Jumping to conclusions on Porn and crime

Glenn Reynolds thinks that the fact that rapes have fallen since the late 1970s shows that pornagraphy at least does not increase rape rates.

"So while I won't go so far as to argue that porn actually prevents rape, it seems clear that the claims of some people — including a commission headed by former Attorney General Ed Meese back in the 1980s — that pornography promotes rape are, at best, overstated. I suspect, though, that anti-pornography crusaders are unlikely to heed this lesson."

It is very difficult (actually almost impossible) to infer much of anything from one piece of time-series data since so many other factors can be changing over time. For example, may be as women are more willing to report rapes, the costs of committing rapes has gone up, thus reducing the number of rapes. (This is the National Crime Victimization survey data that tries to get around the problem of figuring out rapes that are not reported to police.) The aging population also seems like a possible factor. In general though it seems like pornography was easier to find in the 1960s and 1970s than Reynolds seems to remember, but, in any case, if there were big geographic differences in the availability of porn, we should be able to track where rapes rates started falling first. I have no idea of what one would find, but Reynolds claim is very weak.

Thanks to Don Kates for alerting me to this post.

Update: Clayton Cramer has some useful points on this too. Clayton also points out that Reynolds didn't properly read the article that he was reading from and that the data started in 1979. The first year that the data could have shown a drop in rape was thus 1980.


The New Sounds of War

From the Strategy Page:

precision firepower, which has replaced the large scale, massive firepower tactics that dominated the 20th century. For most people, American smart bombs, like JDAM and laser guided bombs, represent "precision firepower." But the concept goes much farther than that. American infantry carry automatic weapons, but most of the time they fire one precise shot at a time. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the locals quickly get to know when American troops are fighting in the area. They are the ones firing single shots. The other guys, be they Taliban or Sunni Arabs, fire their AK-47s on full auto. But it's the sparser American firepower that dominates. Better training, and high tech sights, make the U.S. troops very accurate. Snipers are much more in evidence, with up to ten percent of American troops qualified for this kind of shooting.

U.S. artillery units have been using a GPS guided MLRS rocket for over a year. This 227mm weapon delivers a 200 pound warhead as accurately as a 500 pound JDAM. When it comes to bombs, smaller and more accurate is what the infantry prefer. That's because, once the bomb goes off, the grunts want to get in there and capture or kill the survivors before the shell shock wears off. American cannon (155mm) artillery units are eagerly awaiting the arrival of GPS equipped "Excalibur" smart shells later this year. Infantry commanders are particularly keen to have this hundred pound shell available, as it allows troops to be as close as "across the street" from the target.

This produces another unique battlefield sound portrait. You know American troops are at work when one shell goes off, followed by a few shots. No shouting, American troops use individual radios, hand signals and night vision equipment. They move fast, using minimal firepower. Less risk of friendly fire, or collateral damage (civilian casualties or property damage.) Battlefields have never sounded like this. . . . .

Thanks to Don Kates for pointing this out.


Whoopi Goldberg conservative on guns

Whoopi Goldberg likes guns and the death penalty. You might not agree with her on much else, but this was interesting and it would have been nice to have had her give her explanations.

Super foods for better brain function

Quotes for the upcoming UN Conference on Gun Regulation

Thanks to Dan GIfford (some of these were listed in previous posts):

"The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise they will win and the decent people will lose."

James Earl Jones
U.N. wants global ban on guns
By Gina Parker
June 21, 2006

"I think that eventually Americans will realize that their obsession with arming themselves in fear, in a paranoid belief that they’re going to be able to stave off the ills of the world through owning guns, through turning every house into an arsenal, eventually Americans will go away from that."

Rebecca Peters
International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA)
U.N. wants global ban on guns
June 21, 2006

"Uncontrolled proliferation of guns and other weapons also fuels human rights abuses and escalates conflicts ... It doesn't have to be like this."

(Amnesty's Control Arms Campaign believes a global Arms Trade Treaty is the solution. -- story text)

Amnesty International
June 30, 2006
UN Push for Global Gun Control Viewed As Insult to USA

"Guns do not kill people. Bullets do ... the global bullet trade is out of control, fuelling conflict and human rights abuses. Also a new international survey from the Control Arms Campaign reveals that almost one in three people surveyed in six different countries have been affected by gun crime."

Oxfam International
Oxfam is a group of non-governmental organizations from three continents
working worldwide to fight poverty
June 20, 2006
Illegal arms and UN reform

"Arms supply chains are becoming increasingly sub-contracted and completely out of control. They are talking about curbing brokering but they haven't even got round to transport."

Brian Wood
Amnesty International's arms expert
June 20, 2006
Illegal arms and UN reform

"The global arms trade is dangerously unregulated, and allows weapons to reach repressive governments, human rights abusers and criminals. To address these concerns, three global organizations have joined together to launch an international campaign in over sixty countries, to reduce arms proliferation and misuse, and to introduce an international Arms Trade Treaty."

Oxfam International
Oxfam is a group of non-governmental organizations from three continents
working worldwide to fight poverty ...
June 20, 2006
Control Arms

"The United States believes that the responsible use of firearms is a legitimate aspect of national life."

John Bolton
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
June 30, 2006
UN Push for Global Gun Control Viewed As Insult to USA

"Had it not been for our tradition of private firearms ownership, our citizens might still be subjects of the queen. Had it not been for America, all of Europe might be speaking German. Were America not the 'great arsenal of democracy' that President Franklin D. Roosevelt described in 1940, the world would be a far different place, and the sanctimonious bureaucrats at the U.N. might instead be working in labor camps."

Alan Gottlieb
Founder of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF)
June 30, 2006
UN Push for Global Gun Control Viewed As Insult to USA

"We have done much for the U.N., and in return, the organization has hosted despots, tyrants and dictators whose record of human rights abuses, aggression and genocide speaks for itself. And now comes an attack on our Constitution, on our national holiday. America has always
answered the call to help our international friends and neighbors, but when our very way of life is attacked, maybe it is time to find more worthy endeavors for our material and financial support."

Alan Gottlieb
Founder of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF)
June 30, 2006
UN Push for Global Gun Control Viewed As Insult to USA

"The growing trend of gun clubs on college campuses represents 'absolutely no problem' to one of America's top gun control groups. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Handgun Violence, students who form such clubs will forever be a 'passionate minority.'"

Alison Espach
CNSNews.com Correspondent
June 22, 2006
Brady Campaign Dismisses Influence of College Gun Clubs

"I think that [the Brady Campaign's] prediction is demonstrably wrong. I'll continue to believe that until they explain to me why in recent years Democratic candidates have deliberately backed away from supporting the Brady position on gun control [which is] notoriously advising their candidates not to open their mouths on the gun issue because it has resulted in the defeat of a whole lot of left wing candidates."

Morton C. Blackwell
President of the Leadership Institute of the Campus Leadership Program
(CLP). It affiliates itself with conservative organizations such as Gun
Owners of America (GOA) and recruits paid field representatives to
identify and train conservative students to form clubs.
June 22, 2006
Brady Campaign Dismisses Influence of College Gun Clubs

"Who will save the children? Who will save them from guns? the Washington-based Children's Defense Fund issued a report saying in part that the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 'The number of children and teens killed by gun violence in 2003 alone exceeds the number of American fighting men and women killed in hostile action in Iraq from 2003 to April 2006 ... In 2003, 56 preschoolers were killed by firearms. In the same year, 52 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty ... The number of children and teens in America killed by guns in 2003 would fill 113 public school classrooms of 25 students each.' So who will save the children? Who will save them from guns?"

Dwight Lewis
Columnist, The Tennessean
June 22, 2006
Guns keep on robbing America of her young

"One Year After Kelo: New Reports Document Skyrocketing Eminent Domain Abuse"

in just the past year, more than 5,700 properties nationwide have been threatened by or taken with eminent domain for private development—a figure that compares with more than 10,000 examples over a five-year period preceding the Kelo argument, according to one of five reports released today by the Institute for Justice . . . . 25 states (out of the 45 that had legislative sessions this year) enacted legislation aimed at curbing the abuse of eminent domain.

It is amazing that you could have this 2.5 fold growth despite these new legal restrictions at the state level. One wonders what the rate of growth was in the states that didn't adopt legal restrictions relative to the ones that did. Of course there is the possibility that the taking cases are being rush through before legal restrictions are being imposed.

"Hundreds of WMDs Found in Iraq"

So I suppose that this means that the Democrats have lied when they claimed that Bush lied. I have always thought that those accusing Bush of lying were deliberately distorting what the word "lie" means, so I guess that means that they were always lying, but by their definition of "lying" it must be obvious that they were lying.

The United States has found 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003, and more weapons of mass destruction are likely to be uncovered, two Republican lawmakers said Wednesday.

Here is a video that is very interesting. Sadam's claim that all weapons were destroyed was "a lie." The administration has sat on this information because it apparently doesn't want to have this debate over again. I don't have a clue what the administration is thinking on all this. Here they have the evidence that shows that the WMDs were there and they fight about releasing even a small portion of that evidence.

Update: Here is the Democrat's response:

Democrats downplayed the intelligence report, saying that a lengthy 2005 report from the top U.S. weapons inspector contemplated that such munitions would be found. A defense official told FOX News that the weapons probably can't be used in their current form because of their age, but the report notes that they are still hazardous and possibly lethal to coalition forces.

This report contains all the response need: "but the report notes that they are still hazardous and possibly lethal to coalition forces."

Some discussion leading up to next week's UN Gun Control Conferemce

I am not sure how this proves gun control is good. The countries included in this survey have strict gun control.

Three in 10 people questioned in a six-nation survey have been the victim of gun crime or know someone who has been in the last five years, gun control campaigners said on Monday.

The survey of about 1,000 people in each of Brazil, Britain, Canada, Guatemala, India and South Africa found widespread support for tighter international restrictions on trade in firearms, the Control Arms campaign said in a statement.

Control Arms is a joint initiative by human rights group Amnesty International, charity Oxfam International and the International Action Network on Small Arms, made up of hundreds of groups from around the world seeking tighter gun controls. . . .

For more on the UN gun control push see: "UN Push for Global Gun Control Viewed as Insult to USA" and "NRA unloads on U.N.".

In a very unusual action, the UN claims that it doesn't want to take guns away from people:
Americans mistakenly worried the United Nations is plotting to take away their guns on July 4 -- U.S. Independence Day -- are flooding the world body with angry letters and postcards, the chairman of a U.N. conference on the illegal small arms trade said on Wednesday.

"I myself have received over 100,000 letters from the U.S. public, criticizing me personally, saying, 'You are having this conference on the 4th of July, you are not going to get our guns on that day,"' said Prasad Kariyawasam, Sri Lanka's U.N. ambassador.

For those pushing the gun control see: BBC on the push ("need") for international regulaiton and Reuters for a similar set of claims.

Translating Amazon.com ratings into book sales


"Cars" gets a high rating.

"Cars" is a very good movie, and, as Joni Ogle wrote me, it is "cute." I don't think that I liked it as much as "The Incredibles" (that movie's extolling the virtues of being talented was just too good), but "Cars" has basically a good message and is done in a nice way. When you think about it, cars are pretty politically incorrect, especially race cars. I was a little concerned that there were so many possible politically correct environmental messages that could have been put in the picture, but thankfully I didn't notice anything. The movie also had lots of nice touches (the Cadillac shaped mountains behind the town, the pin striping on the Porche's rear end, the way that the trophy was pushed out towards the winner of the last race, and on and on). Any movie that makes young kids have a positive view of race cars has to be rated by me as good.


Bizarre exercise video

Kennedy ensures that the Clean Water Act will mean a lot of work for lawyers

So much for judges trying to establish clean clear rules. If both sides on the Supreme Court's decision on the Clean Water Act agree on anything, it is that there will be a lot more litigation. The Pacific Legal Foundation at least did win the case that was before the court (though Jonathan Adler warns that this victory might be very short-lived.). From the Washington Post:

In yesterday's ruling, a five-justice majority agreed that the Army Corps of Engineers, the lead federal agency on wetlands regulation, exceeded its authority when it denied two Michigan developers permits to build on wetlands. The court said the Corps had gone beyond the Clean Water Act by making landowners obtain permits to dump rocks and dirt not only in marshes directly next to lakes and rivers but also in areas linked to larger bodies of water only through a network of ditches and drains.

But there was no clear majority as to where the Corps should have drawn the line, with a four-justice plurality made up of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. arguing for an across-the-board reduction in the Corps' regulatory role but Kennedy rejecting that view and calling for a case-by-case approach.

The net effect of the most important Clean Water Act case to reach the court in recent years was thus neither the outright rollback of federal wetlands regulation that property rights advocates have long sought nor the reaffirmation of the Clean Water Act that environmental organizations had desired.

Getting rid of the electoral college?: Proponents aren't thinking very clearly

Some states are moving to get rid of the electoral college. The idea is to have each state's electoral votes determined by the winner of the national popular vote. Of the six states that are going to be voting on these initiatives California, New York and Illinois are Democratic states and Colorado, Missouri and Louisiana generally Republican in presidential elections. Obviously this represents more Democratic electoral votes than Republican ones. Democrats might think that this will encourage people to campaign in California and New York, but if you campaign in Florida, you get two returns: increase the probability of carrying Florida plus increasing the probability that you will get California's and New York's electoral votes. As more states adopt these rules, it will make it more similar to the popular vote determining the outcome of the election. But if only a few states adopt the rules, they will make those states largely irrelevant. Suppose that California was the only state to adopt the rule? There would then be clearly less of a reason to campaign in California than there is now.

It is my understanding that some states who are voting on this have a provision that it won't go into effect until states with a majority of electoral votes have adopted this, but at first glance it appears that even with some states requiring a majority of the electoral votes go this way, there would still be a bigger return to campaign in the states where you would get both electoral votes and popular votes.


Jumps in Logic on Global Warming

It is very disappointing to see so many people assume that if there is global warming, that the conclusion is that we should do something about it. Even if global warming is significantly man-made (not something do to changes in energy output from the sum), it is not clear that we should want to stop it. The theories of global warming indicate that the warming involves raising low temperatures, not increasing high temperatures. Growing seasons will increase, meaning for food. How can warmer winters be so bad? Here is the survey results:

From what you know about global climate change or global warming, which one of the following statements comes closest to your opinion?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jun. 2006 . . .Jul. 1999

Global climate change has been
established as a serious problem and
immediate action is necessary . . . . . .29% . . . 23%

There is enough evidence that climate change is
taking place and some
action should be taken . . . . . . . . . . .30% . . . 28%

We don’t know enough about global climate
change, and more research is necessary before we
take any actions .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28% . . . 32%

Concern about global climate change is unwarranted
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9% . . . 11%

Not sure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 4% . . . 6%

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American Hunters and Shooters Association, revisited

I have gotten several inquiries about a posting that I had last year on an organization set up on guns by Democrats. THe information that I had posted on the American Hunters and Shooters Association can be found here. I am not sure why there is this sudden interest, but please feel free to look at these old posts.


Some Spending Earmarks Detailed

The question to me is: why should the Federal government be doing most of what it is doing? If localities like pools, great. Let them pay for it. If they want an athelitic facility, great. Let them pay for it. The problem isn't just earmarks, it is the problem with massive ranges of Federal spending. It was no different for government spending on police or even responsiveness to local disasters. The benefits of most of these expenditures are easily obtained the state effected. Given that there is no reason that the costs couldn't be also.

1,500 new earmarks at a cost of some $900 million.

They include $500,000 for a scenic trail in Monterey, California; $1.5 million for the William Faulkner Museum in Oxford, Mississippi; $500,000 for a swimming pool in Columbus, Ohio; and $500,000 for an athletic facility in Yucaipa, California. Several of these projects, including the athletic facility, have been promoted by Bill Lowery's lobbying firm--the very firm in the middle of the Jerry Lewis probe.

On Wednesday Jeff Flake of Arizona and other Members offered amendments to strip the earmarks, but they lost those floor votes by a wide margin. Our favorite: a $500,000 earmark for renovating a swimming pool in Banning, California. The same pool had already received a $250,000 earmark in each of the previous two years. Mr. Flake's floor proposal to strike the swimming hole subsidy got all of 61 votes. . . . .