"A complete list of things caused by global warming"

Immigrants changing the US

Rush Limbaugh's Take on Last Night's Republican Presidential Debate

"Except for Fred Thompson, all the GOP candidates swerved into moderate mushiness last night."

Here is a new Thompson ad on youtube.

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Possibly global warming fanatics have gone too far with this one

GDP increased at an annual rate of 4.9 percent in the third quarter of 2007

Someone asks me about Lieberman-Warner's Climate Security Act

Someone asked me what I thought about this bill before congress. "The first, most important thing is that any bill has to include real, mandatory cuts in global warming pollution." Here are some questions to think about:

Is there clear evidence that mankind is contributing to global warming? Hardly.
Even if there were evidence, is warming on net bad? Hardly.
Even if there were evidence of mankind's contribution and that warming is bad, we already have a lot of gasoline and other taxes. Do we know if those taxes are already too high? If so even if the arguments being made are true, we might have to actually cut the tax.

I have made these points before on this blog with some more references, but apparently it was necessary to make this point again.

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Some of the media for Thursday.

I will be in a call-in program on CSPAN1 to discuss Freedomnomics tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 10:40 AM EST. I will be on after Ron Paul and before Pat Buchanan. As long as you have a computer you can watch a live stream of the event here.

At noon, I will be on Air America's Thom Hartmann's Show. The telephone calls on that show the last time that I was on were pretty wild. Overall, it was one of the livelier radio shows that I have been on. It seems safe to predict that there will be a lot of fireworks.

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Some Feedback on My Op-ed on Women's Suffrage

Gore friend's cruise ship on tour of impact of global warming strikes iceberg.


New Op-ed: Does the Fear of Jail Actually Prevent Crime?

Even Environmental Agency Worries about Problems with fluorescent light bulbs

Grandma Stops Burglars with Guns

Two new Fred Thompson Ads

Obama the strongest Democratic Candidate, Clinton the Weakest

Thompson is very strangely left out of this comparison, and it is especially strange given that he is number 2 among Republicans in the polls for the Republican nomination and also that he has been doing very well against the Democrats in the past. (UPDATE: Sean Hannity said on his show today that Thompson is also ahead of Clinton in these polls.) In any case, I wonder if Dems will start to desert Clinton if they thought that she was their weakest candidate. What is interesting is how little variation there is in the percent obtained by the different Republican candidates when you look at any individual Democrat. The range of percentages of Republicans against Obama is only 2 percent and the same is true when one looks at the Republicans against Edwards or Clinton. By contrast, there is a much bigger spread among the Democrats when you look at an individual Republican (6 percentage points is typical across the Democrats).

Possible match-ups - 2008 U.S. presidential election

John McCain (R) 38% - 45% Barack Obama (D)
Rudy Giuliani (R) 41% - 46% Barack Obama (D)
Mitt Romney (R) 41% - 46% Barack Obama (D)
Mike Huckabee (R) 40% - 46% Barack Obama (D)

John McCain (R) 41% - 42% John Edwards (D)
Rudy Giuliani (R) 43% - 44% John Edwards (D)
Mitt Romney (R) 42% - 44% John Edwards (D)
Mike Huckabee (R) 42% - 45% John Edwards (D)

John McCain (R) 42% - 38% Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)
Rudy Giuliani (R) 43% - 40% Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)
Mitt Romney (R) 43% - 40% Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)
Mike Huckabee (R) 44% - 39% Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)

Source: Zogby Interactive
Methodology: Online interviews with 9,150 American adults, conducted from Nov. 21 to Nov. 26, 2007. Margin of error is 1 per cent.


New Op-ed: Women's suffrage over time

Freedomnomics Recommended as "Great Gift" for Holidays

Craig Newmark recommends Freedomnomics for Christmas presents.

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CBS Correspondent Predicts Close Decision Over DC Gun Ban Case with

Even more importantly he predicts that with Kennedy as the swing vote, most gun control will still be allowed. I assume that this isn't the same standard that Kennedy thinks applies to the first and fourth amendments.

One of Justice Anthony Kennedy's law clerks, Orrin Kerr, recently predicted this precise scenario. After declaring that there is an individual right under the Second Amendment, "Kennedy will endorse a relatively deferential standard of review that will end up allowing a great deal of gun regulation," wrote Kerr.

It matters what Kerr thinks about Kennedy because it matters what Kennedy thinks about the court. Almost certainly he will be the "5" if the gun case is decided, as most think it will be, through a 5-4 ruling. The litigants surely know this and so will cater their briefs to push the Swing Justice in one direction or the other. But will Kennedy, in the end, be willing to forge the compromise that ends that individual/collective "dichotomy" that Professor Cornell complains about? . . . . .

Thanks to John Lazar for sending me this link.

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Well I actually know a murderer

I have frequently written and talked about how unlikely it is for the type of people who I lecture to at universities to know someone who has committed murder. When you consider that about 90 percent of adult murderers have an adult criminal record, that they have long histories of social problems, that they overwhelmingly live in just a few percent of the counties in the US and are usually young black males, the odds are just very low. Well, I can now say with certainty, that I know a murderer. Rafael Robb was an economics professor at Penn when I was there, and we went out to dinner a couple of times. I had very briefly meet him when I was in graduate school at UCLA.

A former Ivy League professor pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter for killing his wife as she wrapped Christmas presents last year, telling a judge he "just lost it" during an argument.

Rafael Robb, once a tenured economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, faces a likely prison sentence of 4 1/2 to seven years for bludgeoning his wife, Ellen, on Dec. 22.

Robb, 57, said Monday that he got into an argument with his wife about a trip she was taking with their daughter and whether they would be returning in time for the daughter to return to school.

"We started a discussion about that. The discussion was tense," Robb said. "We were both anxious about it. We both got angry. At one point, Ellen pushed me. ... I just lost it."

This is one part that reminds me of the unjustified egos of a lot of academics:

A former Ivy League professor pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter for killing his wife as she wrapped Christmas presen Robb was an expert in game theory, a complex melding of psychology, human behavior and economics — all aimed at determining what one's adversary will do next.

With that background, police say, Robb may have thought he could outsmart them.


Why Athletes need guns

A few years ago I wrote an op-ed on Athletes and Guns. It is hard for some to understand why athletes, people who are so big and strong, would want to have a gun for self protection. Take the case this week of Sean Taylor:

Washington Redskins star safety Sean Taylor was in critical condition Monday after surgery for a gunshot wound to his leg during what police are investigating as a possible armed robbery at his home.

Athletes are attractive targets because they are wealthy and so high profile.

Here is another recent robbery of another professional football player's home involving Houston Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson.

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C-SPAN 2 tonight at 7 PM EST

I will be on CSPAN2 tonight for 46 minutes to discuss Freedomnomics.

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Most Acquaintance Murders in NYC involve Criminals Killing Criminals

This is a point that I have tried to make in my books on crime. Too often the term acquaintance murder is used to imply people who are somehow emotionally close to each other:

It is extremely common around the nation to find in killings involving acquaintances that those involved are not family members but criminals or drug gang members, said David M. Kennedy, the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.

In the 412 killings this year, the number of people with previous arrests for narcotics was striking: 196 victims and 149 assailants. And 77 percent of the assailants had a previous arrest history, while 70 percent of the victims did, the statistics showed.

Killers and those killed are overwhelmingly male and most in both categories are between 18 and 40, according to the police analysis. In terms of race and ethnicity, whites make up 7 percent of victims and assailants, while 66 percent of the victims and 61 percent of the assailants are black and 26 percent of the victims and 31 percent of the assailants are Hispanic.

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New Posting up at Jurist.law.pitt.edu

Here is a piece that I have just had posted at Jurist.law.pitt.edu

What is also interesting is how the Supreme Court has rewritten the question posed by DC. DC originally asked that the question be: "Whether the Second Amendment forbids the District of Columbia from banning private possession of handguns while allowing possession of rifles and shotguns." The new question is: “Whether the following provisions — D.C. Code secs. 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 — violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?”

What is most striking about this revised question is that the court appears to be questioning the city's claim that the ban comes "nowhere close to disarmament of residents. The District's overwhelming interest in reducing death and injury caused by handguns outweighs respondent's asserted need . . . ." DC adds that they don't believe that the regulations that lock up and require the disassembling of guns does not "prevent the use of a lawful firearm in self-defense." Of course, this is highly debatable because under DC law as soon as a rifle or shotgun is made operational it becomes illegal.

But taking DC claims as accurate, locked guns are simply not as readily accessible for defensive gun uses. In the U.S., states that require guns be locked up and unloaded face a 5 percent increase in murder and a 12 percent increase in rapes. Criminals are more likely to attack people in their homes and those attacks are more likely to be successful. . . .



I just hope that James Taranto is correct about Guiliani

James Taranto seems a lot more confident about Guiliani's views on guns than I am.

What about those social conservatives Mr. Giuliani has to win over? A few hours after I interviewed Mr. Olson, he introduced Mr. Giuliani's speech at the annual conference of the Federalist Society, the hub of the conservative legal community. Sure enough, the former mayor promised that as president he will choose judicial nominees "with the advice of people like Ted." He seemed to be on the same page as his adviser: "We need judges who embrace originalism, endeavor to determine what others meant when they wrote the words of our Constitution--justices like Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas, Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts. That would be my model."

He reassured the gun-rights constituency, praising the recent appellate decision that struck down the District of Columbia's handgun ban as a violation of the Second Amendment.

Well, I was at Guiliani's talk to the Federalist Society and I wasn't convinced:

John Lott, author of "More Guns, Less Crime" told Cybercast News Service he was disappointed he did not have the opportunity to ask Giuliani questions.

"He talks about how it's an abuse of the legal process for people to bring suits that try to accomplish public policy goals," said Lott.

"So I wanted to ask him about his suit against gun manufacturers. He has talked about how this suit has morphed into something he disagreed with and I wanted him to be specific and tell how this suit had changed and what had been included that now he disagreed with," he added.

James is a smart guy. Possibly he is right, but I have my doubts.

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Copying is the sincerest form of flattery?

From Friday's Wall Street Journal, an article by Mike Cox on the DC gun ban notes that:

Crime rose significantly after the gun ban went into effect. In the five years before the 1976 ban, the murder rate fell to 27 from 37 per 100,000. In the five years after it went into effect, the murder rate rose to 35. 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.

From a piece that I wrote in 2004

Crime rose significantly after the gun ban went into effect. 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. . . . In fact, while murder rates have varied over time, during the almost 30 years since the ban, the murder rate has only once fallen below what it was in 1976.

This involves only three sentences that total 172 words in the piece, but it is still a little irritating. There were two changes in what I wrote: 1) because three years have gone by since I wrote the original piece the "almost 30 years" that I wrote was changed to "30 years" and 2) "fell from 37 to 27" was changed to "fell to 27 from 37." Otherwise it was identical. The first change is most troublesome because it indicates that Cox (or someone who wrote it for him) probably looked at what I wrote and the date on it in order to make the change.

This is getting to be a fairly common "crime" these days for example with Law Professor Ian Ayres being one of the more recent people caught:
“Several passages in Yale Law School professor Ian Ayres ... new book are unattributed verbatim reproductions or nearly identical paraphrases of passages from various newspaper and magazine articles published in the last twenty years, an investigation by the [Yale Daily] News has shown."

Yet, as some have noted in Ayres' case, "The problem with [Ayres'] explanation---whether used by Ayres or the others---is that it explains how a verbatim quotation can end up unattributed but is not so credible in explaining how an almost-verbatim paraphrase ends up unattributed. . . . But paraphrases in which the sentence structure is altered ever so slightly is much harder to explain as the result of inadvertence."

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Some leaks in one case for justifying higher tax rates

David Henderson has a good analysis of some recent justifications for higher marginally tax rates by Economist Robert Frank:

A summary of Frank's argument is in order. He claims that many of the goods we buy are "positional." In other words, their value to those who own them depends strongly on relative position rather than anything absolute. Frank gives the example of a Ferrari Scaglietti, a car that sells in the United States for about $250,000. According to Frank, purchases of such cars and of 60,000-square-foot houses "subtly change the social frame of reference that defines what kinds of houses and cars seem necessary or appropriate." The people who buy such things up the ante on their purchases, and then the people "below" them do likewise, and so on down the income scale. Frank calls this alleged phenomenon an "expenditure cascade." In buying positional goods, the highest-income people, writes Frank, impose a negative externality on the people below them, who then, through their purchases, impose a negative externality on those below them, and so on. Frank advocates the standard economist's solution to a negative externality, which is a tax on the activity that generates the externality. Frank's favored tax is a tax on consumption, with a higher rate for those who consume more.

As a bonus, argues Frank, a government can tax high-income people even more than it currently does without making them worse off. How so? For simplicity, imagine a society in which there are a million people making more than $500,000 a year. Most of us would agree, I think, that those people have high incomes. Imagine that they now pay 30 percent of their income in federal income taxes. Now imagine that the government, following Frank's suggestion, imposes a tax on consumption above some amount per year and, thus, raises tax rates on high-income people so that those million people now pay 40 percent of their income in federal income taxes. Because their relative position with respect to each other would be unchanged, and because they spend so much money on positional goods anyway, they would not care--or so the argument goes. As Frank testified, "Thus, if a consumption tax led wealthy families to buy 5,000-square-foot houses instead [of] 8,000, and Porsche Boxsters instead of Ferraris, no one would really be worse off, and several hundred thousand dollars of resources per family would be freed up for more pressing purposes." . . . .

I won't speak for Frank, but while I would like a Porsche, a Ferrari would be even neater. Would I also like a bigger, newer house? Would I like these things even if everyone else wasn't jealous? I got an iPhone this summer, and I am very happy that I did. Did others like looking at it? Yes. But am I extremely happy that I have a smart phone that I can really effectively use all its features.

Well, David Henderson, doesn't always get things right, but, apparently, there were some problems with the original evidence that Frank used to make his point. One piece of supposed evidence: Employee salaries at the University of Michigan don't show the variation that they should if salaries vary with productivity. However, there are two very obvious problems with this as Henderson points out: 1) public institutions, just as with unions, compress wages. Anytime you let wages be determined by votes you tend to get that outcome. 2) University professors get paid in lots of ways other than salaries. Henderson points to other data problems here.

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Permits in Utah

This is kind of interesting that "1,000 non-resident citizens of foreign countries, from the Congo to Switzerland" have concealed handgun permits.

Nearly half of the 28,000 permits issued this year will go to out-of-state residents. Utah has issued more than 100,000 concealed gun permits since the program began in the early 1990s.

Ed McConkie, chief of the Bureau of Criminal Identification told the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee Wednesday some rule changes, including one that allows the BCI to keep the fees it collects for concealed weapon permits, has allowed the agency to catch up on its backlog of background checks.

Under law, the agency must issue the permit within 60 days. Before the new rule took effect, the waiting period had reached 120 days, violating the statute. Now it's 49 days for Utah applicants and 53 days for out-of-state residents. . . . .

Through reciprocity agreements, Utah's permit allows holders to carry a concealed gun in 34 states. More than 1,000 non-resident citizens of foreign countries, from the Congo to Switzerland, have been issued Utah permits.

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Defensive Gun Use: "Kill or be killed"

"What would you do if someone broke into your home? . . . What would you do if someone wants you dead?"
A dramatic example of a gang attacking a man at home and a man defending himself can be seen here. This is a really dramatic example.

Thanks to Andrew Breitbart for putting this up on his website.


Letter From Canadian Police Officer to Member of Parliament

I received this from Garry Breitkreuz's office:

I am a peace officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and am currently posted to the xxxxxxxxxx Detachment.

One of my current responsibilities is to train new cadets that have recently graduated from Depot Division by furthering their "hands on" training in the field. I am very concerned about this new Bill regarding firearms registration. I am concerned that if it is not passed in the House that more Mounties may face the same fate as the two young men did within this last month.

This firearms registration must be abolished once and for all! I find that I have to deprogram every cadet that I train when it comes to CFRO checks and their reliability in regards to officer safety. One dark evening, myself and a newly graduated cadet had to visit a residence of someone suspected of a violent crime. The cadet told me, rather proudly, that they had conducted a CFRO check on the house and that it showed that there were no firearms present, so we would not have to worry.

I scolded his ignorance and naivety. I told him to stop and think about that for a moment. I said, "Do you honestly think that someone who is already living a criminal lifestyle and is in possession of firearms has any intention of registering them?" I told him to never place any faith in the registry and most of all, never trust that notion that just because nothing is registered to an individual then an officer's safety is insured. Conversely also, do not ever believe that just because someone has a firearm registered that they will never use it in the commission of an offence! It does not matter if a gun is registered, if someone is bent on crime they will use a registered or non-registered gun. If no gun is available, they will use something else.

In my evaluation, the registry only causes more criminal code infractions (before the amnesty) as police query law abiding citizens' guns to see if they are registered only to find out that they may not be - in spite of the claims that the owner did in fact attempt to register them; or the information on the registration certificate is incorrect, etc. making the gun owner appear negligent.

The gun registry places police officers' lives at risk. The gun registry offers a false sense of security. The gun registry is making criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens. The gun registry is eating up resources that the RCMP and every other municipal or first nation force desperately need. The gun registry consumes valuable time for the average police officer on the street who has real crime to fight. Saying that the guns are the problem in this society is like saying pens are the cause of spelling errors, or that cars are the cause of drunk driving, or like saying fast food restaurants are the cause of obesity.

When will common sense prevail? People need to be held accountable for their actions - whether with firearms, alcohol, vehicles, etc. That is what the Conservatives did with the Liberals when in opposition and then on a larger scale once elected.

The gun registry brings justice into disrepute. It is an absolute waste of taxpayers money. The registry does nothing to fight the crime issues in this country. Please do everything possible to make sure that this Bill passes.

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Recommended Books for Christmas Gifts

Mike Adams, a criminology professor and columnist, sent out his annual list of books give and not to give as Christmas gifts:

"Freak-o-nomics," by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dupner.

This book has raised quite a stink with its assertion that legalizing abortion in the 1970s greatly reduced crime on the 1990s. The book also makes claims about the effects of right-to-carry laws on crime rates, which are contrary to what I have been saying in speeches on college campuses including Ohio University and, more recently, Bucknell University. Nonetheless, I always encourage my readers to seek contrary opinions.

"Freedom-nomics" by John R. Lott, Jr.

In this enjoyable book, Lott offers an intriguing argument about the true effects the 1973 "Roe" decision has had on crime. This argument alone makes the book well worth the purchase price. But Lott alsooffers a strong rebuttal to the assertion that right-to-carry laws have not reduced crime. Levitt and Dupner suggest that Lott may have fabricated data and that there has been a widespread inability of others to replicate his results. But, why then, are there more refereed studies (fifteen) showing that CCWs reduce homicide rates than refereed studies (ten) showing no effect? And why are there no (exactly zero) refereed studies showing the CCWs are increasing homicide rates? Was that not the principal argument against right-to-carry laws in the first place?

Lott also makes a strong case for the deterrent effect of the death penalty, which is causing this lifelong abolitionist to reconsider his position.



Happy Thanksgiving!

This has been another interesting year with much to be thankful for.


Finally, University of Iowa Police will begin carrying guns

Glenn Reynolds on the Second Amendment and the options the Supreme Court Faces

It can find that the Second Amendment doesn't grant individual rights, but only protects the right of states to arm their militias (or "state armies," as some gun-control advocates put it). This would make the DC case go away, but at some cost: If states have a constitutional right, as against the federal government, to arm their militias as they see fit, then states that don't like federal gun-control laws could just enroll every law-abiding citizen in the state militia and authorize those citizens to possess machine guns, tanks and other military gear.

This is the first time that I have seen this point. Putting the merits of this approach aside (even DC doesn't appear to really have its heart in this approach), I really wonder if gun control advocates know what they might be getting into if they get their wish regarding the DC gun ban.

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Saudi Arabia: Does its punishment for rape encourage the crime?

Saudi Arabia defended on Tuesday a court's decision to sentence a woman who was gang-raped to 200 lashes of the whip, after the United States described the verdict as "astonishing". . . . .

Putting aside one's reactions to this weird penalty, there is the question what impact it has on the total number of rapes. It is not clear. There are two effects. Surely, punishing women will make them even more willing to avoid situations that could result in rape. But it also makes it less likely that women will report rapes when they occur. It is not clear what the net effect is. It would be an interesting empirical study to see if Islamic law increased rape rates. The big problem with testing this is that if rapes stop being reported at the same time that the rules change, one would have to come with something imaginative to figure out how to measure the change in the number of rapes. Surveys would probably also be problematic.



Michael Medved reviews "Redacted": The "Could be the Worst Movie that I have ever seen"

Redacted is another critical movie on the Iraq war. Michael spares little in his critique: "Could be the Worst Movie that I have ever seen . . . none more disgusting than Redacted . . . close to vomitting . . . nothing quite like this . . . Mark Cuban . . . ought to be ashamed . . ." This is a pretty amazing discussion by Medved.

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Supreme Court Grants Cert for DC Gun Ban Case

Whatever one thinks is the obvious meaning of "shall not infringe," this case is a big risk. I would have thought that the first amendment was clear with "shall pass no law," but the court interpreted this as "Congress shall pass no law unless it has a good reason." The case is likely to be closely decided.

Probably one reason why the court took an extra week to announce that they were taking the case was because they were rewriting the question before the court:

Here is the way the Court phrased the granted issue:

“Whether the following provisions — D.C. Code secs. 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 — violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?”

The Scotusblog has a useful discussion of the case.

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Anti-Mormon Push Poll May Have Been Done by Romney?

If this is true, it could end Romney's campaign:

Who would be behind such a thing, given that the risks to any campaign caught dragging religion into the race would be enormous? After an extensive investigation, Mark Hemingway of National Review has fingered a likely culprit: "Although the Romney campaign denies involvement, evidence points in its general direction."

Why? One plausible motive would be to gather data about public reaction to negative information about the Mormon Church. Another might be to arouse sympathy for Mr. Romney and provide him a needed pretext to give a major address on why voters should not factor in his Mormon religion when making their presidential decision.

the firm making the calls is the Utah-based Western Wats, which may have direct ties to the Romney campaign. Back in August, people in Iowa and New Hampshire who received unwanted telephone calls of a political nature were able to trace those calls back to Western Wats. The client paying Western Wats was Target Point Consulting, a firm that had been received $720,000 from the Romney campaign. Alex Gage, president of Target Point, has been identified in the media as "Romney's Data Cruncher" and part of "Mitt Romney's Inner Circle."

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt has been all over this on his radio show and his guests have argued that it is most likely funded by George Soros.

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I was wrong about Huckabee, he is even worse then I thought

And I already thought that he was really bad, a kind of social conservative with left-wing economic views. I have written a few things on Huckabee here and here.

I have mentioned previously his obsession with the hysteria about man-made global warming being a real threat, but now he wants to further expand conservation, make us energy independent within four years, and expand ethanol and other biofuels. This is a recipe for economic poverty. Subsidize the sale of fruit and vegetables. Force use of fluorescent lights. This guy is a disaster. Is there anything that this guy won't mandate or subsidize or tax?

Talk about micromanaging. People aren't eating enough fruit, subsidize it.

I'm one of the few people who's actually talked about the fact that as Republicans we have done a lousy job of presenting the case for conservation. We ought to be the leaders, but unfortunately we've been the last people speaking out on conservation. . . . .

You've vowed in your presidential platform to achieve energy independence by your second term. . . . .

The key is to create [energy independence is] the kind of unbridled marketplace that turns innovators loose to find the solutions. I don't think we're going to find one big answer. I think it's going to be a combination of many that will include hydrogen, solar, wind, nuclear, domestically produced fossil fuels -- at least for the short term. . . . .

You mentioned your support for ethanol and other biofuels. . . . . .

replace light bulbs with the fluorescent types. We need to shoot for less fossil fuel, go to more energy-efficient and certainly non-carbon-producing methods of energy. . . . .

we can start making a genuine transition to healthier, more whole-food products, doing more to subsidize fruits and vegetables, rather than just the processed food, and creating the appetites in children by exposing them more to fruits and vegetables at the marketplace, and the schools, and their homes and neighborhoods. . . .

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The American Hunter Reviews Freedomnomics

This is from the December 2007 issue:

When John R. Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, sent me a copy of Freedomnomics, I was ready for my preconceptions to be busted; after all, this is the guy who, after years of research, proved that gun control doesn't lower crime rates -- actuall all it does is disarm law-abiding citizens. Freedomnomics starts with a hat tip to Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, then clearly shows what the free market has done for America and the free world. The book includes chapter titled "Crime and Punishment" that covers our Second Amendment freedoms. Lott delves into crime statistics to find out if things like the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban worked. When the ban expired in 2004 Sarah Brady predicted that it would effectively "arm our kids with Uzis and AK-47s." Instead, Lott's research shows the nationwide murder rate fell by 3 percent in 2004. This book busts anti-free market myths and will give you control and many other issues pertinent to America today.

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"Pasadena man remorseful about killings"

This is neither the cleanest nor best example of a defensive gun use:

The Pasadena man who killed two suspected burglars as they left his next-door neighbor's home did not intend to kill them when he stepped outside with his 12-gauge shotgun, his lawyer said Friday. . . . .

"He (Horn) was just doing what everyone is supposed to do," Lambright said at a news conference in front of the Houston police memorial near downtown. "He called the police. He was cooperating with them as best he could, trying to give the police the direction of the burglars. He knew there was danger going outside." . . . .

Lambright contended that Horn was startled to find the burglars just 15 feet from his front door when he stepped onto his porch. "He was petrified at that point," the lawyer said. "You hear him say, 'I'll shoot. Stop!' They jumped. Joe thought they were coming for him. It's a self-defense issue." . . . .

I am however bothered by the advice given by the 911 operator not to go outside to intervene. It appears as if the 911 operator is giving advice that would cover all such cases and I don't see how that is at all responsible.

Thanks to CM Ross for sending me this. She notes that it apparently took 8 minutes for the police to respond.


Movies that have attempted to Attack the War in Iraq are bombing

I am not sure what this means. It could either be that people don't want to listen to this type of political lecturing or that the opposition to the war is not that deep. After 10 days in the US (including two weekends), Lions for Lambs has earned $11.6 million. At tickets going for $10, that is only about 1,160,000 people going to see the movie. BEOWULF earned about that just this last Saturday. The BEE MOVIE has been out a week longer than Lions for Lambs, but it earned as much on Friday and Saturday in each third week as Lions for Lambs has made over each entire 10 days.



75 School district Employees in three Oregon School Districts have Concealed Handgun Permits

It is difficult to get a handle on the number of people in schools with handgun permits. 75 employees might not be a large number, but it would be useful to first figure out how many this implies on average per school in those districts.

More than 75 school district employees in the Eugene, Bethel and Springfield school districts have concealed handgun permits, but it is unclear how many, if any, carry their weapons to school.

The lawsuit of Shirley Katz, a Medford teacher who wants to carry a 9mm Glock on the South Medford High School campus, has garnered national attention, and last week a Jackson County judge denied Katz’s request to carry her gun to school.

State law is clear that holders of concealed handgun licenses can carry concealed weapons into schools. But in his ruling, Circuit Court Judge G. Philip Arnold said the Medford district’s policy, which prohibits employees from carrying weapons on school property, overrules the law.

Katz plans to appeal the ruling, and the question remains: Should teachers with concealed weapons permits be allowed to take guns into the classroom? . . . .

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Among Extremely Likely Voters Gallup Shows Giuliani and Thompson Very Close (25 to 21 percent)

Barry Bonds Perjury Trap

On Thursday, his very freedom was put in jeopardy when a federal grand jury indicted him on five felony counts of perjury and obstruction of justice, charges that could result in a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison if he's convicted.. . . .

Here are my questions:

1) Why wasn't he charged with illegal drug use? I have a hard time with these perjury charges where there is no claimed underlying crime.
2) Let Baseball deal with this. Why should this be something that prosecutors spend a lot of time dealing with?


Boston Police to Search People's Homes for Guns

Boston police are launching a program that will call upon parents in high-crime neighborhoods to allow detectives into their homes, without a warrant, to search for guns in their children's bedrooms.

The program, which is already raising questions about civil liberties, is based on the premise that parents are so fearful of gun violence and the possibility that their own teenagers will be caught up in it that they will turn to police for help, even in their own households.

In the next two weeks, Boston police officers who are assigned to schools will begin going to homes where they believe teenagers might have guns. The officers will travel in groups of three, dress in plainclothes to avoid attracting negative attention, and ask the teenager's parent or legal guardian for permission to search. If the parents say no, police said, the officers will leave. . . . .

Thanks to Rich for sending me this link.



Iowa State University campus police start carrying guns

Iowa State University campus police apparently started carrying firearms on Monday.

Thanks to Mike Miller for sending this to me.


An argument for the Supreme Court to Review the DC gun ban

Robert Levy in today's LA Times:

Later this month, the Supreme Court will decide whether to review the circuit court's blockbuster opinion in Parker vs. District of Columbia, the first federal appellate opinion to overturn a gun control law on the ground that the 2nd Amendment protects the rights of individuals. If the high court takes the case, oral arguments likely will be held this spring, with a decision expected before June 30. . . . .

The stakes are immense. Very few legal questions stir the passions like gun control. And this round of the courtroom battle will be fought during the heat of the 2008 election. Further, Washington is home to the federal government, making it an appropriate venue to challenge all federal gun laws, no matter where an alleged 2nd Amendment violation might have occurred. Thus, Parker could have an immediate effect not only on D.C. gun regulations but on federal regulations. . . . .

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Students sure demand a lot for their right to vote

According to the report, a survey of 3,000 students conducted by an NYU undergraduate journalism class found that an overwhelming majority of those polled said their right to vote could be for sale; in addition to the 66 percent who said they'd trade their vote for a free year of college, 20 percent said they'd exchange their vote for an Ipod Touch. Half of the students polled said they'd forfeit their right to vote forever for $1 million.

The probability that a person's vote will effect the outcome of an election is so tiny that the value of a vote (that probability times the value of the difference in outcomes) is probably measured in fractions of a penny. So why do people demand so much in exchange for losing their right to vote? Altruism. They want to show that they are good people. Since I just published an op-ed on this yesterday, I will simply point to it here.

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Huckabee concerns me a great deal, part II

I think that just the rhetoric that someone who opposes government intervention in health care "doesn't care about that kid" is enough to concern me. Doesn't he understand the long term harm caused by more and more government intervention in health care? My own belief is that those who want the government to provide for all these problems are the ones who really aren't effectively caring for others. The increased government intervention means that the health care system will not work as well and that a lot of people's health will be harmed as a result.

former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee accused the Club for Growth of advocating "an economic policy that doesn't care about that kid," a line that highlighted the fundamental problem with Mike Huckabee's "conservatism." Much like the Democratic candidates, Mike Huckabee believes the only way to help an asthmatic child is by increasing the size of government and raising taxes to pay for it. That is how he governed in Arkansas, and that is how he will govern if elected president, his anti-tax pledge notwithstanding.

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New Rules for Learning Names of Concealed Handgun Permit Holders In Ohio

Around "50,000 Swedes own handguns"

Ted Nugent on why people should be able to own guns

My friend Ted Nugent discusses the need for the Second Amendment here.

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Week 3 of Roger's Eagle Project

Well, he finished! These are pictures from the last day of Roger's Eagle Scout project. It went well, but in contrast to the two previous outings we had few people show up. Still it was fun and it was nice to spend some time with Roger while he was finishing up the project.


New Op-ed: Why do we care if people tip a waitress?

Jason Lewis Gives Inspired Commentary on Private Property and Smoking Bans

Jason Lewis commentary on KTLK can be listened to here. The discussion is from yesterday. This segment is an hour long, but it is worth it. Jason's other shows can be found here.

His discussion on the enforcement of smoking bans by relying on neighbors reminded me of a trip to Sweden in 1979. There was a public campaign against people getting drunk and neighbors were asked to turn in neighbors who were getting drunk in their home. I was stunned at the time to see police forceably removing people from their homes based on being informed on by their neighbors, but the Swedes that I was with thought that it was all entirely reasonable because people didn't have the right to harm their own bodies when others had to foot their healthcare bills.

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Some not so close fans of Huckabee

Apparently some people don't think to highly of Huckabee

Even editorialists and columnists at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the state's dominant (and Republican-friendly) daily paper, use words like "petty" and "thin-skinned" to describe Huckabee. Then again, he's compared hard-hitting (and accurate) news reporters for the Democrat-Gazette to the press fabulists Jayson Blair and Janet Cooke. He called liberal columnist John Brummett of Stephens Media "constipated" when that early admirer commenced some gentle criticism. His administration paid $15,000 to settle a suit filed by Roby Brock, the host of a public TV news show whom Huckabee's people tried to force off the air for his critical commentary. . . . .

More important, Huckabee revealed an enduring weakness as glaring as that other Arkansas governor's fondness for women. Huckabee seems to love loot and has a dismissive attitude toward ethics, campaign finance rules and propriety in general. Since that first, failed campaign, the ethical questions have multiplied. . . . .

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No announcement on whether the Supreme Court will Hear the DC gun ban case

So much for Campaign Finance Regulations

Let me get this straight. You can't give soft money directly to political parties, but you can give it to this group being run by close associates of Hillary Clinton and they will give the money they raise to progressive groups that will help her win next year. Boy, I am sure glad that we passed those regulations to close those loopholes.

So what, exactly, is the Fund for America? According to its filing, the group's purpose is "to accept and disburse funds in order to create a lasting progressive majority voice in public affairs." . . .

Fred Wertheimer, a campaign finance advocate who has fought for years to end the use of soft money in political campaigns, said he has strong suspicions about what the group plans to do: "This is the organizing vehicle for the Democrats efforts to inject soft money into the 2008 presidential election." . . . .


Radek Sikorski: shaking up the world

I got to know Radek some when I overlapped being at AEI with him. He is an awesome speaker. When discussing his travels through Afghanistan and fighting the Soviets during the 1980s, I wanted to go sign up and I would guess everyone else in the room felt the same way. This article will give you some rough idea of the type of person Radek is. I will confirm this: Radek will always do what it think is the right thing to do and there is no stronger supporter of freedom.

The people of Poland have spoken. Thankfully, they have dumped Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his xenophobic Law and Justice Party, or PiS, for Donald Tusk. Tusk is the head of the centrist, free-market Civic Platform, or PO. A bone of contention is former Defense Minister Radek Sikorski, now nominated to be Poland's foreign minister, whose appointment Kaczynski has been attempting to block. . . . .



Huckabee Not Exactly Tough on Keeping Taxes Low

There have been a lot of claims that Huckabee was not exactly very tough on keeping taxes low in Arkansas. Well, if you had any doubts about it you should see the video here.

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Relatives running for office a consequence of campaign finance laws?

The United States, however, considers itself to be a more mature democracy. Grover Norquist, one of America’s most influential Republican activists, aims to turn the question of dynasty into a campaign issue.

“It will be ridiculous to have Mr President and Madam President in the White House,” he said. “We’re the United States of America. How can we say to President Mubarak [of Egypt], ‘You can’t hand off the presidency to your son, it’s got to be your wife’ or, ‘Hey Syria and North Korea, you’ve got to knock this stuff off and be like us’.”

Norquist has commissioned lawyers to draw up a constitutional amendment that would ban family members from succeeding one another to elected and appointed office. If passed, it would not apply to the Clintons as a Bush was elected in between them. But Norquist believes that it will alert voters to the perils of dynasty. “Americans don’t like to go back,” he said. . . . .

The notion of relatives holding the same office doesn't bother me by itself, but I think that the problem is related to campaign finance regulations. Just as campaign finance regulations benefit incumbents, they also benefit someone such as Hillary Clinton or George W. Bush because of the publicity that they get from their spouse or father are in office (though this particularly applies to Hillary) as well as the benefits that they have from having the well known name. In my book, Freedomnomics, I discuss how it is that the children of politicians are so likely to follow their parents into politics compared to children in other professions. Here is just a brief part of that discussion:

Because a politician’s reputation can’t be transferred outside his family, a politician’s child who doesn’t go into politics simply loses the benefits of this reputation. It’s not like inheriting a family business, where a son or daughter could sell it off and use the proceeds toward some other line of business. Since going into politics is the only way a politician’s child can exploit his parent’s political reputation, it should come as no surprise that politicians’ children follow their parent’s careers at higher rates than most other professions: about 30 percent of politician’s children follow their parent’s profession, second only to the children of farmers. By contrast, about 15 percent of sons of fathers from all self-employed licensed occupations follow that path themselves.

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We could know by Tuesday Whether the Supreme Court will take up the DC Gun Ban Case

The court apparently made their decision on November 9th regarding granting cert and could announce the decision this coming Tuesday.

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The Mafia's Ten Commandments

The Mafia's Ten Commandments makes a lot of sense to economist. See a brief Fox News segment on it here. I would guess that my friends who do the economics of religion who be able to explain some of these reasons. Here are some of them:

No one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it. (Essentially always having someone vouch for the person being introduced.)
Never look at the wives of friend
Never be seen with cops.
Don't go to pubs or clubs.
Wives must be treated with respect. (I suspect is that they know a lot and you don't want them going to the police.)
You must be available at all times to the Mafia.

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The King of Spain puts Hugo Chavez temporarily in his place

The King of Spain gives Hugo Chavez a tongue lashing here. I would guess that this is something that a lot of people wish they could have done. Spain's Socialist Prime Minister comes across as too gentle on Chavez.

UPDATE: Well, "temporary" was certainly the right term here. Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos has tried to calm things down by saying:

"We want to have good relations with everyone, but always with respect for institutions. If we are not shown respect, we must react," he said.


The 10 highest paid public employees in Iowa work for the Public Universities

While university professors command some of the best salaries in state government, officials say paying those salaries is a good investment.

They argue that medical professors and other faculty members with six-figure salaries earn a premium because of their skills and experience.

In return, their research often brings in money from the federal government and other sources. . . . .

Well, I would feel more comfortable with this claim if these were private universities. Then I at least would be much more convinced that people had the right incentives deciding how much money to pay these guys. It is also interesting that the Federal government subsidies creates such distortions in professor salaries.



International Pressure on Finland to Change Gun Control Laws

It was an easy prediction. The horrible tragedy just a couple of days earlier has already lead to calls for sweeping gun control laws in Finland. The government has already caved into some demands and will raise the age of purchasing a gun to 18 from 15, even though the killer was 18. I guess that the point is that some change needed to be made even if it would have had nothing to do with the tradegy. As far as I can tell, there was no discussion of any costs from raising the age.

The government said Friday it would raise the minimum age for buying guns from 15 to 18, but insisted there was no need for sweeping changes to gun laws shaped by deep-rooted traditions of hunting in the sub-Arctic wilderness.

"If you look at the rate of homicides with firearms (in Finland), the figure is very low," Interior Ministry spokesman Ilkka Salmi said. "People using guns are hunters. They live in rural areas. It's part of the life over there."

According to a government study in 2002, 14 percent of homicides in Finland are gun-related.

International gun control activists have urged the Finns to rethink their laws in the wake of Wednesday's tragedy. . . . . .

The article contains the absurd claim that Finland with 1.6 million guns and 5.2 million people ranks 3rd in civilian gun ownership worldwide. Finland does have a high gun ownership rate, but it isn't third. In any case, possibly it will cause people to realize that other countries own a lot of guns besides the US.



Oops . . . Hillary Caught Planting Questions in Audience

This has not been a good couple of weeks for her campaign. Not only did Clinton plant the questions, but the beginning of her answer made it worse by her claiming that this question was something everyone wanted to ask. If so, why did she plant it?

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s campaign admitted Friday that it planted a global warming question in Newton, Iowa, Tuesday during a town hall meeting to discuss clean energy. . . . .

"After her speech, Clinton accepted questions. But according to Grinnell College student Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff ’10, some of the questions from the audience were planned in advance. 'They were canned,' she said. Before the event began, a Clinton staff member approached Gallo-Chasanoff to ask a specific question after Clinton’s speech. 'One of the senior staffers told me what [to ask],' she said.

"Clinton called on Gallo-Chasanoff after her speech to ask a question: what Clinton would do to stop the effects of global warming. Clinton began her response by noting that young people often pose this question to her before delving into the benefits of her plan.

"But the source of the question was no coincidence — at this event 'they wanted a question from a college student,' Gallo-Chasanoff said." . . . . .

We after saying that it was an unusual event and not something that would happen again, it turns out that the Clinton Campaign had planted a question at another event:

Clinton's Iowa campaign confirmed to Fox News that one of its staff discussed questions with Mitchell before her April 2 event, but denied attempting to plant a pro-Clinton question.

Mo Elliethee, spokesman for Clinton's campaign in Iowa, told Fox that Hayler and Mitchell "had a previous relationship" and that a discussion about Clinton arose out of a normal conversation between two people who knew each other well.

"They had a previous relationship and were talking before the event and the topic of the senator's position on Iraq came up and Geoffrey said he had some questions," Elliethee said. "Chris suggested Geoffrey ask a question."

Mitchell, however, said that he and Hayler did not know each other personally before the event.

"I had no previous relationship with him," said Mitchell. "I knew his name and by name only as some who worked for Sen. Evan Bayh. But we didn't know each other and I had never met him before this event."

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Carolyn McCarthy doesn't know what is in her gun ban legislation

This YouTube video shows Democratic Representative Carolyn McCarthy evading a question on her gun ban legislation until she is finally pinned down and forced to admit that she doesn't know what is in the legislation that she is pushing. This segment from MSNBC is a little old, but it is still amusing.

Thanks to Gus Cotey.


Holman W. Jenkins Jr. on Tipgate

Holman W. Jenkins Jr. at OpinionJournal's Political Diary on "Tipgate Update"

National Public Radio continues to birddog allegations that Hillary Clinton failed to leave a tip after visiting the Toledo Maid-Rite diner in Iowa for breakfast last month. The Clinton campaign responded to yesterday's report by saying it did leave a tip -- $100 on a $157 tab. Also yesterday a Clinton staffer turned up at the diner and handed a $20 bill to Anita Esterday, the waitress who had waited on Mrs. Clinton and mentioned (in passing) to a radio interviewer that she hadn't received a tip.

The plot thickens. She tells NPR that yesterday's staffer said the tip had been included in the credit card payment. However, the credit card receipt, when examined, was apparently bereft of tip. So the staffer then opined the tip must have been left as cash with the expectation the diner crew would divvy it up. Where's the Zapruder film? Her aides were seated at tables around the diner, but Mrs. Clinton was sitting at the counter. Ms. Esterday doubts her colleagues stiffed her for her share of the tip. The restaurant's manager tells AP it may have happened.

As the truth recedes into the region of mist and shadows where many things Clinton reside, another question suggests itself: Wouldn't it have been better for the campaign simply to have said, "If we didn't leave a tip, it surely was an oversight, and we'll rectify it immediately?" What good can possibly come from quibbling with a waitress over such a trivial matter?

But the most cringe-inducing aspect was reporter David Greene, in a scripted dialogue with an NPR host this morning, bathing himself in recrimination for failing to check with the Clinton campaign before running the tip anecdote yesterday in a longer report about how campaigns impact the lives of local folks when they land in town.

Apparently, this is not the first time that Hillary has been accused of stiffing waitresses on tips.

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What "civility and bipartisanship" means

Talk on Saturday to the Fund for American Studies

I will be speaking on Freedomnomics to the Fund for American Studies this Saturday. The talk will be at that Loews Annapolis Hotel in Annapolis, MD at 1 PM.

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Huckabee worries me a great deal

Is Huckabee good on the gun issue? Sure, though I am not always happy with his ability to explain the issue. There is no doubt that he is as strong as anyone on that issue. That said, I would have a very difficult time voting for him in a general election. Among the reasons I would have a hard time is that he supports a nationwide smoking ban, "supports a mandatory cap on global-warming pollution," and "limiting the pay of corporate executives." Huckabee's discussion on health care also worries me.

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Steroids for the brain?

If we are going to ban steroids from sports, when are we going to begin banning treatments that improve people's performance in school? Of course, you might also have to ban caffeine and other drugs. But why is it worse for people to do well in sports by taking steroids than someone to do better on the SATs and thus beating out someone else for a place at a top school?

A rise in healthy people popping pills to boost performance in exams or work, raises long-term ethical and safety concerns about the effects of such treatments, British doctors said on Thursday.

The British Medical Association (BMA) wants a public debate about the risks and benefits of using drugs to improve memory and concentration, sometimes called "cognitive enhancement". . . . .


Finland: "Gun ownership high, violence low"


For everyone who has been avoiding the Sun to protect their skin: Sorry following our advice means that you will die sooner

This Supreme Court Case Could Really Cost the Economy A Lot

This could really create a lot of jobs for lawyers.

A seemingly divided Supreme Court on Wednesday debated whether the judiciary should play a role in arbitration cases, the process used by businesses to sort out tens of thousands of disputes as an alternative to going to court. . . .

Chief Justice John Roberts suggested expanded judicial review is appropriate in this instance, pointing to the fact that the two sides negotiated a contract with court review as one of its provisions. Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia suggested Mattel might be seeking more latitude than the law allows for parties to negotiate expanded judicial review in arbitration cases. The American Arbitration Association says a cornerstone principle of federal law is that arbitrators' awards are final and binding. If parties to a dispute are allowed to engage in expanded judicial review, arbitration will become a prelude to lawsuits instead of a substitute, the association said in court papers. . . . .

But this takes the cake:

The wireless industry says that in the absence of court review, parties may decide they are unwilling to "bet the company" on arbitration. The result would be a decline in the number of disputes sent to arbitration and an added workload for already-overburdened courts. . . .

As Roberts points out, if the companies wanted the option to go to court, they can put that in the arbitrarion agreement. You would need to have some explanation for why companies can't figure out what is in there interest (supposedly though this wouldn't then apply to the wireless industry). Even opening up this question up will raise the risks of using arbitration agreements.


Concealed Handgun Permit holders Stop Armed Robbers in Orlando, Florida

Fred Thompson Answers Questions on Guns for Field and Stream

Thompson has a long list of answers. Here is one on the BATFE:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives should have as its priority its efforts to combat violent crime, violent criminal gangs, and to interdict and disrupt the gun traffickers who supply violent gang members with firearms. While one way to curb illicit gun trafficking is to ensure that legitimate dealers maintain their paperwork in good order, these paperwork violations should in no way be BATFE’s focus. I would also consider giving BATFE a wider range of sanctions so that dealers’ simple paperwork violations do not result in license revocations. Finally, having a politically accountable BATFE Director, who is now subject to Senate confirmation, instead of a career bureaucrat should also help change BATFE’s priorities and make the agency more responsive. . . .

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US Troops Cheating on Medical Tests to Remain Fighting in Iraq

Yes, you read that headline correctly. Our troops are so motivated by the war in Iraq and think that it is so important that they are willing to risk permanent brain injury to stay in the field. These guys are really motivated.

Reports of cheating began surfacing in Iraq during the summer, says Col. Brian Eastridge, a trauma surgeon who supervises medical care in Iraq and Afghanistan from his office in Baghdad.

Troops had obtained copies of an older version of the test and memorized key words used to gauge short-term memory, Jaffee says. Those who fail areas of the test undergo more sophisticated exams for diagnosing brain injury.

If symptoms persist, soldiers are sent home. If symptoms get better in days or a few weeks, patients can be sent back into combat, doctors say. . . . .


Another Multiple Victim Public Shooting in Another Country

Obesity 'fuels cancer in women': Wrongly Scaring People

"Fuels cancer" sounds pretty bad. Surely the claim that just being "overweight" increases the risk of cancer is pretty scary. Back in graduate school one of the many points that I learned from Ed Leamer was there is an important difference between something that is statistically significant and something that is economically significant. The BBC claims that:

About 6,000 middle-aged or older women in the UK develop cancer each year because they are obese or overweight, a Cancer Research UK-funded study says. . . . .

Ironically, there is another study that just came out that claims simply being "overweight" lowers one's chance of getting cancer:

Being 25 pounds overweight doesn’t appear to raise your risk of dying from cancer or heart disease, says a new government study that seems to vindicate Grandma’s claim that a few extra pounds won’t kill you. . . . .

Well, let's just assume for a minute that the first scary claim is correct and also that the cancer is not the result of something that is also causing the women to be fat (e.g., depression may cause both obesity and cancer). According to the BBC article 4.5 million women are between 50 and 64 in the UK and 57 percent of those are obese or overweight. That comes to 2,565,000. Of those women, if we believe these claims, 6,000 will get cancer or any type each year (it would have been nice to know how many of them died from it, but that is another issue). Anyway, that means that 0.23 percent of these overweight or obese women get cancer each year because of their weight. I wouldn't want to be that less than quarter of one percent, but this doesn't sound like something to panic over. While there is no breakdown for the cancers "caused" by overweight, about one-third of cancers generally are said to result in death so that if true for these cancers, it means that .078 percent die. That is less than one tenth of one percent die from cancer.

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Lemuel Calhoon's Review of Freedomnomics

Email on the Death Penalty

I received this email earlier today. While I normally receive a lot of these and I don't usually paste these types of emails (I like to stick to factual arguments), this one particularly got to me.

I just read your article about whether the death penalty is a deterent.
I just want to comment that , to me, it doesn't matter if it's a deterent or not.
The death penalty IS justice ( rightful. fair and deserved punishment ) to the murderer for what was done to the victim (s) and their family. Simple_ as_ that. But.. it also needs to be
implemented, not ignored or postponed.
Our 12 year old daughter was murdered by a man in 1981, who has been on Death Row (Cal.) for 25 years with no execution date in sight. He has free meals, Cable T.V. and better medical care than we do.
Justice, for us, has failed.


University of North Dakota might be forced to remove "Fighting Sioux" Logo

Fate of University of North Dakota 'Fighting Sioux' Logo Threatens Hockey Arena

I would think that the Sioux indians would be proud to have a team referred to as the "Fighting Sioux." Will their be an objection to the Army helicopters having indian names? What is the difference? Why does the NCAA find this objectionable?


Hubris and Carbon Taxes

Greg Mankiw at Harvard takes great pleasure in the fact that surveys around the world show strong support for higher taxes to reduce carbon emissions inorder to control global warming. In some theoretical sense there is justification for this satisfaction, but the real world is a long way from what might work in theory. The basic problem is one of hubris (see my book Freedomnomics for a more complete discussion).

1) It is hard enough to get the direction of effects correct. There is a debate right now over global warming and what share might be attributable to man. Only a tiny fraction of greenhouse gases (may be a percentage point or so) is due to mankind. Of course, there are other causes such as energy output from the sun that we don't control at all. Even if we agree on manmade global warming being significant, there is still the next question of whether there is a net cost from it. Sea levels might possibly go up by a foot or so over the next hundred years, but human disease will decline and there will be more food. Probably even in the worst case scenario, a small effect on global warming has a small effect on net costs.

2) Even if we get the point estimate of the size of the externality correct, there is the problem of assuming that the government will impose the right tax. Having too high of a tax is just as bad as having too small of a tax. Why do we believe that the government will actually pass legislation that has the right tax?

3) We already have high gasoline taxes. How do we know that the level of taxes are not already too high? Possibly we should be lowering the gas tax, not raising it. Taxes on gasoline are very high as it is.

4) What is the cost of getting this wrong? The cost is that we will be poorer, and there are lots of coststo being poorer, included a lower life expectancy.

Mankiw is an advisor to Romney, which makes me worry about him some. Today is a reminder about the Democrats in the Washington Post today.

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Russell Roberts Unable to Respond to the Answer that I gave him?

In a previous post Russell Roberts asked for a single example of a useful instrument in empirical work.

So again, my question to my better-read colleagues in the profession--give me an example of a statistical analysis that relies on instrumental variables, for example, that is done well enough, that is so iron-clad, that it can reverse the prior beliefs of a skeptic. . . . .

I wrote him back:

1) I don't put a huge amount of weight often on instrumental variables, but let me give one example from my own work on giving women the right to vote. The instrument there is whether states voluntarily or were forced to give women the right to vote. We found that both types of states experienced a similar increase in government growth after women were given the right to vote. If it was simply increased liberalism by men that caused both suffrage for women and government growth, you should see that in states that reached a critical mass to voluntarily give women the right to vote, but not in others where states were forced to given them a vote.

After several responses back and forth I wrote Russell that: "The best that I can see in you response to what I wrote is 'So let me try again. Very few econometric analyses persuade skeptics.' You have a similar response on your blog. It does not appear to me that this is a helpful response nor is it very direct. Explain why my responses, particularly the instrument regarding women's voting, doesn't meet your concerns. You asked for an example and I gave you one that used an instrument. I have yet to see one paper challenge the instrument that we used on women's voting, and you provide no logical objection."


Russell asks that I not print his reply.

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A few defensive gun use stories from this week

TV News Report of Armed Self Defense

John Edwards Ad Effectively Smashes Hillary Over Inconsistencies.

Hillary Clinton is shown to be all over the map here.

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Texas Tech Students help push for ending gun free zones on campus

This is a surprise at Texas Tech? Hardly, but it is nice to see even more attention for Students for Concealed Carry. I have lost count how many stories that I have linked to on all this, but it is nice to see them getting as much attention as they did.

Some Texas Tech University students who believe concealed hand guns should be allowed on campus with proper certification are wearing empty holsters this week to protest gun-control policies.

Hoping to raise awareness about the issues surrounding the prohibition of licensed firearm possession on college campuses, students attending approximately 110 college institutions nationwide organized a protest at their respective campuses.

An estimated 6,000 members of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, the national organization of discontented gun owners, will symbolize their plight all week by donning empty holsters.

The group, however, is not advocating just any possession of weapons, he said. It designed the protests specifically to promote licensed and responsible carrying of handguns throughout all parts of campuses. . . . .

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Fred Thompson on Gun-Free Zones

Generally, I thought that Senator Fred Thompson gave a very good interview on Meet the Press this morning, though I was somewhat disappointed with his answer on gun free zones. I get the impression that Thompson believes that individual property owners have the right to decide to use their own property, but I would have liked to see Thompson asked to differentiate public and private universities. I understand and support his desire that people should have the choice what rules to adopt when they own the property, but I would have been nice if he had clearly reiterated what was stated in the quote that Russert read. Possibly Thompson thought the quote was enough, but I would have appreciated something more supportive in this interview.

MR. RUSSERT: And we are back. Senator Fred Thompson is our guest.

Virginia Tech, last April 32 killed, terrible tragedy. You had a radio report back at that time, and I’d like to share it with you and our viewers. “Virginia Tech,” the “administrators overrode Virginia state law and threatened to expel or fire anybody who brings a weapon,” on the “campus. Many other universities have been swayed by an anti-gun, anti-self defense ideology. Whenever I’ve seen one of those ‘Gun-free zone’ signs, especially outside of a school filled with our youngest and most vulnerable citizens, I’ve always wondered exactly who these signs are directed at.”

My sense in reading that is that you would be in favor of licensed citizens of Virginia, students, including students, to carry concealed weapons on a college campus.

MR. THOMPSON: It would have to be consistent with campus rules. I don’t think that all students need to be carrying weapons on the school campus. What I would, I would feel more comfortable with, if a child of mine was on campus, when I read about these people, 30 people or so being lined up and systematically killed without anybody apparently around to do anything about it, I think some, some thought really needs to be given as to who should be properly qualified and permitted and, and armed on campuses and other places where large people gather. But...

MR. RUSSERT: But you would, you would allow a campus to bar their students from carrying concealed weapons?

MR. THOMPSON: Yeah, it, it would have to be consistent with state law and, and, and school rules. And different schools would have, you know, the, the freedom to, to have their own rules as, as, as they see fit. . . . .

The take at the National Review Online was pretty positive:

Having just watched it on the DVR, I thought it was a very, very solid performance. Ground rule double.

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Democrats in Pennsylvania in Trouble?

It looks as if Pennsylvania state politicians used state money to pay legislative aides to work on campaigns. Apparently, both parties are involved, but everything that I read indicates that it is much more of a problem for the Democrats. While the media has shown very little interest in this so far, this scandal may be the one thing that keeps the Democrats from taking complete control of the Pennsylvania state government.

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg obtained a letter from House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese, a Democrat from western Pennsylvania, telling recipients to keep quiet about the "extraordinary" bonuses because not everyone got one.

"I have seen in our internal investigations no evidence that behavior was illegal," DeWeese told The Associated Press. "But that's not for me to decide. That's for the attorney general and his team."

The investigation seems to have everyone in Pennsylvania's State Capitol holding their breath as witnesses are being dragged before the grand jury and both parties in the House have been hit with subpoenas.

In August, investigators seized 20 boxes of records from the House Democratic research office, touching off a separation-of-powers legal battle. On Thursday, a petition by the House Democrats seeking to block access to the records was denied by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. . . . .


Students for Concealed Carry Versus Gun Control Groups on Campus

Still, more of the highly symbolic demonstrations have taken place in towns or cities than on college campuses, and that’s partially an indication of who’s doing the organizing. The protest at UNC, for example, was co-sponsored by the local Million Mom March chapter and North Carolinians Against Gun Violence (NCGV) but no student groups.

At the University of Virginia, though, students organized a lie-in on Oct. 16 that coincided with the six-month anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings. Spangler has also tapped Facebook to try to recruit more organizers in college; her group currently has 218 members, not an insignificant number but far less than that of many advocacy organizations on the site — including Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, which has 7,542 members. . . . .

Well, 218 to 7,542 is progress, though I suspect that we have a ways to go still.

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Stage 2 of Roger's Eagle Project

Today's task was building a path, cleaning up some graffiti, and putting up a sign for the park. The work wasn't anywhere near as physically demanding as last week, but it was fun. There were probably 8 young scouts. They were at it from 9 AM to 3 PM.



The Muslim World's Dr. Phil: The Secret of a Good Marriage, Beat Your Wife

The expert, Al-Arifi, has such useful advice as not beating the wife on places where the beating can show. Apparently, this is a widely watched expert in many countries in the Middle East.



Anonymous Reporting System for Reporting Bias at William & Mary

Political Correctness out of control:

A new system at the College that allows members of the community to anonymously report incidents of bias has come under fire, primarily from conservative news sites and blogs.

The Bias Reporting System was created several weeks ago by the College Diversity Committee and exists “to assist members of the William and Mary community who have been affected by incidents involving bias related to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or other protected conditions.”

Sam Sadler, vice president for student affairs and co-chair of the Bias Reporting Team, said that “showing a willingness to look at issues is the best way I know to let people know that the community cares. I think it’s really the ultimate statement of community.”

Critics worry that the system is open to abuse because it allows anonymous reports. A full-page ad in The Flat Hat last week, paid for by FreeAmericasAlmaMater.org, brings up the possibility that students could make up allegations to get back at professors who gave them a bad grade or significant others who had broken up with them. . . . .

My son Maxim wrote this story up.


What is behind the push for Driver Licenses for Illegals?

John Fund makes it pretty clear what is happening:

Sen. Hillary Clinton was asked during a debate this week if she supported New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. At first she seemed to endorse the idea, then claimed, "I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it."

The next day she took a firmer stand (sort of) by offering general support for Gov. Spitzer's approach, but adding that she hadn't studied his specific plan. She should, and so should the rest of us. It stops just short of being an engraved invitation for people to commit voter fraud.

The background here is the National Voter Registration Act, commonly known as "Motor Voter," that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993. It required all states to offer voter registration to anyone getting a driver's license. One simply fills out a form and checks a box stating he is a citizen; he is then registered and in most states does not have to show any ID to vote. . . . .

The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms has its own take on this here.


What if Hillary's Campaign Implodes?

Hillary has had a relatively easy race so far. The other Democrats have treated her very gingerly. It has almost been as if they were afraid to anger her or possibly even running for the VP nomination. The debates have also protected her from answering tough questions, at least until this past debate. The problem that the Democrats face is that it is too late for anyone new to really enter the race with the possible exception of Al Gore. I have always felt that the Democratic field has been pretty weak. O'Bama is not a strong candidate. His talks and answers to questions are extremely wordy and not very forceful. Edwards is probably too damaged to win the nomination. So what is left after that? Not much. Will Dems rally around Hillary because she is still the best candidate in the race? Will they quickly try to push her out and get Gore to run? Hillary's negatives were already at 49 percent. Her move now to seek protection in being a woman must be a real problem for many.

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Another Review of Freedomnomics

That is why I salute John Lott's Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don't (Regnery, 2007), a voice of reason in a swamp of interventionist megalomania that threatens to push the land of the free down the road of the late Roman Empire.

Freedomnomics, translating economics into regular English, shows that bureaucratic and judicial attempts to correct the market restore feudalism and hurt the poor. Corporate scandals that lower a firm's reputation create disincentives to cheat and thus become part of a self-correcting market mechanism. Lott also discerns the true link between legalized abortion and crime: In opposition to the best-selling book Freakonomics, he shows that easy access to abortion leads to change in attitudes to premarital sex, more out-of-wedlock children, family breakdown, and thus to more crime. . . . .

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THE Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively halted U.S. executions via lethal injection until it can rule on a challenge to the constitutionality of a particu lar execution "cocktail."

This is just the latest example of the whittling away of the death penalty - the courts have already cut executions by over a third since 1999. But this latest suspension of executions is likely to demonstrate yet again that the death penalty deters crime. . . . .

Some comments are coming in on this piece. See this by Art DeVany, Clayton Cramer, Free Republic, and Prairie Pundit.

I got this email from someone who read my piece.

First, I accuse Mr. Lott of no less than intellectual dishonesty with regards to some of the statistics he uses. To begin, the sentence "while African-Americans have committed 53 percent of all murders since 1980 in which the killer's race is known, they have accounted for only 38 percent of the executions." While at first glance, this seems to indicate that racial bias is non-existent in death penalty cases, one must remember that murder in itself, while necessary, is not sufficient for the death penalty to be handed down. Thus, the total number of murders is not a measure of the number of cases being considered for the death penalty. In fact, because the circumstances involved are relied upon almost exclusively (ie. the victim, prior history, etc.) when deciding whether or not to hand down the death penalty, simply citing these numbers does not tell the whole story in the least. . . . the author conveniently forgets that not every state has the death penalty. For instance, Michigan, New York (from 1978-94, well within the time that this statistic draws from), Massachusetts, as well as the District of Columbia do not currently execute anyone. These states (and district) all have some of the highest black populations in the country. . . .

The problem is that the gap between blacks and their share of executions and murders has gotten larger over time. This was originally in the op-ed, but got cut for space constraints. (The numbers before 1980 are pretty meaningless because even when an execution took place, there was only one execution a year.)

Further, your piece misses the point in its entirety. It is deceitful to say that the Court "effectively halted U.S. executions via lethal injection," because it does not tell the whole story. I'm sure you know that the issue at hand is whether the lethal injection itself constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment" . . .

There are two points. 1) The point of the piece was to address some of the general arguments that have been presented agains the death penalty. 2) There are so many issues that one can get into in 700 words. I figured most people know this claim you point to and can judge for themselves whether lethal injection is so cruel.

This is simply a temporary stop-gap measure designed to ensure that the constitution is not trampled. This case currently before the Supreme Court does not aim to question the constitutionality of the death penalty itself.

Does the moratorium increase the chances that the death penalty through lethal injection will be ended? If lethal injection is found to be "cruel," would hanging or a firing squad be cruel? In any case, does it then lower the cost of criminals committing murder?

Thus, not only is this piece intellectually dishonest, but the most extreme instance of a "jack story" that I can imagine. . . .

Thanks for you thoughtful comments. But I must confess that I don't know what "jack story" means.

A further discussion of these issues can be found in my book, Freedomnomics.

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An Analysis of Concealed Permit Holders in Tennessee

WBIR TV in Knoxville, Tennessee has a detailed discussion of permit holders' characteristics. It shows a county by county breakdown of the 177,881 permit holders in the state. They find that while permit holders tend to be white males living in the suburbs, "there was no clear pattern" with income.

The actual TV report can be seen here. One county apparently had 11 percent of people with permits. The survey that they are referring to about the US having the highest gun ownership rate in the world is wrong. The study paid for by George Soros confused total guns with gun ownership rate.

Thanks to SayUncle and Clint Kritzer.

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The Brady Campaign gets some examples of bad uses of guns wrong

The Brady Campaign will sometime float examples of people using concealed handguns improperly. It involves only a small number of examples. Howard Nemerov took some time to look throughf the Brady Campaign examples and shows how they get some of even the few they point to wrong.


Roberts and Hanson Rounds II and III

Unfortunately, Russell Roberts seems unwilling to respond to my previous comments on his postings on empirical work. If he wants to talk about the weaknesses of empirical work, be specific. If he wants to talk about empirical work free from political biases, have the guts to point to specific examples where this bias exists and say how he would do it differently. What is this work missing. He cites Ed Leamer (a former professor of mine), but he ignores that the work that he does discuss does follow Leamer's recommendations. So then what would Roberts do differently?

No Roberts tries to impose the obiligation on those who might know the empirical literature better.

Robin is taking my observation about pragmatism and applying it to handguns. I didn't mean to. I brought up pragmatism in order to highlight the general dangers of excessive faith in reason. Assuming that econometric analysis always trumps an anecdote is an example of the potential dangers of econometric analysis. Yes, relying on anecdotes is lousy science. But lousy econometrics is lousy science, too. What my podcast with Ayres made me realize is that lousy econometrics may be the norm rather than the exception.

Such cynicism can come cheap. It also seems to leave us with anecdotes. Well, there's also common sense, intuition and general lessons gleaned from experience and empirical work that is less prone to manipulation.

So again, my question to my better-read colleagues in the profession--give me an example of a statistical analysis that relies on instrumental variables, for example, that is done well enough, that is so iron-clad, that it can reverse the prior beliefs of a skeptic.

OK, let me give Russell a response. These points and other similar ones are in my book Freedomnomics. The second point below is also in More Guns, Less Crime. I realize that Russell hasn't had time to read either book, but before he comments more on these types of empirical work, he might benefit from reading them.

1) I don't put a huge amount of weight often on instrumental variables, but let me give one example from my own work on giving women the right to vote. The instrument there is whether states voluntarily or were forced to give women the right to vote. We found that both types of states experienced a similar increase in government growth after women were given the right to vote. If it was simply increased liberalism by men that caused both suffrage for women and government growth, you should see that in states that reached a critical mass to voluntarily give women the right to vote, but not in others where states were forced to given them a vote.

2) Regarding correlation and causation that is precisely why some research try to provide many qualitatively different empirical tests. For example, with right-to-carry laws: 1) violent crime falls, 2) the size of the drop increases over time the longer the law is in effect because more permits are issued, 3) there are differences between violent crimes where a criminal comes in contact with a victim who might be able to defend herself and a property crime where there is no contact (violent crimes fall relative to property crimes), 4) there are differences between different types of violent crimes (e.g., between murder generally and multiple victim public shootings because the probability that someone will be able to defend themselves with multiple victim public shootings is much higher than the case where there is only one or two victims present), 5) a comparison between adjacent counties on opposite sides of a state border, and 6) differential benefits across different types of victims.

Russell, try to come up with an alternative explanation for these different findings.

As a general comment, I am disappointed how vague Roberts' discussion is and how filled it is with platitudes.

Finally, Robin Hanson summarizes where Russell might be coming out on all this: "Russ finally answers as I'd originally expected: he relies on simpler clearer data and theory. " I think that there is a lot of regression and empirical work that uses very simple approaches (see the above reference to women voting or I would even argue many issues involving concealed handguns such as permit holders being extremely law-abiding and not posing a risk by themselves), So Russell, what do you have to say to that? In addition, Russell, I don't think that Ayres conceded anything to you on Friedman's Monetary History.

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Christmas gift ideas for little ones

Inspired by Sonya Jones' recommendations for Christmas gifts for children, I thought that I would offer my own suggestion. If you want something that fundamentally questions what government should and shouldn't do, I recommend Dr Seuss's little known "Thidwick the Big-hearted Moose." It is an amazing book where poor Thidwick lets a couple of animals take up residence in his antlers and then start ordering him around through majority voting. Poor Thidwick goes along with the majority decision making to his peril. In typical Dr. Seuss style this book is perfect for young children 4 to 8 years old, but I think that even much older kids can benefit.


Backlash by Women Because They Feel People have been Attacking Hillary?

Shades of Rick Lazio's campaign all over again? I guess that I thought that women think that Hillary was tougher than this.

The criticisms followed Penn’s assertion that Clinton was “unflappable.” He also said criticisms from Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) would backfire and that he was already “detecting some backlash,” particularly among female voters.

I am not sure that Obama or Edwards would have had a chance with these voters in the first place.

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Mascot Violence in College Sports: A Growing Problem?

The Chronicle of Higher Education asks where Mascot Violence is increasing in college sports. The Oregon Duck here has a vicious attack on a Houston Cougar.


Fox News' Greg Gutfeld is pretty funny

Greg Gutfeld is really quite funny. For one example of his zaniness see this here.