Senator Chuck Schumer: President Gets No More Appointments to Supreme Court


Vote Fraud in Washington State

John Fund, in today's Political Diary, explains that at least someone is trying to clean up vote fraud issues in Washington State:

"Washington State became a poster child for the most mishandled election in the country in 2004, when its photo-finish governor's race required three recounts before Democrat Christine Gregoire was declared the winner over Republican Dino Rossi by 139 votes. The election was rife with irregularities, including felons illegally voting, absentee ballots mishandled and new ballots constantly being "discovered" during the process.

Since then, the Democratic legislature and Ms. Gregoire have only made matters worse by expanding the vote-by-mail balloting that was at the heart of many of the 2004 election problems. But yesterday voters in Washington State were reminded why it might be a better idea to tighten up their election laws. King County (Seattle) election officials were forced to remove 1,762 voter registrations from the rolls, finding they had been fraudulently submitted by employees of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). ACORN employees, it turned out, had gone to a local library and filled out bogus registration forms with names from the phonebook.

At the same, the King County prosecutor announced criminal charges against seven ACORN employees for vote fraud. He also announced that ACORN had signed a settlement agreeing to establish certain internal controls in exchange for the organization not being prosecuted. The move highlights the need for ACORN's dubious registration activities in other states to be scrutinized.

In a separate move, Washington State's Supreme Court voted 6 to 3 that a suit brought by several felons who were seeking to have their voting rights restored on equal protection grounds was invalid and that Washington's felon disenfranchisement laws were constitutional."

The Seattle Times has more details on Labor Unions (ACORN) finally get into trouble in Washington State for vote fraud:
Workers accused of concocting the biggest voter-registration-fraud scheme in state history said they were under pressure from the community-organizing group that hired them to sign up more voters, according to charging papers filed Thursday.

To boost their output, the defendants allegedly went to the downtown Seattle Public Library, where they filled out voter-registration forms using names they made up or found in phone books, newspapers and baby-naming books.

One defendant "said it was hard work making up all those cards," and another "said he would often sit at home, smoke marijuana and fill out cards," according to a probable-cause statement written by King County sheriff's Detective Christopher Johnson.

Prosecutors in King and Pierce counties filed felony charges Thursday against seven employees of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, claiming they turned in more than 1,800 phony voter-registration forms, including an estimated 55 in Pierce County. . . . .

At least for now, not all felons can vote in Washington State.

The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that felons who haven't paid their fines and court costs aren't entitled to vote. But for 16 months they could, and now the state has no way of knowing how many might be on the rolls or how to keep them from casting ballots.

As of now, the only felons the state can accurately track — and keep off the voter rolls — are those still in custody of the Department of Corrections, according to Assistant Secretary of State Steve Excell.

"That's the only rock-solid list that we know we can implement now in the short term," he said. "We have no way of finding the felons that are voting today." . . . .


Even Canadians Think that Extra Taxes on "Unhealthy" Foods are a Bad Idea

It is not even clear to me that there is either an externality or mistakes being made. If people are properly anticipating the risk, imposing the tax actually means that they will be eating "too little" of these "bad" foods. The problem is undoubtedly caused because the insurance premium doesn't vary with the risks that people take, but the most direct solution is to make them pay for their health care. I have two problems with the tax. 1) Not all individuals are likely to be equally affected by these unhealthy foods. 2) Even if everyone was about equally affected, how likely is it that the government would pick the right tax and not one that were "too high." On the other hand, it is much easier to know what the cost of the medical services are. Having a tax that is "too high" is just as bad as not having the right level of a tax.

Many adults in Canada oppose implementing extra taxes on specific foods in order to reduce both consumer demand and health problems, according to a poll by Angus Reid Strategies. 50 per cent of respondents think the proposal is a bad idea, while 43 per cent consider it a good idea. . . . .

Labels: ,

More on Freedomnomics from a talk I gave at the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce

John Lott, professor of economics at the University of Maryland and author of Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don’t, says he believes the 19th Amendment in 1920 that gave women the right to vote led directly to the growth in the size of the U.S. government.

At an Arizona Chamber presentation Tuesday, Lott said the rate of increase in government (as measured by percent of GDP) in the decades following 1920 tracks perfectly with the increasing voter turnout among women during the same time period. He said women tend to favor more government programs than do men, and the change in attitudes toward the proper role of government correlates exactly with the increased involvement of women in the political process. Other of his conclusions/observations included:

• The legalization of abortion in 1973 resulted in an increase in the crime rate, especially in the murder rate. Lott’s reasoning here is that whereas before Roe v Wade, women would adopt out their children born out-of-wedlock, after 1973, the numbers of women carrying their babies to term increased. Among those who chose not to abort, many instead chose to raise their child alone in a single-parent household, which, he says, studies have shown are less nurturing than two-parent households. He said the lack of quality parenting leads directly to lower grades, higher dropout rates, more delinquency and ultimately increased crime and murder rates. . . . .

Here is a discussion of my research in German.

Labels: ,

Criminal shot by victim: "I can't feel my legs and I got what I deserved."

EL DORADO, Ark. — An elderly man beaten unconscious by an assailant wielding a soda can later awoke and shot the man during an attempted robbery, police said.

Willie Lee Hill, 93, told police he saw the robber while in his bedroom Wednesday night. Hill confronted Douglas B. Williams Jr., 24, of El Dorado, who struck the elderly man at least 50 times, knocking him out, police said.

Hill, covered in blood from the attack, regained consciousness and pulled a .38-caliber handgun on Williams. Williams saw the gun and charged Hill, who fired one round, police said. The bullet struck Williams in the throat.

When police arrived, officers said Williams told them, "I can't feel my legs and I got what I deserved." . . . .

Thanks very much to Robert Aldridge for point this story out to me.

Labels: ,

New Op-ed in National Review Online on Defending Property Rights

Another Review of Freedomnomics

barbarindian writes that this is: "A must read for free market believers.."


John Palmer at the University of Western Ontario Begins Reviewing Freedomnomics

Bogus study claims medical costs are related to bankruptcy

I had heard about this claim, but I had no idea how bad the research was. This claim has been used to push for socialized medicine.

The study's central findings were that 54½ percent of all bankruptcies have a "medical cause" and 46.2 percent of all bankruptcies have a "major medical cause." . . . . the study classifies uncontrolled gambling, drug or alcohol addiction, and the birth or adoption of a child as "a medical cause." . . . . A father who has gambled away his family's mortgage payment is not the victim of crushing medical bills. Similarly, new parents who find they can no longer afford their previous lifestyle now that one of them has to stay home with the baby will usually find the obstetrician's bill the least of their problems. Babies are a financial hardship even when hospitals give them away free. . . . The authors also classified bankruptcies as having a "major medical cause" if the debtors had more than $1,000 in accumulated, out-of-pocket medical expenses (uncovered by insurance) over the course of the two years prior to the bankruptcy, even if the debtors did not cite illness or injury as among the reasons for their bankruptcy.


Army veteran stops carjacking

Movement to end tradition of keeping military weapons in homes in Switzerland shows strong support


Now this is cruel and inhuman criminal punishment

I can't wait until the courts review the prison policies discussed here.

The article deals with the clothing worn by women visiting male prisoners. There obvious concern involves the behavior of the prisoners around these visitors. On the other hand, one thing that isn't mentioned is that the more that male prisoners anticipate visiting from outsiders, the more of a penalty it is for them to have that perk taken away from them. There might be more problems during visitation, but there might be fewer problems at other times.

Labels: ,

Another Review of Freedomnomics

A critical review of my book by Max Sawicky can be found here. I have put up a couple of responses on his blog. As I write in my comment on his blog, I didn't expect us to agree on everything, but I really do appreciate him taking the time to write the review.

Labels: ,

New Op-ed: Driving the Lemon Myth Off the Lot

Here is a new piece that I have up at Fox News:

If you have ever thought of buying a new car, you are undoubtedly familiar with the claim that as soon as you drive the new car off the showroom floor its price falls dramatically. Recent popular books have asserted that simply driving a new car off the lot reduces the price by 25 percent.

Many economists explain this drop as occurring because the people who are trying to resell their cars quickly are typically doing so to get rid of “lemons.” Even if your virtually new car isn’t a lemon, people who want to buy your car can’t be sure, so they aren’t willing to pay as much as your virtually new non-lemon car is really worth. It is the classic story of “market failure.”

Nice story—except it’s wrong. In fact, the widespread perception that a new car loses substantial value as soon as a buyer drives it off the lot is really just a myth, as we shall see.. . .

Labels: ,

General George S Patton Speaks out on Iraq & modern world

Sonya Jones points to a great update to General George Patton's famous speach here. This is worth watching.


Specter causing trouble for future nominees

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) plans to review the Senate testimony of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito to determine if their reversal of several long-standing opinions conflicts with promises they made to senators to win confirmation.

Specter, who championed their confirmation, said Tuesday he will personally re-examine the testimony to see if their actions in court match what they told the Senate.

"There are things he has said, and I want to see how well he has complied with it," Specter said, singling out Roberts.

The Specter inquiry poses a potential political problem for the GOP and future nominees because Democrats are increasingly complaining that the Supreme Court moved quicker and more dramatically than advertised to overturn or chip away at prior decisions. . . . .



The WSJ Nails New York Governor Eliot Spitzer

When Eliot Spitzer as the New York Attorney General he was known as having weak legal cases when he went after companies, but that he uses the reputational damage that he can try inflicting on them to blackmail them into settling. The damage often seemed to occur from well timed and placed information leaks. Apparently, Spitzer was caught using the same tactic against one of his political opponents. Given this was Spitzer's standard tactic for years, the vast majority of the press coverage that Spitzer is getting is very disappointing.

The media are doing their best Claude Rains act over the revelation that the office of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer orchestrated a smear campaign against State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. But far from being a unique, out of character event, the episode is a classic example of the Spitzer political method: nasty and exaggerated accusations fed by selective, politically motivated news leaks. The difference is that this time his targets could fight back.

On Monday, the office of Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo released a 54-page report on Mr. Bruno's use of state helicopters, allegedly for personal political purposes. The investigation had been prompted by the Governor's office after Mr. Spitzer's communications aide and hatchet man, Darren Dopp, saw to it that allegations of impropriety against Mr. Bruno had found their way into the hands of gullible, pliant reporters. . . . .

Labels: ,

Gary Galles reviews Freedomnomics


How altruism differs by country

Here is an interesting story by Reader's Digest on the rate that lost cell phones are returned in different cities around the world. The results by city can be found here. Someone should try to explain the differences by country.



Even Democrats Respond to Tax Incentives

Robb, the wife of former Virginia governor and U.S. senator Charles Robb, drew appreciative laughs when she spoke of her mother's frugality. "She wanted to hold on until 2010, so we wouldn't have to pay any estate taxes," Robb said. "Oh, durn!"

There are actually some economics studies that find that when a tax change is occurring in inheritance taxes people appear to live a couple weeks longer to take advantage of the lower take rates.



Who gets to decide if you get treatment under national health care

iPods for addicts while others go without treatment. That said, it is an interesting test to see if incentives work.

DRUG addicts are to be offered gift vouchers and prizes on the National Health Service under plans by the government’s medicine watchdog to encourage them to stay clean.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) will recommend the system of inducements, which could enable clinics to offer televisions and iPods as prizes, to tackle the burgeoning drugs problem. But patients denied drugs for blindness, Alzheimer’s and lung cancer under Nice rationing are likely to accuse it of wasting public money.

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said: “Why should these people with self-inflicted problems be given priority over people who have a genuine illness? Some people with genuine disease are being forced to sell their homes for the medicines they need.” . . . .

Labels: ,

Political Theater: Disappearing votes in the US Senate

Well I guess that it never happened.

WASHINGTON — A brawl over presidential pardons punctured the normally courtly ambiance of the Senate on Thursday night, but Republicans and Democrats agreed to bury the hatchet and erase the evidence before the sun rose Friday. . . .

Democrats retaliated with their own partisan salvo, the Libby pardon resolution.

"Regrettably, if you are going to shoot this way, we have to shoot that way," Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., said as he brought up the "sense of the Senate" measure.

What followed was a scene more commonly witnessed on the other side of the Capitol in the more raucous House. As senators hooted and brayed amid calls of "Regular order!", Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. pointedly noted that it's against Senate rules to call an amendment politically motivated.

After Salazar's amendment failed, Republicans took their turn, offering a nonbinding resolution deploring the actions of Bill Clinton for issuing pardons to the likes of his half brother Roger, and clemency for members of a Puerto Rican nationalist group blamed for bombings in the 1970s and 1980s.

"If the Senate has decided to go into debating the appropriateness of future pardons, there is plenty of material to go around on past pardons," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader.

Before that could happen, though, the two leaders cut a deal to defuse the tension. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. said his side would take back their Libby amendment — including zapping the vote from the record — if McConnell took back his Clinton swipe. . . . .