Even amphetamines banned from baseball. Is coffee next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labels: , ,

California Senate Passes "Microstamping" Gun Bill

The bill passed the California Senate 22-18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another story reports that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thomas Sowell on crime

Lawsuits Coming over Blackberry addiction?

Sarbanes-Oxley might get Al Gore

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

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


Weird court decisions

Requiring some direct evidence of a crime would be nice.

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Don Kates for sending me this link.

Daily Kos compares Terrorists to Americans in the American Revolutionary War

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

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

Thanks to James for sending this to me.


New Research that Abortion Increases Violent Crime Gets Attention

From today's Chicago Sun Times:

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

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

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

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

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

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

More unwed mothers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labels: , , , ,


Lynn Swan Rocks

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

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

You can donate to him here.

Tribune-Democrat: Ed Rendell is after your guns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ariel Rubinstein Reviews Freakonomics

Why are people unhappy with the economy?

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

The economy 39 Approve 57 Disapprove

KS: "Gun permits prove popular"

Podhoretz says warnings of coming electoral disaster for Republicans overblown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michigan with more than 120,000 permits


Democrats attacks on Lieberman are getting funnier and funnier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Research on Vote Fraud and Voter Participation Rates

This is some new research that I have recently completed.

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

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


UN Double Standard on Israel

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