancet in October last year. More than 650,000 Iraqis – one in 40 of the population – had died as a result of the American-led invasion in 2003. The vast majority of these “excess” deaths (deaths over and above what would have been expected in the absence of the occupation) were violent. The victims, both civilians and combatants, had fallen prey to airstrikes, car bombs and gunfire.

Body counts in conflict zones are assumed to be ballpark – hospitals, record offices and mortuaries rarely operate smoothly in war – but this was ten times any other estimate. Iraq Body Count, an antiwar web-based charity that monitors news sources, put the civilian death toll for the same period at just under 50,000, broadly similar to that estimated by the United Nations Development Agency.

The implication of the Lancet study, which involved Iraqi doctors knocking on doors and asking residents about recent deaths in the household, was that Iraqis were being killed on an horrific scale. The controversy has deepened rather than evaporated. Several academics have tried to find out how the Lancet study was conducted; none regards their queries as having been addressed satisfactorily. Researchers contacted by The Times talk of unreturned e-mails or phone calls, or of being sent information that raises fresh doubts. . . . .

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Walter Reed Veteran Medical Care and Public Provision

When will people make the connection between the problems at Walter Reed for veterans and the lack of incentives that exist in public provision? This isn't a deep point, but I am not seeing it mentioned in the media. The question is whether any of those pushing for a single payer health care system will see the connection.

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Ann Coulter on Edwards

When people got upset about Ann Coulter's comments about John Edwards I thought that she was referring to this incident about Edwards' obsession with his hair. Unfortunately, Edwards also went after Chenney's daughter being a lesbian during the vice presidential debate.

For those who want more background on Ann's comments see this from Hannity and Colmes.

That said, nothing at all is gained by calling others names. I think that it was a very serious mistake. Let the others look mean. Let others have a monopoly on name calling. I may be idealistic, but let us try to argue on ideas.



Dramatic Defensive Gun Use Saves Woman's Life

Jackson, Mississippi (March 5, 2007)
As customers watched in horror Sunday afternoon, a man stabbed a woman and attempted to set her on fire in the parking lot of a Jackson store, witnesses said.

The attack was stopped by a passer-by, who held the man at gunpoint until police arrived, witnesses said.

The suspect, Henry Watson, 42, was arrested and is expected to face aggravated assault charges, Jackson Police Department Cmdr. Lee Vance said. Watson's wife, Gracie Watson, 42, was transported to the University of Mississippi Medical center, where she was listed in good condition.

"It wasn't five minutes from when she had left my line when I heard a scream outside," said Theresa Stuckey, a cashier at the Family Dollar at 516 Nakoma Drive in Jackson. "I looked out, and (the attacker) was on top of her stabbing her, and stabbing her and stabbing her.

"She was screaming, 'Help, he's trying to kill me!' She was rolling on the ground, trying to get out of the way, but he kept stabbing her. He stabbed her about 20 times in the neck, back and arms."

As the attack continued, people were yelling at the man to stop and honking their horns, Stuckey said. She said she called 911.

"He was just standing over her hacking away," said Dolly Baker, who had just left the Save-A-Lot store next door when she saw the attack.

Baker said she watched the man pour gasoline on the victim then try to strike a match.

"He was literally trying to kill that lady in broad daylight," she said.

Baker said a passer-by stopped the attack.

"He told the man, 'Stop, or I'm going to shoot. And if you run, I'm going to kill you,' " Baker said. . . .

Thanks to Tom for sending this to me.

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Some cities that require people own guns

Most are probably familiar with Kennesaw, Georgia or Love, Utah's requirements that citizens own guns. But there are a few others that people might not know about: Greenleaf, Idaho; Geuda Springs, Kansas; Virgin, Utah; and Cherry Tree, Pennsylvania.

UPDATE: N. W. Clayton informs me that "the Utah courts struck down the Town of Virgin's ordinance requiring residents to own guns shortly after it was enacted, due to the ordinance's violation of Utah's pre-emption law, which prohibits state and local government entities from enacting any firearms regulations without explicit authorization from the State Legislature. Ironically, this law was passed in the 1990s to prevent local governments from creating a checkerboard of gun-control statutes, but it applies to all firearms regulations, including regulations that require residents to own firearms."

He also pointed out: "On another matter, you may be interested to know that the Utah Legislature defeated a bill last week that would have prohibited firearms in faculty and staff offices at state-run colleges and universities. The University of Utah (also known as "the U", where I went to graduate school), after having seen the Utah Supreme Court declare the U's campus-wide gun ban to be illegal, begged the Legislature to grant individual faculty and staff members the authority to declare their offices "gun free". Under the proposal, if a concealed-weapon permit holder wanted to enter a "gun free" office, he would have to remove his weapon first. The bill required the university to install a storage locker somewhere in the vicinity of a "gun free" office, though this requirement had no enforcement clause and would likely have been ignored. A permit holder who entered a "gun free" office with his weapon would have been guilty of a criminal offense. If this bill had passed and I had gone to the U to speak with a professor who had a "gun free" office, and if no lockers were provided, I would have simply unholstered my loaded weapon and set it on the floor outside the office.

The bill did not address the issue of shared offices or office spaces with cubicles, both of which are common at universities. Also, even if lockers had been installed, I can imagine people freaking out when they saw someone unholstering and unloading a firearm in broad daylight. Furthermore, this would have defeated one of the purposes of concealed carry, which is to keep people from knowing who's armed and who isn't. The list of concealed-weapon permit holders is supposed to be kept confidential under state law, but this bill would have been a de facto way of forcing permit holders to declare themselves in public.

The substitute version of the bill that passed merely allows students in campus housing at state colleges and universities to request assignment to a roommate who does not have a CCW permit, though there is no requirement that that such a roommate assignment be guaranteed. Given that the list of permit holders is secret, and given that the U is prohibited from requiring students to declare whether they have a permit, I'm not sure how this will work out."

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Concealed Handgun Permit Rate in Minnesota

More than 42,000 people are licensed to carry handguns in public in Minnesota, 19,147 of them in the seven-county Twin Cities area, the state Department of Public Safety reported Thursday. . . . .

The article makes a big deal of the fact that fewer people got a permit than was originally perdicted. If they had listened to my predictions, they wouldn't be making this claim. Second, the quote below is exactly what David Mustard and I argued in our 1997 JLS paper.

Since passage of the law, which overturned a system that gave police chiefs and sheriffs wide discretion to deny permits, the number of permits has more than tripled. The increase has been even more marked in the Twin Cities area, where law enforcement officials previously kept a tight rein on permits. . . . .

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Is the draft Gore movement going anyplace?

Yet, more problems with Wikipedia

This is not particularly surprising:

In a blink, the wisdom of the crowd became the fury of the crowd. In the last few days, contributors to Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia, have turned against one of their own who was found to have created an elaborate false identity.

Under the name Essjay, the contributor edited thousands of Wikipedia articles and was once one of the few people with the authority to deal with vandalism and to arbitrate disputes between authors.

To the Wikipedia world, Essjay was a tenured professor of religion at a private university with expertise in canon law, according to his user profile. But in fact, Essjay is a 24-year-old named Ryan Jordan, who attended a number of colleges in Kentucky and lives outside Louisville.

Mr. Jordan contended that he resorted to a fictional persona to protect himself from bad actors who might be angered by his administrative role at Wikipedia. (He did not respond to an e-mail message, nor to messages conveyed by the Wikipedia office.)

The Essjay episode underlines some of the perils of collaborative efforts like Wikipedia that rely on many contributors acting in good faith, often anonymously and through self-designated user names. But it also shows how the transparency of the Wikipedia process — all editing of entries is marked and saved — allows readers to react to suspected fraud. . . . .

Freerepublic has more information on Mr. Jordan:
This Essjay character is VERY typical of the Wikipedia administrator elite. The NYT has the basics, but they also leave out a lot about him.
Specifically - Essjay claimed to be a homosexual theologian and frequently espoused far left versions of Christianity in his article edits. He basically used his phony Ph.D. to browbeat his leftist point of view into articles on Christianity by citing himself as an expert.

He is also one of dozens of radical gays who CURRENTLY populate the upper tiers of wikipedia's administration. This guy is just the tip of the iceburg at Wikipedia.

Some people are trying to set up an alternative to Wikipedia. Given the liberal bias of Wikipedia, they claim that "Wikipedia is "anti-American", "anti-Christian" and "anti-capitalism" according to US fundamentalist Christians who have set up their own online reference site, Conservapedia, to protect themselves from the evils of the world."



"Denying self-defense to GIs in Iraq"

It would be an interesting study to see what hapens to the number of troop deaths before and after the adoption of these rules. You raise the cost of defending people and it makes them more likely targets.

As part of President Bush's troop surge now under way in Iraq, he insisted that Iraqi leaders "lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and coalition forces." That's an important step, but a deeply ironic one, because it overlooks other unreasonable restrictions imposed on US soldiers – by the US government.

In 2005, the Pentagon amended its Standing Rules of Engagement (ROE). The new rules make it harder for US troops to boldly counter hostile acts, and they specifically allow commanders to limit the right of soldiers to defend themselves!

The United States seeks to bring peace to Iraq by winning the "hearts and minds" of the civilian population. Unnecessary collateral damage and innocent civilian deaths undermine this effort. Presumably, the new ROE, which allow unit commanders to "limit individual self-defense by members of their unit" after notifying the secretary of Defense, were adopted with a noble purpose in mind: to lessen civilian casualties. However, limiting the right of self-defense is too drastic and it puts soldiers at risk.

Commanders take these restrictions seriously. Newsweek magazine recently quoted Marine Capt. Rob Secher, who complained that "anytime an American fires a weapon there has to be an investigation into why there was an escalation of force." . . . .

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NY Times also gets Jim Zumbo case wrong

The NY Times comments on the Jim Zumbo case:

Everyone knows what a prairie dog is: a chubby North American rodent that lives in a communal burrow and grows to be about a foot long. “Assault rifle” is a much touchier term. It is generally understood to be the kind of gun that soldiers use in wars and terrorists use on the evening news. But the gun lobby despises “assault rifle,” considering it a false, scary label tacked onto perfectly legitimate weapons by people who want to take away others’ rights.

That is a debate for another day. The question for now is whether the hunter, Jim Zumbo, deserved what he got after he wrote on his blog that hunters should shun what he called assault rifles — semiautomatics like the AR-15, a cousin of the M-16, and civilian knockoffs of the AK-47. “Excuse me, maybe I’m a traditionalist,” he wrote, “but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity.” He added: “To most of the public, an assault rifle is a terrifying thing. Let’s divorce ourselves from them. I say game departments should ban them from the prairies and woods.” . . . .

This is what I posted before:

The problem isn't that he made a political mistake, the problem is that this guy doesn't know what he was talking about. These military-style assault rifles are functionally the same as hunting rifles. A .308 caliber AK-47 "assault" weapon fires bullets that are no more powerful and at the same rate as a regular deer hunting rifle. They are both semi-automatic guns. This AK-47 is a civilian version of the weapon. It is not the military version.


Lunar Eclipse Tonight

Teacher's union is trying stop Utah Voucher Law

Surprise, the Utah teacher's union is trying stop the recently enacted voucher system in the state. It is understandable that the teacher's union dislikes competition. One positive note is that the teacher's union has tried petitions before on gun issues and they have failed (Utah's petition rules require that petitioners get signatures from across the state and not just liberal Salt Lake City and that lowers the chances of getting something on the ballot). Given that the union is probably more motivated this time, the odds are higher, but they still might fail. My guess is that once vouchers are in place for a while, it will be a lot like concealed handgun laws. People will wonder what all the concern was about.

Less than 24 hours after the Legislature adjourned, opponents of the school voucher program applied for a referendum petition that could land a final decision in the hands of voters in the next general election.
Utahns for Public Schools, a group formed to head up the task of gathering nearly 100,000 signatures — 91,998 to be exact — in the next 40 days, filed the application asking Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert to consider their cause.
"This is so important that the people in this state should get to vote on it," said Pat Rusk, former president of the Utah Education Association. "We are going to make sure that the citizens of Utah get to decide if they want their tax dollars going to private schools." . . . .

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Hysterical police and fire department reaction to guns and ammunition held by collector

It would be nice if you actually had to violate some law before the police would confiscate the guns and ammunition that someone held. So police found "large amounts of guns, large amounts of ammunition"? "Each rifle was loaded"? Again, so what? I am willing to guess that there "could be a million bullets here" is an extreme exaggeraged guess. The reporter trying to scare the neighbors is just amazing. People living in LA might consider contacting KTLA.

Some commentary here.
The KTLA film can be seen here.

Thanks to Jason Mullner for alerting me to this.

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No bounce from the Academy Awards


Cars save lives compared to horses: Technology saves lives

Cars improved the air ... that's no bull

Published on: 02/27/07
The motto of all environmentalists should be "Thank goodness for the internal combustion engine."

The abuse heaped on the internal combustion engine by environmentalists was never justified. But a recent story on cow flatulence in the British newspaper, The Independent, makes the environmental benefits from gasoline-powered engines even more obvious. Based on a recent study by the Food and Agricultural Organization, The Independent reports that "livestock are responsible for 18 percent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together."

Long before global warming became an environmental concern, however, the move from the power provided by animals to that provided by gasoline had greatly improved the environment. The emissions that came out of the tailpipes of horses were much more lethal pollutants that those now coming out of the tailpipes of cars. Horse emissions did more than make our town and cities stink; they spread fly-borne diseases and polluted water supplies that killed people at a far greater rate than the pollution from cars and trucks ever have.

Photochemical smog is clearly a health risk, but not nearly the health risk of cholera, diphtheria and tetanus that have been largely eliminated with the help of gasoline powered transportation.

Before the internal combustion engine it wasn't just cows, sheep and pigs emitting pollution down on the farm. Tractors and other types of gas-powered farm machinery eliminated the horses, mules and oxen that had provided most of the power necessary to grow and harvest our food and fiber. This not only reduced the problem that still exists from animal waste that environmentalists, with justification, still complain about. The internal combustion engine also eliminated the need to produce food to fuel millions upon millions of agricultural beasts of burden. It has been estimated that in 1900 it took about 93 million acres of land to grow the food for the farm animals that were replaced by current farm machinery. Most of that land has now gone back to woodlands, greatly increasing the number of trees that are reducing the problem of global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide.

The above consideration should have been enough to warrant an environmental shrine to the internal combustion engine. And now we find that by eliminating all those farm-yard animals, the internal combustion engine also eliminated vast amounts of methane-producing flatulence, which is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide produce by burning gasoline. . . . .

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Gore Admonishing the Media to Report only One side of Global Warming Issue

This reminds me of Gore's book, Earth in the Balance, where he also argued that the media should only report bad environmental news and not good news because doing so would prevent us from making the necessary changes. Well, that book was published in the early 1990s. Of course, my guess is that things are biased in the other direction.

Also, there is a big jump between saying that there is global warming and that we should do something about it or that we should do any of the things that Gore is advocating.

I believe that is one of the principal reasons why political leaders around the world have not yet taken action," Gore said. "There are many reasons, but one of the principal reasons in my view is more than half of the mainstream media have rejected the scientific consensus implicitly — and I say 'rejected,' perhaps it's the wrong word. They have failed to report that it is the consensus and instead have chosen … balance as bias.

"I don't think that any of the editors or reporters responsible for one of these stories saying, 'It may be real, it may not be real,' is unethical. But I think they made the wrong choice, and I think the consequences are severe.

"I think if it is important to look at the pressures that made it more likely than not that mainstream journalists in the United States would convey a wholly inaccurate conclusion about the most important moral, ethical, spiritual and political issue humankind has ever faced." . . . .

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What kind of judges has Giuliani appointed in the past?: Liberal Democrats

This does not seem very consistent with Giuliani's promise to appoint strict constructionists. In addition, I believe that I have heard him point to the types of judges that he has appointed in the past as a guide to what he would do in the future:

When Rudy Giuliani faces Republicans concerned about his support of gay rights and legal abortion, he reassures them that he is a conservative on the decisions that matter most.

"I would want judges who are strict constructionists because I am," he told South Carolina Republicans last month. "Those are the kinds of justices I would appoint -- Scalia, Alito and Roberts."

But most of Giuliani's judicial appointments during his eight years as mayor of New York were hardly in the model of Chief Justice John Roberts or Samuel Alito -- much less aggressive conservatives in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

A Politico review of the 75 judges Giuliani appointed to three of New York state's lower courts found that Democrats outnumbered Republicans by more than 8 to 1. One of his appointments was an officer of the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Judges. Another ruled that the state law banning liquor sales on Sundays was unconstitutional because it was insufficiently secular. . . . .

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Supreme Court Going to Decide About Whether to Allow High Speed Police Chases

This is a case for the Supreme Court? The problem with the decisions at the district and circuit court levels is that the courts looked at what they thought were the costs and benefits from pursuit in those cases. Even if a particular pursuit turns out badly, the threat of pursuit may stop a lot of other crimes from occuring. It is too bad that the person in this case became paralyzed, but what about the other crimes that were stopped?

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a case expected to lay down new rules about when and how law-enforcement officers can chase suspects and use their vehicles to stop them.

At issue before the court is whether a Georgia police officer went too far when he rammed his vehicle into the car of a driver who refused to pull over for speeding. The car went down an embankment, and the crash left the 19-year-old driver paralyzed from the neck down.

Civil liberties advocates and critics of police chases are concerned that a ruling for the officer in the case would give law enforcement the green light to use more aggressive tactics even for minor offenses.

Most Central Florida law-enforcement agencies have policies that prohibit pursuits when only traffic or minor offenses are involved, although some policies are more restrictive than others.

Law-enforcement officers across the country are concerned that a ruling for the driver would put them in legal jeopardy for split-second decisions at crime scenes.

But even if the court rules in favor of the deputy, don't expect area law-enforcement agencies to change how they deal with fleeing suspects, one veteran Central Florida police official said Sunday. . . . .

As the chase continued on Georgia Highway 74, at speeds of up to 90 mph, Scott took over and led the pursuit.

Seconds later, Scott asked permission to use the PIT maneuver, and his supervisor responded over the radio: "Take him out; take him out."

But they were traveling too fast on a wet two-lane road for the maneuver, so Scott rammed Harris' Cadillac in the rear, sending the car down an embankment.

Harris was paralyzed and was never prosecuted.

He filed a lawsuit against Scott, alleging violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment's guarantees against unreasonable seizures and excessive force. . . . .

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