8/31/2008

Obama "bounce" short lived

Sarah Palin's nomination seems to have eliminated any Obama bounce even before the Republican convention takes place.

On the eve of the Republican convention, a new national poll suggests the race for the White House remains dead even.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Sunday night shows the Obama-Biden ticket leading the McCain-Palin ticket by one point, 49 percent to 48 percent, a statistical dead heat.

The survey was conducted Friday through Sunday, after both the conclusion of the Democratic convention and McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.

A previous CNN poll, taken just one week earlier, suggested the race between Sens. McCain, R-Arizona, and Obama, D-Illinois, was tied at 47 percent each.

“The convention — and particularly Obama's speech — seems to be well-received. And the selection of Sarah Palin as the GOP running mate, also seems to be well-received. So why is the race still a virtual tie? Probably because the two events created equal and opposite bounces — assuming that either one created a bounce at all,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. . . .


A Zogby poll shows McCain up by two points over Obama in a two person match up. It also shows him down by two points if Bob Barr and Nader are added in. Apparently Barr is taking a lot more votes from McCain and Nader is taking from Obama.

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Sun in dormant stage, implications for earth's temperatures

The analysis can be found here:

While sunspots are often cited as the main proxy indicator of solar activity, there is another indicator which I view as equally (if not more) important. The Average Planetary Magnetic index (Ap), the strength of which ties into Svensmark’s cosmic ray theory modulating Earth’s cloud cover. A weaker Ap would mean less cosmic rays are deflected by the solar magnetic field, and so the theory goes, more cosmic rays provide more seed nuclei for clouds in Earth’’s atmosphere. More clouds mean a greater albedo and less terrestrial solar radiation, which translates to lower temperatures.

I’ve always likened a sunspot to what happens with a rubber band on a toy balsa wood plane. You keep twisting the propeller beyond the normal tightness to get that extra second of thrust and you see the rubber band start to pop out knots. Those knots are like sunspots bursting out of twisted magnetic field lines.

The Babcock model says that the differential rotation of the Sun (the sun being a viscous fluid, the poles rotate at a slower rate than the equator) winds up the magnetic fields of it’s layers during a solar cycle. The magnetic fields will then eventually tangle up to such a degree that they will eventually cause a magnetic break down and the fields will have to struggle to reorganize themselves by bursting up from the surface layers of the Sun. This will cause magnetic North-South pair boundaries (spots) in the photosphere trapping gaseous material that will cool slightly. Thus, when we see sunspots, we are seeing these areas of magnetic field breakdown. . . .

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My interview on Mark Levin's show regarding Barack Obama, the person and his views on guns and other issues

Those interested can hear the interview here. It was very nice of Mark to have me on the show to talk about what I knew about Obama.

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How Sarah Palin's Mom Learned that Her Daughter was About to be McCain's VP Nominee

The UK Daily Mail has this story:

‘Cellphones don’t work out there, so we would have missed all the fun, but when we got near the cabin, the creek was swollen from heavy rain. We couldn’t get through, so we turned around and headed home.

‘Around 4am, Sarah’s husband Todd called and said, “Turn the radio on.”

‘I was half-asleep and said, “Honey, is everything OK? Is Sarah all right?

I turned on CNN and saw that John McCain was about to announce his running mate.

It still didn’t click. Sarah didn’t breathe a word of this to me or anyone in the family.

‘Our phone rang again and it was Sarah. She said, “Mum, are you sitting down? Now, Ma, don’t get all stressed, but McCain is about to announce I’m his vice-president pick.”

‘I started shaking and didn’t say anything. She said, “Ma, are you OK? Please, is this OK with you and Dad?”

‘I shouted into the phone, “Yes, yes! Go for it!” I nearly fell off the sofa. I have not stopped smiling since.’ . . .

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Here I thought Mexico had very strict gun control laws?: Mexicans protest high murder rate

Foxnews has this story:

MEXICO CITY — Hundreds of thousands of frustrated Mexicans, many carrying pictures of kidnapped loved ones, marched across the country Saturday to demand government action against a relentless tide of killings, abductions and shootouts.

The mass candlelight protests were a challenge to the government of President Felipe Calderon, who has made fighting crime a priority and deployed more than 25,000 soldiers and federal police to wrest territory from powerful drug cartels.

Cries of "enough" and "long live Mexico" rose up from sea of white-clad demonstrators filling Mexico City's enormous Zocalo square. The protesters held candles twinkling in the darkness as they sang the national anthem before dispersing. . . .

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Former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Fowler Laughing at How God Must Like the Dems because Hurricane Hitting New Orleans on Monday


If a Republican were recorded saying that "everything is cool" about a hurricane hitting New Orleans, he would get in a lot of trouble.

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8/30/2008

Some Dems try to take offensive on some gun rights

I think that the NRA would be more successful if they said that Obama had a long history of supporting bans on gun ownership.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., and Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., spoke at a National Wildlife Federation briefing Wednesday afternoon, pushing efforts to expand conservation areas for hunting and fishing grounds as well as better protection of the environment for sportsmen. . . .

"With Sen. Obama you have a lifetime record of supporting gun control, voting for gun control, speaking out against gun rights and voting against gun rights either as an elected official or a private citizen," said Andrew Arulanandam, an NRA spokesman. . . .

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Access to illegal guns in Britain

The UK's Guardian reports:

The gun shown here, a Webley, is up for sale in London for £150, one of hundreds of such weapons that are easily and cheaply available on the streets of the UK's big cities, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

The variety of weapons on offer in Britain is extensive and includes machine guns and shotguns, as well as pistols and converted replicas. A source close to the trade in illegal weapons contacted by the Guardian listed a menu of firearms that are available on the streets of the capital.

"You can get a clean [unused] 9mm automatic for £1,500, a Glock for a couple of grand and you can even make an order for a couple of MAC-10s," he said. "Or you can get a little sawn-off for £150. They're easy enough to get hold of. You'll find one in any poverty area, every estate in London, and it's even easier in Manchester, where there are areas where the police don't go.

"People who use shotguns tend to be lower down the pecking order. There is less use of sawn-off or full length shotguns, and if a criminal wants street cred, he wants a self-loading pistol, a MAC-10 or an Uzi submachine gun." . . .

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Some YouTube Clips of Governor Sarah Palin

An interview with Glenn Beck
An assortment of clips

Her talk when her selection was announced by McCain

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8/29/2008

New Op-ed at the Washington Times: Obama's gun ban rhetoric: For it before being against it, now no longer for it

The entire piece can be read here:

Sen. Barack Obama's campaign just won't let the gun issue rest. Mr. Obama and his campaign surrogates continue to assure gun owners that he is on their side, and it appears to be paying off. John McCain only leads Mr. Obama among hunters by 14 percentage points, just about half the 27-point lead that President Bush held over John Kerry in 2004. If Mr. McCain had a similar lead, he would be ahead in most polls, particularly in many battle ground states.

Yet, despite all the Democratic claims to the contrary, Mr. Obama is undoubtedly the most anti-gun candidate ever nominated by a major party for president.

A couple of weeks ago, Brian Schweitzer, Montana Democratic governor, told national reporters that Mr. Obama "Ain't ever going to take your gun away." An Obama adviser, Stanford Law Professor Larry Lessig, said recently on Hugh Hewitt's national radio show that "I think that he has always been an individual rights person on the Second Amendment." Another advisor, Professor Cass Sunstein at Harvard, told Time Magazine in June: "Obama has always expressed a belief that the Second Amendment guarantees a private right to bear arms." The list goes on. . . .

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Polls show little bounce from Obama's Acceptance Speech

This must be one of the smallest poll bounces from a nominee's acceptance speech in modern times. The Gallup poll from Wednesday night showed Obama ahead by 6 points. The Gallup poll from Thursday night shows Obama up by 8 points -- just a two percentage point increase. The Rasmussen poll shows a slightly larger 4 percent point increase.

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John Fund: "Democrats and the Non-secret Ballot"

John Fund has this up at the WSJ's Political Diary:

". . . the Obama campaign was seriously considering letting delegates vote by secret ballot, the better to avoid intimidation and fear of reprisal from local party bosses. But the plan -- which was pushed on the Obama camp by supporters of Hillary Clinton -- was suddenly dropped when it was realized that a key plank of the Democratic Party platform backs a so-called "card check" provision being added to the nation's labor laws. Card check would effectively strip workers of the protection of secret ballots in union elections. Business groups and former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern oppose the measure on the grounds that it exposes workers to harassment and intimidation.

That was precisely the concern of Democratic delegates who wanted to cast a secret ballot vote on the convention floor. The Obama campaign thought seriously about accommodating them until it realized how such a naked contradiction to the party's stance on union balloting might look to voters and the media."

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CNN: "Dems say Palin could be a 'disaster'"


This is a nice measured response from the Dems.

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Palin is an awesome pick for VP

I wrote back in June that Palin was my choice!

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"Which Serenity character are you?"

I almost never take these types of quizzes, but I was a fan of the series.

You are Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
























Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
100%
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
80%
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
60%
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
50%
River (Stowaway)
45%
Inara Serra (Companion)
40%
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
25%
Alliance
25%
Wash (Ship Pilot)
20%
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
20%
A Reaver (Cannibal)
0%
Honest and a defender of the innocent.
You sometimes make mistakes in judgment
but you are generally good and
would protect your crew from harm.


Click here to take the "Which Serenity character are you?" quiz...

8/28/2008

Economic Growth Rates over the last few years


Keep in mind that the average growth rate for the economy over the last few decades is around 2.4 percent. Looking over this whole period, the growth rate doesn't look that unusual to me.

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Viewership of Democratic Convention


Well, if young people are going to make the difference this fall, you sure couldn't tell it from the rates that they are watching the convention. The rate that 18 to 34 year olds are watching the convention is a third of the rate that those over age 55 are watching.

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I should hope that the cops would stop this person from cutting the bike lock

I would think that the "profiling" here involved the person cutting the bike lock.

Campus police at Harvard University are under scrutiny, as the Ivy League school this week launched a review of the department amid allegations of possible racial profiling of students and professors. . . .

"The review will include consideration of HUPD's diversity training, community outreach and recruitment efforts, as well as the ways in which Harvard's past experience as well as best practices elsewhere can help inform our future practice," Faust said.

The statement referenced an incident that occurred earlier this month in which police confronted a person using tools to remove a lock from a locked bicycle.

"It was later established that the person was working on the Harvard campus for the summer, owned the bicycle and was trying to cut the lock because the key had broken off in that lock," Faust wrote.

According to the Boston Globe, that person was a young black man.

An unnamed source told the Harvard Crimson, "The conversation between the individual and the officers was laced with obscenities." That source told the paper that the officers have allegedly been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. . . .

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Karl Rove takes apart Obama's Resume

The Weekly Standard article is here:

Saturday, Mr. Biden asserted Mr. Obama "made his mark literally from day one, reaching across the aisle to pass legislation to secure the world's deadliest weapons," a claim similar to one Mr. Obama made earlier in the campaign. Wednesday night, Mr. Biden was more expansive, claiming Mr. Obama was a leader "to pass a law that helps keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists." This implied a big, important controversial measure, passed with difficulty after the intervention of an extraordinary leader.

In reality, the Lugar-Obama Bill was passed on a voice vote on December 11, 2006. It was so routine, there was no recorded vote. The media didn't consider it important or controversial. Neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post reported its Senate passage, though the Post ran a 798-word op-ed by Senators Lugar and Obama the week before it was approved. It was not the subject of a story on the CBS, ABC or NBC evening news--not when it passed, not when it was signed, not ever. No story about it appeared in Roll Call or The Hill, the daily newspapers that cover the minutiae of Congress. It drew only one squib in Congressional Quarterly--and that story didn't mention Obama, just Lugar. The Bush administration supported it. The legislation required the administration to report to Congress within 180 days "on proliferation and interdiction assistance" to secure the mostly conventional weapons stocks littering the nations born from the collapsed Soviet empire. It created a new State Department office to support the Bush administration's "Proliferation Security Initiative" aimed at interdicting weapons of mass destruction and conventional weaponry. And the bill authorized $110 million in funding. But this legislation didn't require a profile in courage to co-sponsor or hard work and powerful persuasion to pass, as Mr. Biden implied. . . .

Saturday, Biden proclaimed: "But I was proudest, I was proudest, when I watched him spontaneously focus the attention of the nation on the shameful neglect of America's wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Hospital." The problem for Mr. Biden (and the object of his praise, Mr. Obama) is the problems at Walter Reed were revealed in articles in the Washington Post, starting February 18, 2007. Unless Mr. Obama writes for the Washington Post under the nom de media of Anne Hull or Dana Priest, he didn't "spontaneously focus the attention of the nation." The two reporters did. The legislation to correct the shortcomings emerged from a Senate committee Mr. Obama doesn't serve on and he played no significant role in drafting or pushing it through the legislative. Mr. Obama is not the real hero of the Walter Reed turn-around, despite Mr. Biden's extravagant claims. . . .

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Listen to Milt Rosenberg's interview of Stanley Kurtz about the links between Obama and Bill Ayers

A podcast of this interview with the bizarre response that it generated from Obama supporters is worth listening to.

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What does Karl Rove know that we don't know?

Why is Rove fighting so hard at the last moment to get Lieberman removed from consideration as VP and Romney included?

Republican strategist Karl Rove called Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) late last week and urged him to contact John McCain to withdraw his name from vice presidential consideration, according to three sources familiar with the conversation.

Lieberman dismissed the request, these sources agreed.

Lieberman “laughed at the suggestion and certainly did not call [McCain] on it,” said one source familiar with the details.

“Rove called Lieberman,” recounted a second source. “Lieberman told him he would not make that call.”

Rove did not immediately respond to a request for comment. . . .

His decision to wade into the vice presidential selection process could provide Democrats fresh ammunition to tie McCain to the polarizing Bush.

It is also chafing some Lieberman allies and others wary of the selection of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“Rove is pushing Romney so aggressively some folks are beginning to wonder what's going on,” grumbled one veteran Republican strategist.

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8/27/2008

A strong case for why Sarbanes-Oxley should be found unconstitutional

Sarbanes-Oxley was found constitutional by a 2-to-1 decision in the DC Appeals Court. Hopefully the Supreme Court will take the case. The NY Sun has an excellent article on the Appeals Court decision here.

The question posed by the case, Free Enterprise Fund and Beckstead and Watts, LLP v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board et al., had nothing to do with whether the auditing requirements and increased criminal liability and penalties of Sarbanes-Oxley have hurt our public companies, and, by extension, every American with a stock portfolio or a pension plan. The issue is whether Sarbanes-Oxley's creation of an agency to police auditors of public companies violated the doctrine of separated powers.

The chief constitutional problem with the law is that the five board members at this new agency — the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board of the suit's caption — aren't appointed by the president. Nor can the president fire them. Instead the commissioners of the Securities and Exchange Commission, who are presidential appointees, get to do the hiring and firing for the new Oversight Board. And the firing can only be for cause.

The result is a regulatory agency whose top officials — unlike those in the SEC, Justice Department, and Treasury Department — are well insulated from the elected leader of the executive branch. It's as though Congress wanted to add to the judicial, legislative, and executive branches, a new independent branch of government: the auditors. . . .

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8/26/2008

This is too funny: Study finds eating eggs cuts Cholesterol

From Fox News:

Researchers from Surrey University in England have found that eating two eggs a day could help you lose weight and lower your cholesterol levels, London’s Daily Mail reported Tuesday.

Medical experts have long thought that by eating large amounts of cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs, a person could easily increase their cholesterol levels.

However, an upcoming article in the European Journal of Nutrition will suggest otherwise. . . .

Griffin thought that by eating eggs for breakfast, the volunteers felt fuller longer, which aided them in their weight loss efforts.

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Data on Colleges from ACT and SAT test scores to Professors' salaries

A lot of detailed data is available from Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Missed predictions

It is time to fess up and admit that I have gotten at least two predictions wrong this year. 1) When things were looking bleak for Hillary Clinton in March, I predicted that she would still win the nomination. 2) I predicted that if Obama won the nomination, he would pick Bill Richardson as his VP.

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8/25/2008

Racial animus in Denver: "Obama Mentor called be 'Uncle Tom'"

Fox News has this today:

Racial infighting among Democrats, which marred the presidential primaries, has flared up again at the party’s convention in Denver, where a black Hillary Clinton delegate is accusing a black Barack Obama delegate of calling her an “Uncle Tom.” . . .

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Scott Adams Explains the benefit of economists

Scott Adams, the creator of Dibert, has this interesting defense of what economists do:

If a weather expert tells you what the weather will be on a specific day next year, you can safely ignore him. If he tells you a hurricane is heading your way, it's a good idea to get out of the way, even if the storm ends up turning. That's playing the odds.

Likewise, if an economist tries to tell you where the stock market will be in a year, you can safely ignore that. But if he tells you a gas tax holiday is an unambiguously bad idea, that's worth listening to, especially if economists on both sides of the aisle agree.

If you think it is okay to ignore economists because they are so often wrong, you're looking at the wrong questions. Economists are generally wrong with complicated models but right about concepts. For example, they know that additional domestic drilling won't make much of a dent in the energy problem. And they know that free trade is generally good for all economies. (You can argue with my examples, but the point is that some things are generally known by economists while not being understood by the general public.)

By analogy, a mechanic knows that changing your oil is good for your engine, but he can't tell you what problems you will have with your car next year. You shouldn't ignore the mechanic's advice on changing oil just because he doesn't know when your battery will die, or because he didn't personally perform any scientific studies on oil changes.

Doctors are often wrong, but you are still better off going to the doctor than diagnosing problems yourself. And when you get the opinions of several doctors, your odds improve, even if those several doctors aren't a scientific sample. The important thing is that following a doctor's advice, or the consensus of several doctors, increases your odds compared to the alternative. And the more doctors the better.

Some of you noted that the candidates have top economists on their payrolls, so voters can be assured any president is getting good advice. But realistically, an economist involved in a political process has to support the candidate's ideas or he's off the team. At best, one of the candidates obviously has bad economists advising him because they disagree with the other guy's economists. . . .


Thanks to Tom P for this link.

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Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland bashes media for pro-Obama bias

What is going on here? Haven't these Democratic governors gotten the memo about party unity? First it was Rendell having to be silenced because he wouldn't stop his complaints about media bias, now it is Ted Strickland:

At a dinner with Washington Post reporters and editors, Strickland called the coverage "almost shocking at times" and unfair it the treatment of both candidate Clinton and her husband, the former president.

"Quite frankly, some of the people that I had most previously admired as commentators I have a remarkably different opinion toward right now," Strickland said.

Strickland was the second big-state governor and Clinton supporter to sound off about the press at the convention. On Sunday, at a panel hosted by Harvard's Shorenstein Center, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell called coverage of Barack Obama's campaign "embarrassing"

"He is running for the most important office in the world," Rendell said. "He basically got a free pass." Rendell also described MSNBC derisively as "the official network of the Obama campaign."

Strickland was one of Clinton's strongest supporters and helped her carry the Ohio primary in March. In his critique, he did not single out any commentators by name. But he was sharply critical of the treatment Clinton got at two debates just before the Ohio primary, noting that she was repeatedly asked questions first, giving Obama the benefit of being able to shape his answer in response to hers. . . .

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John Fund on why Biden was picked as VP

John Fund at the WSJ's Political Diary has this point:

CNN's Jessica Yellin revealed over the weekend that Mr. Obama's key aides "think the press loves Biden and so the press will sort of go easy on him on the past gaffes and when he's contradicted Obama."

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8/24/2008

Governor Ed Rendell Attacks Media Over Bias for Obama

The Politico has this amazing discussion. What makes it more amazing is the way the "big-time media figures" tried to force him to stop talking. Here is a former head of the Democratic Party, a politician as liberal as any major political figure, and governor of Pennsylvania who was upset about the media being biased against Clinton and for Obama and he is treated as some loony uncle.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell was supposed to give “closing remarks” during this afternoon’s Shorenstein Center-sponsored panel discussion with all three Sunday show moderators — NBC’s Tom Brokaw, ABC’s George Stephanopoulous and CBS’s Bob Schieffer — but instead, he opened up a can of worms about bias in 2008 election coverage

"Ladies and gentleman, the coverage of Barack Obama was embarrassing," said Rendell, in the ballroom at Denver's Brown Palace Hotel. "It was embarrassing."

Rendell, an ardent Hillary Rodham Clinton supporter during the primaries, now backs Obama in the general election. Brokaw and Rendell began debating campaign coverage, including the on-air comments by Lee Cowan, and when MSNBC came up, Rendell went after the cable network.

“MSNBC was the official network of the Obama campaign," Rendell said, who called their coverage "absolutely embarrassing."

Chris Matthews, Rendell said, "loses his impartiality when he talks about the Clintons.”

At that point, PBS's Judy Woodruff, who was moderating the moderators event, said: "Why don’t we let Governor Rendell sit down."

That was met with applause from the crowd of big-time media figures, which included Arianna Huffington, Gwen Ifill, Al Hunt, and Chuck Todd.

Woodruff allowed Brokaw to respond, and in defending the network, he said that Matthews and Keith Olbermann are "not the only voices" on MSNBC.


John Fund at the WSJ's Political Diary has this slightly different take on this:

Mr. Rendell, a Hillary Clinton backer, came to bury the Big Three, not to praise them. He told the crowd of 300 political luminaries that the media's coverage of the Democratic primaries had elevated personalities over substance and he complained of sexism in its treatment of Senator Clinton. He called the media's kid-gloves handling of Barack Obama "absolutely embarrassing," and suggested that the media had essentially given the presumptive Democratic nominee, whom he now supports, "a free pass." Journalists, he said, had allowed themselves unprofessionally to be "caught up with emotion and excitement" in the historic nature of the Obama candidacy. He even called MSNBC "the official network of Obama's campaign."

Tom Brokaw jumped to his network's defense, saying he and others had expressed dissatisfaction with on-air comments by NBC reporters like Lee Cowan. He also agreed that MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews had "gone over the line" at times in comments about Mrs. Clinton but emphasized they were "commentators" and not reporters.

Mr. Rendell wasn't mollified. "Chris Matthews loses his impartiality when he talks about the Clintons," he told the audience. At that point, moderator Judy Woodruff moved to wind up the proceedings before they could become even more heated.

Many in the audience were surprised at the extent to which Mr. Rendell was still carrying a torch for Hillary Clinton and criticizing media coverage of Barack Obama. "I thought he was a Democrat," one person next to me commented. "Here, he is a Hillarista first," her companion commented. "Her campaign for the next presidential election begins at this convention."

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2008 Olympics: US record for number of medals

Would anyone know from listening to the news coverage that the 2008 Olympics represents the best US showing in total medals ever? The only two Olympics where we did better were in 1984 when the USSR and Eastern Europe boycotted and 1904 in St. Louis when almost no other countries participated. How about the fact that we did as well in gold medals as we did in 2004?

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The End of Conservative Talk Radio?

I have been convinced that this issue is at the top of the Democratic agenda. Dick Morris has this discussion on what Obama and the Dems want to do to talk radio:

You know I'm one of the other things we talk about this book the accidental terribly important is the wave that you liberals are going to try to kill. Talk radio. And we just had Nancy Pelosi just endorsed the fairness doctrine. But Obama says. But he's not a fairness doctrine he's forward -- he thinks it's it's a distraction from the real issue which should be diversity. And nobody understood quite what he meant to but I do. We have that we covered in this chapter on talk radio there is a little known provision of the FCC law Federal Communications Commission. That provides that the stations that use the public airwaves must have community representation. On the board of directors and in the station management. And we have memos from the Soros organizations and media matters. That indicate that what they are planning to do is to put liberal on those stations boards. And in this program directory assistance program director and station it's as part of that FCC rule. So it's not just questioned -- talk radio to question hijacking.

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New McCain ad on Obama passing over Hillary


This could have been stronger if the ad had noted not just that Clinton had been passed over, but that it turns out that despite Obama's statements in the past, Clinton was never considered. Possibly, the ad could have even quoted from the headline in the Politico, "Hillary gets stiffed."

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More on Obama hiding his positions on the issues

Lower price on audio version of Freedomnomics

For those interested in the audio version of my book Freedomnomics, they can find it here. I think that the narrator, Brian Emerson, did a very good job on the book.

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U.S Job Satisfaction at one of the highest decades


Strangely the video only looks at the numbers for this decade. Will Bush get credit for this?

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Gun Owners v. Property Rights

Steve Chapman on Florida's law regarding businesses letting guns on their property:

Supporters of the right to keep and bear arms have long recognized the value of firearms for the defense of life, liberty and property. But in Florida, a perverse conception of the 2nd Amendment has produced the opposite effect: The cause of gun rights is being used to attack property rights.

In 1987, Florida wisely affirmed personal freedom by letting law-abiding citizens get permits to carry concealed weapons. But this year, the legislature decided it was not enough to let licensees pack in public places. They also should be allowed to take their guns into private venues -- even if the property owner objects.

The "take your guns to work" law says anyone with a conceal-carry permit has a legal right to keep his gun locked in his car in the company parking lot. Until recently, companies had the authority to make the rules on their own premises. But when it comes to guns, that freedom is defunct.

The National Rifle Association says any corporation that forbids firearms in its parking areas is violating the 2nd Amendment. That may sound like a promising argument, since the Supreme Court recently struck down a Washington, D.C., handgun ban as an infringement on the constitutional guarantee. It's not.

Robert Levy, the Cato Institute lawyer who participated in the successful challenge of the Washington ordinance, says the Florida law "has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment." The Constitution, he notes, is a limit on government power, not a constraint on what private individuals or corporations may do. . . .


While I admire Steve, his discussion is much too simple here. I agree with him that property rights should triumph, whether I agree with the owner's decision or not, but the situation is not as simple as his newest piece indicates. Federal OSHA rules dealing with guns make it extremely difficult for employers to let guns in areas of employment. As it is the Oklahoma law that was similar to the Florida one was struck down in Federal court because of the claim that the Federal rules took precedent. I wouldn't be surprised if Florida law was similarly struck down in the case that has been filed there. The direct solution would be to get rid of the Federal rules (something that Chapman's piece doesn't discuss) and leave the decision completely up to the property owners. The liability issues and the fact that the courts seem treat the risks from the presence of allowed guns differently than the risks from not allowing guns around create more problems. The NRA argument is wrong, but they are only arguing this because of their desire to get around the Federal OSHA rules and trying not to lose another case in court.

UPDATE: I have been advised that the judge in Florida upheld the Florida law. However, this does not change the general point being made here. Thanks to Marion P. Hammer for the note. She sent me the following:

They [the Florida Chamber of Commerce and The Florida Retail Federation] argued that the law requiring businesses to allow guns in vehicles in their parking lots constituted an unconstitutional "taking" of their property. In court, the federal judge ruled against them – THEY LOST.

They argued that OSHA regulations require them to provide a safe work environment for their workers, which required them to bans guns in parking lots to comply with OSHA requirements. In court, the federal judge ruled against them – THEY LOST.

They argued that, as employers, they had an absolute right to control the conduct of their employees and could ban guns from employee vehicles in company parking lots while employees were at work. In court, the federal judge ruled against them – THEY LOST.

Those are the three points argued by the Chamber and the Retail Federation. THEY LOST ON ALL THREE POINTS..

At the hearing and in his ruling, the judge complained about language drafted by the legislature saying that it doesn't give businesses clear guidance on whether the laws allows business owners to ban customers from having guns in their cars in parking lots. Rather that clear up the confusion according to the intent of the legislature, he ruled that businesses can prohibit customers from keeping guns in their in the parking lot.

CURRENT STATUS:

The judge upheld the new NRA-supported law.

If a business has a gun ban policy, employees who possess a valid Concealed Weapons License are exempt from the gun ban policy and cannot be fired for exercising their gun rights.

If a business has a gun ban policy and no employee has a valid CW license, then that business can also ban customers from having guns locked in their vehicles in the parking lot while they shop or conduct business.

A business may not search vehicles to see if a person has a firearm; may not ask if a person has a firearm in the vehicle; may not ask if a person has a CW license.

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8/23/2008

New Op-ed at Fox News: Obama's Running Mate Biden Has Rare Political Trait: Decency

This is the beginning of my newest piece:

Decency is rare in life, but it seems even rarer in politics where so much often is at stake. As government has grown and more is at stake, the niceties that make life civil have become expendable.



I have always been struck by the decency of Senator Joe Biden, Barack Obama's Vice Presidential nominee. But there is one memory that I particularly recall when I think of him.



Back in late May 2001, when the Senate was evenly divided with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, every vote counted in trying to pass President Bush's tax bill. Senator James Jeffords hadn't yet officially become an independent. Democrats were putting up amendment after amendment to try to defeat the tax bill, and the debate was lasting late into the evening.



Senator Joseph Biden noticed that 98-year-old Republican Senator Strom Thurmond was looking quite ill. But Thurmond couldn't leave because the Republicans needed his vote. Biden, seeing the predicament, offered a solution. He offered to "pair" his votes with Thurmond. Biden promised not to vote while Thurmond left the floor so that the passage of amendments would remain unchanged. It was the decent thing to do.

. . .



The piece goes on to discuss how Obama could learn something from Biden on how to deal with people.

UPDATE: Here is an alternative viewpoint from David Greenberg at Slate:

The sheer number and extent of Biden's fibs, distortions, and plagiarisms struck many observers at the time as worrisome, to say the least. While a media feeding frenzy (a term popularized in the 1988 campaign) always creates an unseemly air of hysteria, Biden deserved the scrutiny he received. Quitting the race was the right thing to do. . . .

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Some whoppers of exaggerations by Biden

On Biden exaggerating his record from SanDiego.com:

Most of Mr. Biden's statement was in response to a report in this week's issue of Newsweek magazine on a tape recording made by the C-SPAN network of an appearance by Mr. Biden at a home in Claremont, N.H., on April 3. It was a typical coffee-klatch style appearance before a small group. The network regularly records and broadcasts such events as part of its coverage of the Presidential campaign.

The tape, which was made available by C-SPAN in response to a reporter's request, showed a testy exchange in response to a question about his law school record from a man identified only as ''Frank.'' Mr. Biden looked at his questioner and said: ''I think I have a much higher I.Q. than you do.''

He then went on to say that he ''went to law school on a full academic scholarship - the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship,'' Mr. Biden said. He also said that he ''ended up in the top half'' of his class and won a prize in an international moot court competition. In college, Mr. Biden said in the appearance, he was ''the outstanding student in the political science department'' and ''graduated with three degrees from college.'' Comments on Assertions

In his statement today, Mr. Biden, who attended the Syracuse College of Law and graduated 76th in a class of 85, acknowledged: ''I did not graduate in the top half of my class at law school and my recollection of this was inacurate.''

As for receiving three degrees, Mr. Biden said: ''I graduated from the University of Delaware with a double major in history and political science. My reference to degrees at the Claremont event was intended to refer to these majors - I said 'three' and should have said 'two.' '' Mr. Biden received a single B.A. in history and political science.

''With regard to my being the outstanding student in the political science department,'' the statement went on. ''My name was put up for that award by David Ingersoll, who is still at the University of Delaware.''

In the Sunday interview, Mr. Biden said of his claim that he went to school on full academic scholarship: ''My recollection is - and I'd have to confirm this - but I don't recall paying any money to go to law school.'' Newsweek said Mr. Biden had gone to Syracuse ''on half scholarship based on financial need.'' Says He Also Received Grant

In his statement today, Mr. Biden did not directly dispute this, but said he received a scholarship from the Syracuse University College of Law ''based in part on academics'' as well as a grant from the Higher Education Scholarship Fund of the state of Delaware. He said the law school ''arranged for my first year's room and board by placing me as an assitant resident adviser in the undergraduate school.''

As for the moot court competition, Mr. Biden said he had won such a competition, with a partner, in Kingston, Ontario, on Dec. 12, 1967.

Mr. Biden acknowledged that in the testy exchange in New Hampshire, he had lost his temper. ''I exaggerate when I'm angry,'' Mr. Biden said, ''but I've never gone around telling people things that aren't true about me.'' Mr. Biden's questioner had made the query in a mild tone, but provoked an explosive response from Mr. Biden.

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One of Biden's weaknesses

Revisiting Biden's tendency to speak without thinking:

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Over the course of his presidential bid, Biden cemented his reputation as -- how to put this nicely? -- less than disciplined on the campaign trail.

In the summer of 2006, as he was publicly mulling the race, Biden set off a controversy over comments he made about Indian Americans.

"I've had a great relationship [with Indian Americans]," Biden said. "In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."

On the day he formally announced his candidacy, a New York Observer story that quoted Biden as calling Obama "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy" came out, and the resultant uproar effectively undercut any momentum Biden was hoping to build.

While Biden was on his best verbal behavior for much of the rest of the campaign, there is no question that his tendency to shoot from the lip worries some in Obama world. As one Democratic consultant put it: "You know there will be three days in the campaign where someone in Chicago will get a call and respond -- 'What did you say he said?.'" . . . .


At least Biden doesn't lack for self-confidence:

"I think I have a much higher IQ than you do."


Some Democrats in the media are not too happy with Obama's choice:

The picks say something profound about Obama: For all his self-confidence, the 47-year-old Illinois senator worried that he couldn't beat Republican John McCain without help from a seasoned politician willing to attack. The Biden selection is the next logistical step in an Obama campaign that has become more negative - a strategic decision that may be necessary but threatens to run counter to his image. . . .


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8/22/2008

No room for balloons at the Dem's green convention

This just shows how far the silliness goes. Even though the balloons are made out of latex, "whose chief ingredient is made from the sap of rubber trees, will degrade at the same rate as an oak leaf, in similar conditions," the Dems have set up their own compost pile to test this out.

The Democrats might let the air out of a convention tradition at August's party confab in Denver. Concern over the environment, intensified by the fact that Barack Obama's nomination speech will be outside, has the Democrats unsure what they'll do. Meanwhile, the Republicans won't have the same problem, since their nomination speech will be indoors, but say they're concerned about the environment, too.

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Relationships during the Olympics

The London Times has this discussion about relationships that develop during the Olympic games:

it is worth noting an intriguing dichotomy between the sexes in respect of all this coupling. The chaps who win gold medals - even those as geeky as Michael Phelps - are the principal objects of desire for many female athletes. There is something about sporting success that makes a certain type of woman go crazy - smiling, flirting and sometimes even grabbing at the chaps who have done the business in the pool or on the track. An Olympic gold medal is not merely a route to fame and fortune; it is also a surefire ticket to writhe.

But - and this is the thing - success does not work both ways. Gold-medal winning female athletes are not looked upon by male athletes with any more desire than those who flunked out in the first round. . . .


This certainly sounds consistent with what one would expect given social biology.

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Ethics problems in Washington State: Governor negotiating behind closed doors with unions who contribute large amounts to her campaign

A podcast of Sonya Jones' interview on KIRO with Dori Monson is here.

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8/21/2008

Even the NY Times recognizes that Women will never run as fast as Men

Testosterone is apparently the key difference.

BEIJING — No matter what happens in the men’s marathon here Sunday, one thing is all but certain. The winner will run the 26.2-mile course faster than the winner of the women’s marathon last Sunday.

The woman who won, Constantina Tomescu of Romania, was fast, of course, finishing the race in 2 hours 26 minutes 44 seconds — more than a minute ahead of the second-place finisher. But for a variety of intrinsic biological reasons, the best women can never run as fast as the best men, exercise researchers say.

Women are slower than men in running, in swimming, in cycling. Whether it is a 100-meter race on the track or a marathon, a 200-meter butterfly swim or a 10-kilometer marathon swim, the pattern holds.

And even though some scientists once predicted that women would eventually close the gender gap in elite performances — it was proposed that all they needed was more experience, better training and stronger coaching — that idea is now largely discredited, at least for Olympic events. Researchers say there is no one physiological reason for the gap, although there is a common biological thread.

“To a large extent, it’s a matter of testosterone,” said Dr. Benjamin Levine, director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Presbyterian Hospital and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “That’s why systematic doping of women is even more effective than systematic doping of men. That’s why the East German women were so much more successful than the East German men.”

The hormone affects everything from muscle size and strength to the size of the heart to the amount of oxygen-carrying blood cells in the body to the percentage of fat on an athlete’s body. Every one of those effects gives men a performance advantage.

Testosterone, Levine said, gives men what he calls a bigger and better-fueled engine. Their skeletal muscles, which do the work during exercise, are bigger. And their hearts, which provide fuel for the work, are bigger, too.

It is not that every man is inherently better than every woman.

“A very lean, well-trained woman will be faster than a less lean, less fit man,” he said. But that is not the issue in the Olympics, where the men and women are among the world’s best. . . .

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FEC rejects Dems claim that McCain violated Public Financing Laws

The Politico has this story:

John McCain was spared some potentially embarrassing legal trouble early Thursday afternoon, when the Federal Election Commission voted unanimously to let his presidential campaign out of the primary election public financing system.

The vote takes the air out of Democrats’ claims that McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, had broken the rules of the system, an accusation Democrats have wielded to try to undercut McCain’s image as a campaign finance reformer.

The Democratic National Committee in February filed a complaint with the commission asserting that McCain ran afoul of the system by qualifying for its funds, using the possibility of receiving them to secure a loan, but then withdrawing from the system and exceeding its spending limits.

But the commission ruled that McCain did not actually receive the funds or pledge them as collateral for a loan — and that, therefore, he could withdraw from the system without penalty. . . . .

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Right Now Dems Looking to Pick up Six Seats in Senate


If true, this would probably effectively let Dems overcome any filibusters. A detailed discussion can be found here.

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Why McCain is doing better in the polls

Blake Dvorak from the WSJ's Political Diary:

Reasons for the McCain Surge? Republicans (not Independents and Democrats)

One surprising finding in last week's Pew Research poll on the presidential election is that Sen. John McCain has stronger support among Republican voters than Sen. Barack Obama does among Democratic voters. Since June, Mr. McCain has increased his support among Republicans by five points, from 82% to 87%. By contrast, Mr. Obama increased his support among Democrats by just one point, 82% to 83%.

These numbers are surprising because they go against conventional wisdom. Mr. McCain was supposed to be the one having trouble with his base, while Mr. Obama was supposed to quickly sew up the schism with Hillary Clinton supporters and unite his party. In fact, according to Pew, Mr. Obama has 72% support from former Clinton backers, exactly where it was a month ago.

So what can we glean from Pew's numbers in terms of optimizing each candidate's respective vice presidential choice? First, although the poll suggests that Mr. Obama should choose Mrs. Clinton, he has likely already made his decision and it's not Hillary, which won't make wooing alienated Clinton fans any easier. For Mr. McCain, who is believed to be still mulling his options, Pew's numbers should bring a sigh of relief as well as a sense of caution. Mr. McCain's relationship with the Republican base has always been contentious, so its support should not be taken for granted. His Veep selection should be aimed at shoring up that support even as he makes a play for the middle. . . .

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Salaries for careers: study engineering and economics?


Picking a career. Interestingly, economics tends to have the largest absolute increase in salary over one's career. It seems like there is an interesting economics question about to what extent the higher salaries are due to being more difficult majors and the students being smarter and the value added from the major.

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The penalties for Identity Fraud

47 years for six stolen identities.

A 1400 SAT, a Stolen Identity, and Now a Guilty Plea From a Former Columbia Student

A woman pleaded guilty on Tuesday to stealing the identity of a missing woman in order to attend Columbia University, the Associated Press reported.

Esther Elizabeth Reed, who is 30, faces up to 47 years in prison and $1-million in fines for identity-theft, mail-fraud, wire-fraud, and loan-fraud charges. Ms. Reed was arrested earlier this year and accused of using the identity of Brooke Henson, a South Carolina woman who has been missing since 1999, to get into Columbia and obtain student loans.

Prosecutors say that, starting in 2001, Ms. Reed juggled six false identities to attend Columbia and California State University at Fullerton, according to the AP. Previous news reports have said Ms. Reed was also admitted to Harvard University under a false identity. At Columbia, at least, prosecutors say Ms. Reed did gain admission using her own SAT score, a 1400. —Elyse Ashburn

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Microsoft Enlists Jerry Seinfeld in Ad War Against Apple, but media doesn't he is a Mac user

Microsoft has hired Jerry Seinfeld for $10 million to help with Vista's image problems. Yet, Seinfeld is reportedly a Mac user.

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Government putting private universities at a disadvantage

After Walter WIlliams' column this week on my book, Eugene Hiller, a former member of the Alumni Board for the University of Buffalo wrote his:

I am surprised you know about the University of Buffalo. I was on the Alumni Board when it happened; Rockefeller was Governor.
They ccame to us and said as you wrote: "We will put a low cost State U. next to you and wipe you out". At the time, UB was an excellant private university. Though underendowed, it served the area well providing most of the Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants and Pharmacists for the area.
The community plus is that Suny Buffalo is now the largest employer in Western Nrw York.


It was interesting that today I came across a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education about special regulations being impoased on for-profit universities:

California Assembly Approves Bill to Revive Oversight of For-Profit Colleges

Berkeley, Calif. — The California Assembly approved a bill on Tuesday that would renew oversight of the state’s 1,700 for-profit colleges, the latest attempt to settle a long-running battle over how strictly the colleges should be regulated.

The 132-page measure, SB 823, was approved in a 43-to-32 vote and now heads to the Senate, the Contra Costa Timesreported. The authority of the state agency that previously oversaw for-profit colleges expired on July 1, and lawmakers have been unable to agree on a way to restore it. Without such oversight, students at proprietary colleges are unable to file complaints or to recover expenses if their institutions go out of business.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has not taken a position on the bill.

The argument over for-profit colleges here, which is being watched closely in other states, has stretched on for several years. Consumer groups have argued that students need better protection and colleges need to report more-accurate data about their performance. Companies that own for-profit colleges have argued that bureaucratic red tape has prevented them from offering new programs.

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Study: Women live longer if they have grandchildren, men live longer if they have multiple wives

From Fox News:

Some men may think one is bad enough. But a study suggests the key to a long life may be to get a second wife.

Researchers from the U.K.'s University of Sheffield looked at men older than 60 from 140 countries that practice polygamy and found that they lived an average of 12 percent longer than men from 49 monogamous nations, according to a report from the Times of India.

The study's findings were presented last week at the International Society for Behavioral Ecology’s annual meetingin Ithaca, New York, according to the report.

Researchers looked to previous research on women to answer why polygamous men live longer and chalk it up to a variation of the "grandmother effect."

Scientists believe women, who live considerably longer post-menopause than other mammals, do so because the longer they live the more grandchildren they have to dote on. Caring for grandchildren, it seems, gives women a reason to live long after they're no longer able to reproduce.

Doting on grandchildren, however, does not have the same life-lengthening benefits for men. But men are able to reproduce into their 60s, 70s and 80s. So it would seem, researchers said, that polygamous men experience a sort of father effect, meaning, the more wives they have, the more children they father. Fathering children gives them a reason to continue living longer than monogamous men who often stop fathering children at much earlier ages, researchers concluded.

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8/19/2008

"Too cold for Global Warming Relay"

Here is an amusing story from the Lithgow Mercury in Australia:

Climate change may be THE hot international issue of the moment but enthusiasm for the cause clearly wanes on a freezing Friday afternoon when the campaign moves to a mountain top where the wind chill factor is below zero.
This was perhaps the predictably disappointing outcome when the GetUp! climate change lobby group organised an enviro torch relay from Hassans Walls Lookout to Queen Elizabeth Park to focus public attention on the issue.

Ironically, global warming would probably have been welcomed by the handful of hardy souls who turned up to lend their support to the campaign on one of the coldest Lithgow days of this or any other year.

The wind and solar powered torch — created by the designers of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Torch — was carried to The Walls by two pedal cyclists.

There it was handed over to the small group of supporters who stuck to their task and ignored the big chill while on their way to Elizabeth Park.

The climate change torch continued its journey around Bathurst on Saturday where it was greeted by a big crowd at a schoolboy Rugby Union carnival at St Stanislaus College oval. . . .

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Walter Williams discusses Freedomnomics

Walter's entire piece can be seen here:

By taking a couple of courses in economic theory, we could immunize ourselves from nonsense spouted by politicians and pundits, but in the meantime check out Professor John R. Lott's "Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works."

His first chapter is "Are You Being Ripped Off?" It addresses myths about predation where it's sometimes alleged that corporations will charge below-cost prices to bankrupt their rivals and then charge unconscionable prices. There's little or no evidence that corporations would choose predation as strategy; there are too many pitfalls. A major one is that in order to recoup losses from charging low prices to bankrupt rivals, the predator would later have to charge higher-than-normal prices. That would attract new rivals who might have purchased the bankrupt assets of the predator's prey and be able to undercut the predator's prices. . . .


Thanks, Walter.

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The Craziness of Academia: the Association of American Law Schools boycott

The Chronicle of Higher Education notes this:

Law-Schools Meeting Finds a Way to Deal With Boycott Threat

The Association of American Law Schools may have found a way out of a sticky situation. The association had contracted with the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel, in San Diego, several years ago to hold its annual meeting there next January. But The San Diego Union-Tribune reported in March that the hotel’s owner was a prominent contributor to an effort to amend the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages, and several groups had threatened to boycott the meeting unless the association moved it to another hotel.

According to a statement adopted by its executive committee late last week, the association had also booked rooms at the San Diego Marriott, and the contracts left the choice of where to locate specific events — such as registration, an exhibit hall, and representatives’ meetings — up to the association. “We will honor our contracts with both hotels, and we have exercised our option to hold all AALS events at the Marriott to ensure the maximum participation by our members,” the statement reads. . . .


The Chronicle left out one little embarrassing fact. What makes this story particularly funny and newsworthy is that the Association of American Law Schools went through huge efforts to boycott a hotel because of the owner's support for banning same-sex marriage but failed to see that the Marriott and Hyatt are BOTH owned by people who support amending the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages. Here are some sources on this here and here.

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Obama caught making up false record on abortion to mollify opposition from pro-lifers

John Fund at the WSJ's Political Diary:

Obama's Abortion Position? It's a One-liner

. . . Mr. Obama eroded many of those gains [with pro-life voters] last Saturday when he told Pastor Rick Warren during a nationally televised forum that deciding when the rights of personhood should be extended to the unborn was "above my pay grade." Even Doug Kmiec, a conservative Pepperdine University lawyer who has become one of Mr. Obama's most prominent pro-life backers, was unsettled. He called the candidate's answer "much too glib for something this serious."

Mr. Obama compounded his problems after the forum when in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, he accused pro-life groups of "lying" about his record in the Illinois State Senate on legislation that would have protected viable babies born after botched abortions. Mr. Obama acknowledged voting against the bill but said he would have voted "yes" if the bill had contained language similar to a federal bill's language making clear that the intention wasn't to diminish overall abortion rights. But, as recently revealed, the Illinois bill had indeed included such language and Mr. Obama still voted against it.

"Senator Obama got caught in the twisting of the truth," says Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council. "His campaign was later forced to put out a clarifying statement that it was the Senator himself who was actually wrong on the facts. He did indeed vote against a bill in the Illinois State Senate that was identical to the federal legislation that sought to protect babies who survive abortions."

Mr. Obama's stand on the issue is significant. The federal "Born Alive Infant Protection Act" sailed through the Senate in 2001 on a vote of 98 to 0. The bill was supported by Senator Barbara Boxer, the body's leading pro-choice spokeswoman, and was not opposed by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. By getting his facts wrong, Mr. Obama is now in the difficult position of trying to explain why he voted against a bill that the legislative record shows addressed infanticide rather than abortion. . . .

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Survey of Partisan Drinking Behavior

Beam Global Spirits & Wine (NYSE:FO) of Deerfield, Ill., partnered with a research firm to survey 100 bartenders in the D.C. area to find the drinking preferences of the competing political parties. . . .


Just a warning to begin with, I wonder whether these results tell us more about the political preferences of the bartenders than their patrons.

The survey found that 60 percent of area bartenders regard Democrats as the better tippers. Republicans had the edge when it came to being seen as serious drinkers.

Eighty-two percent of bartenders said Republicans are more likely to order a drink straight up, and 58 percent pegged Democrats as being more likely to order a fruity, pink drink.

Democrats had the edge in two other categories as well: pickup lines (74 percent said Democrats had better ones) and toasts (63 percent said Democrats were better at delivery them than members of the GOP).

It’s unclear which persuasion spends more time at the bar. More bartenders (53 percent) thought Democrats were the last to leave, but more (50 percent) also pegged Republicans as the first to arrive at happy hour.

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8/18/2008

Finally a convincing explanation for why we need government education bureaucrats

Warning: you should be seated and not eating or drinking anything while you watch this.


If you want to see the rest of the program, here are part 1, part 2, and part 4. It is all quite good.

"The only people who will like this are the parents and the children . . ."

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Great Grandmother holds Burglar at bay with gun

A video of the woman can be found here:

LAKE LYNN, Pa. -- An 85-year-old great-grandmother from Lake Lynn, Fayette County kept an alleged burglar at bay using a .22-caliber pistol.
According to police, a 17-year-old suspect was attempting to burglarize Leda Smith overnight.
That's when Smith grabbed her gun and told the teen that she would shoot him if he moved, police said.
"I had the gun on him before he turned around and said, 'you've had it,' " Smith told Channel 11-News.
According to police, Smith ordered the boy to dial 911 and then gave him some advice.
"Dial 911 and don't attempt to throw the phone at me, or do anything bad or i'll just shoot you," Smith said.
When police arrived, they took the teen into custody. . . . .

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New Op-ed at Fox News: Obama's Tax Follies

The new piece for Fox News starts like this:

Not all tax cuts are the same. The question isn’t just how much money taxpayers get to keep or are given, but the impact that taxes have on how hard people work. Tax plans that try to help the poor can sometimes become traps, making it difficult for the poor to climb out of poverty.

One approach is to lower the marginal tax rate, the percentage taken for each additional dollar they earn. The other increase tax deductions and credits, but phases them out as people’s income increases.

Take something such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, a program designed to help guarantee the poor a certain level of income. The desire to help the poor is understandable, but it also creates its own problems. Giving more money to people, the poorer they are, also means that the more income these poor individuals make, the more government assistance is taken away from them. Just as higher taxes discourage work, the loss of a significant portion of one’s deductions and credits will also discourage work.

Senator McCain’s proposals have top marginal income tax rates of 35 percent for individuals and 25 percent for corporations, while Senator Obama’s plan has rates of 39.6 and 35 percent respectively. But the official marginal tax rate isn’t the rate that people actually pay because they also lose tax breaks as their income rises. . . .

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The Washington Post acknowledges Bias in the McCain/Obama race

Good for the Washington Post Ombudsman:

Democrat Barack Obama has had about a 3 to 1 advantage over Republican John McCain in Post Page 1 stories since Obama became his party's presumptive nominee June 4. Obama has generated a lot of news by being the first African American nominee, and he is less well known than McCain -- and therefore there's more to report on. But the disparity is so wide that it doesn't look good.

In overall political stories from June 4 to Friday, Obama dominated by 142 to 96. Obama has been featured in 35 stories on Page 1; McCain has been featured in 13, with three Page 1 references with photos to stories on inside pages. Fifteen stories featured both candidates and were about polls or issues such as terrorism, Social Security and the candidates' agreement on what should be done in Afghanistan.

This dovetails with Obama's dominance in photos, which I pointed out two weeks ago. At that time, it was 122 for Obama and 78 for McCain. Two weeks later, it's 143 to 100, almost the same gap, because editors have run almost the same number of photos -- 21 of Obama and 22 of McCain -- since they realized the disparity. McCain is almost even with Obama in Page 1 photos -- 10 to 9.

This is not just a Post phenomenon. The Project for Excellence in Journalism has been monitoring campaign coverage at an assortment of large and medium-circulation newspapers, broadcast evening and morning news shows, five news Web sites, three major cable news networks, and public radio and other radio outlets. Its latest report, for the week of Aug. 4-10, shows that for the eighth time in nine weeks, Obama received significantly more coverage than McCain. . . .

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Follow up on Jerry Lewis accidentally trying to carry a gun on a plane

Apparently, Jerry Lewis is a gun owner. The explanation that I posted to before that it was a prop gun that a relative had put in his bag was not correct. In any case, it is clear that Lewis made a simple mistake and was not a threat to anyone. Hopefully, the zero tolerance laws will show a little intelligence here.

LOS ANGELES (AP) Jerry Lewis tells "Entertainment Tonight" that a gun found in his carryon bag at the Las Vegas airport last month was a gift from an engraver that he put in a travel bag a year ago and forgot. His manager had previously said the weapon was a prop gun.


Hat tip to Jeff Soyer.

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LaSalle County (Illinois) to Vote on Carrying Concealed Handguns

Given that Illinois is one of only two states that ban people carrying concealed handguns, this was interesting. It is nonbinding, but it is amazing that the resolution was passed 25 to 0.

LaSalle County Board members voted unanimously Thursday to put a referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot asking voters if they support the right to carry concealed firearms.

The resolution was passed 25-0, with board Chairman Jerry Hicks abstaining. Robert Jakupcak, Ronald Dittmer and Thomas Ganiere were absent.

"All comments made on the referendum were pretty much favorable," said board member Randy Freeman. "The only concern the sheriff (Tom Templeton) brought up was making sure it referenced House Bill 1304 to have state police doing the issuing, testing and background checks if it's passed."

The County Board's sheriff and rules committee recently passed a unanimous resolution to put a referendum on the ballot. During Thursday's full board meeting, State's Attorney Brian Towne said while he'd like to remain neutral on the referendum, he thinks it will have to go through several amendments before it's finally enacted. . . .


Hat tip to Jeff Soyer.

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I am starting to like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt more and more

With wild, crazy attacks such as this, I have to believe that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are reasonable people.

Roseanne Barr slams Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in a post on her Web site, calling Jolie the "evil spawn" of actor Jon Voight and Pitt her "vacuous hubby."

"Your evil spawn Angelina Jolie and her vacuous hubby Brad Pitt make about $40 million a year in violent, psychopathic movies and give away three of it to starving children, trying to look as if they give a crap about humanity as they spit out more dunces that will consume more than their fair share and wreck the earth even more," Roseanne writes in a post titled "Jon Voight." . . .

"Miss Jolie says she likes [John] McCain too and hasn't decided who to endorse....huh? Aren't you supposed to be somewhat enlightened, or do you not know that the African daughter you hold in every picture had parents who suffered and died because of the Republican party's worldwide economic assault on Africa over the last few decades since Reagan?" . . .

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John Fund on Obama's explanation for his poor showing on Saturday

John Fund in today's WSJ's Political Diary:

Sore Loser

The Barack Obama campaign apparently went outside the normal spin guardrails yesterday in trying to explain how John McCain did so well in Saturday's Saddleback Forum with Pastor Rick Warren. As NBC's Andrea Mitchell noted on Sunday's "Meet the Press," what the Obama campaign is "putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama. . . . He seemed so well prepared."

But Pastor Rick Warren assured CNN that Mr. McCain didn't hear any of the questions in advance, even if the candidate was stuck in traffic and was a bit late arriving to the pre-arranged quiet room or "cone of silence." Charlie Black, a McCain adviser who was with him at the time, confirmed that Mr. McCain was in a motorcade and "then a holding room in another building with no TV." . . .

For its part, the Obama campaign officially says it now assumes both candidates were equally unaware of the questions and isn't interested in pursuing the matter. . . .


Byron York reports this:

In addition, according to Ross, Obama knew a third specific question that Warren would ask — the one about a "president's emergency plan for adoption." "[Warren] felt that since that was basically asking for a commitment, he felt that it was fair to tell them in advance that he was going to ask them that," Ross told me. So Warren told Obama, and planned to tell McCain when McCain arrived at Saddleback, but wasn't able to because of other distractions. So according to what Ross told me, Obama actually knew one more question in advance than did McCain. . . .

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McCain has a relatively small lead over Obama among hunters

Politico has this new poll from last week here:

According to a Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation poll to be released Wednesday, John McCain leads Obama by 45 percent to 31 percent. That’s only about half the 27-point edge respondents say they gave George W. Bush over Kerry four years ago and far short of the 65 percent gun owners gave to Bush over Gore's 15 percent in 2000.

The poll of 1,009 hunters and fishermen, conducted by Braun Research between July 10-24, could be a reflection of McCain’s up-and-down relationship with gun advocates and suggests the presumptive GOP nominee has not yet persuaded a core Republican constituency. . . .

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Any interesting lecture on why you "Don't talk to the Police"

This is outside my normal postings, but I thought that the lecture here was very interesting. Here is the "other" side from a former detective who agrees with the first speaker.

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Why campaign finance limits will matter in the Fall

Chuck Todd had this to say on Meet the Press:

But the most remarkable thing, I think about the map is how the toss-ups are fairly steady. McCain is strong in the places that he's campaigning and advertising. Now, he is a limited amount of states that he's advertising in. He's only in about 11 of the battleground states, Obama's trying to expand the playing field, he's advertising in 18 and you see that difference. In those seven states that only Obama's in, his numbers have moved up a lot more and obviously McCain hasn't, but in those other states, McCain's holding steady and even has a lead in some of them.


Here is also what I quoted previously about the impact of Obama's large campaign expenditures in Florida.

These examples show why campaign expenditures matter and with Obama having a 5-to-1 or so advantage over McCain, this is going to be a very difficult campaign. The 50 state campaign planned by Obama is going to increase Democratic turnout everywhere. I worry about a huge down ballot benefit for Democrats.

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8/17/2008

2008 Democratic Platform on Gun Control

See page 48 here:

We recognize that the right to bear arms is an important part of the American tradition, and we will preserve Americans' Second Amendment right to own and use firearms. We believe that the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation, but we know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact and enforce commonsense laws and improvements - like closing the gun show loophole, improving our background check system, and reinstating the assault weapons ban, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals. Acting responsibly and with respect for differing views on this issue, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe.


Despite Obama's claims about the Supreme Court agreeing with him on overturning the DC gun ban, the statement that "we know that what works in Chicago" sure seems to support the Chicago gun ban.

Meanwhile, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is telling reporters that Obama "ain't ever going to take your gun away." But the DNC Platform discussions about the Chicago ban and "reinstating the assault weapons ban" seem inconsistent with that.

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Trying to keep a rough count of a couple Soviet (oops, Russian) denials

See this:

Just hours before Mr Medvedev put his signature to the ceasefire deal, Russian forces blew up a Georgian railway bridge on the main line west of the capital, Tbilisi, an act that critics interpreted as a malacious attempt to cripple the country's infrastructure. Moscow at first issued a denial, but television footage shot by the Reuters news agency clearly showed the bridge's twisted remains. . . .


See this:

"Russia currently is not in compliance with that cease-fire," Rice said. "I don't have an explanation because I would think that when the Russian president says that a signed cease-fire accord will mean the withdrawal of Russian forces, that Russian forces would then withdraw. They did not. However, yet again, the Russian president has given his word, and this time, I hope he'll honor it." . . .


See this:

President Dmitri Medvedev promised European negotiators early Wednesday morning that Russia would halt its brutal attacks on Georgia and begin withdrawing its troops. A few hours later, Russian tanks rolled into the strategic crossroads town of Gori - just 40 miles from Georgia's capital, Tbilisi. . . .


Or this:

Russia's assertions that it was provoked into war by "genocide" in South Ossetia and that it is observing a cease-fire in Georgia came under new challenge Thursday, as the U.S. stepped up diplomatic pressure on Moscow. . . .

On the ground in South Ossetia -- the contested region where fighting broke out last week between Georgia and Russia -- there was little evidence that Georgian attacks killed thousands of civilians, as Russia has said. Doctors said they had treated a few hundred people and one cited a confirmed death toll in the dozens. . . . .

Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said his nation is a victim of a "disinformation campaign of spectacular proportions." He said Russian troops "have never occupied Gori." . . .

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Texas Authorities Again Goes After Polygamist Sect's Children

Well, eight children is a lot fewer than 440 children. The difference could hardly be more dramatic, but possibly the Child Protective Services felt that they had to do something to save face. After two months one would think that CPS would have had time to build a very strong case, but if CPS loses on these few cases, it will really show an agency that is out of control. The AP has the story here:

SAN ANGELO, Texas — More than two months after being forced to return children from a polygamist sect to their parents, Texas child welfare authorities want eight youngsters put back in foster care.

Individual hearings for the four mothers of the children, who range in age from 5 to 17, are set to begin Monday.

Child Protective Services has asked a judge to return the children to foster care because their mothers have allegedly refused to limit their contact with men accused of being involved in underage marriages.

"We continue to have concerns in particular for these eight children, which is why we have asked the judge to review the case," said CPS spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner.

None of the children live at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, from where authorities took roughly 440 children into foster care in April. Officials said the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which established the ranch, was forcing girls into underage marriages and grooming boys to be adult abusers.

The Texas Supreme Court forced CPS to return the children to their parents six weeks after they were placed in foster care because the agency presented evidence of no more than a handful of teenage girls being abused. Many of the children taken into CPS custody were infants and toddlers. . . .

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Something to remember: The sacrifices that others make for us


Thanks to Wade Price for sending me this link.

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NBC Air Conditioned Outdoors Set for Beijing Olympics

Wasn't this the network that was haranguing everyone to cut back on their energy usage? Personally, if the benefits from them using energy exceed the costs, they should use the energy. Surely, one can understand that you don't want anchors drowning in their own perspiration while doing a show, but it would be nice if the news media understood this trade-off for the rest of the country. The Business & Media Institute has a discussion here:

The NBC family of networks has no problem showing viewers how to save the planet. But if it is a muggy, smoggy 85 degrees, as is the forecast for Beijing this week, consider looking elsewhere for eco-inspiration.

WTHR, the NBC affiliate for Indianapolis, reported from Beijing and described the NBC set used for the network's two highest rated news broadcasts, “NBC Nightly News” and “Today,” as air conditioned – even though it is outdoors.

“The set is outside, but air conditioning vents make the weather bearable,” Anne Marie Tiernon wrote for WTHR Eyewitness News on August 14.

Even NBC “Today” co-host Matt Lauer remarked about the air conditioning, but said it was still uncomfortable even with it.

“The first couple of nights even with the air conditioning it was steamy in here, but we've been lucky ever since,” Lauer said to WTHR. “It’s been overcast some days, takes the temperature down. We call it fog smog.”

Last fall, the network performed a publicity stunt on its November 4 broadcast of its highly rated Sunday Night NFL Football show, “Football Night in America.” The broadcast used limited lighting for the broadcast and even went completely dark for the final moments of the program. . . .

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8/16/2008

First the move was to let felons vote, now to prevent Sex Offenders from being tracked after release from probation or parole

It is one thing to change the penalties after someone has committed a crime, but it is quite another to say that certain penalties cannot exceed just the time that someone is in jail or on parole. The AP has this story:

Eager to protect children from sexual predators, Nevada and other states across the nation are adopting laws that publicize the names of offenders on the Internet.

But sex offenders say they have rights, too, and argue it's wrong to lump those guilty of minor offenses with the worst offenders. Some are challenging the laws.

"People think that imposing these draconian retroactive laws are a way to keep their children safe," said Margaret McLetchie, an American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada lawyer.

McLetchie and Robert Langford, who represent 27 unnamed plaintiffs in a federal civil rights lawsuit, want to block two sex-offender laws from taking effect in Nevada.

The laws, which they say are unconstitutional, were tailored to meet standards under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which President Bush signed in 2006.

Nevada was among the first to pass the laws that would allow the state to post on the Internet the names, photos, home and work addresses and vehicle descriptions of offenders who've served probation or prison sentences on convictions as far back as 1956. . . .

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News this week: Summary Judgment in Chicago Gun Ban Case will be heard on Monday

It is unlikely that a decision will be made in the case on Monday, though it is certainly possible given that something could happen given that Chicago did not answer the initial questions in their response brief.

I have also heard that the SF public housing ban case will likely be settled out with the California Public Housing authority is giving in on the case.

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Daily tracking polls show the presidential race is extremely close

Making it easy for Felons to vote

The Obama campaign is really rounding up all possible voters:

A young man approached the table and was pleasantly surprised to learn that felons in Georgia who've completed probation can vote. "If I'd a-known it was this easy," he said in disbelief, "I would have been done!" After completing the form, Bishop folded it and deposited it in an ersatz ballot box. The sign beside it read, Voting Is a Sacred Right and a Moral Obligation.

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8/15/2008

Chicago's Cool Summer

The Chicago Tribune has this story:

summer heat continues in short supply, continuing a trend that has dominated much of the 21st Century's opening decade. There have been only 162 days 90 degrees or warmer at Midway Airport over the period from 2000 to 2008. That's by far the fewest 90-degree temperatures in the opening nine years of any decade on record here since 1930.

This summer's highest reading to date has been just 91 degrees. That's unusual. Since 1928, only one year—2000—has failed to record a higher warm-season temperature by Aug. 13.

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Texas school district let's teachers and staff carry guns at school

The full article is available here:

Texas school district OKs pistols for staff
August 15, 2008

HARROLD, Texas — A tiny Texas school district may be the first in the nation to allow teachers and staff to pack guns for protection when classes begin later this month, a newspaper reported.

Trustees at the Harrold Independent School District approved a district policy change last October so employees can carry concealed firearms to deter and protect against school shootings, provided the gun-toting teachers follow certain requirements.

In order for teachers and staff to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun; must be authorized to carry by the district; must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and have to use ammunition that is designed to minimize the risk of ricochet in school halls.

Superintendent David Thweatt said the small community is a 30-minute drive from the sheriff's office, leaving students and teachers without protection. He said the district's lone campus sits 500 feet from heavily trafficked U.S. 287, which could make it a target.

"When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that's when all of these shootings started. Why would you put it out there that a group of people can't defend themselves? That's like saying 'sic 'em' to a dog," Thweatt said in Friday's online edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Thweatt said officials researched the policy and considered other options for about a year before approving the policy change. He said the district also has various other security measures in place to prevent a school shooting.

"The naysayers think (a shooting) won't happen here. If something were to happen here, I'd much rather be calling a parent to tell them that their child is OK because we were able to protect them," Thweatt said. . . .

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What are the consequences of Obama's Campaign letting Clinton's name be put in for the nomination?

John Fund has this discussion today at the WSJ's Political Diary:

The Obama campaign was in full spin mode yesterday touting its decision to allow Hillary Clinton to have a roll call vote at the convention so her delegates can register their support of her.

"It's an olive branch that we think will pay dividends in party unity," one Democratic congressman told me. I'm not so sure. Many Clinton supporters will be appreciative of the symbolic gesture, but others such as those who unofficially call themselves Pumas (Party Unity My Ass) may see it as an opportunity to make more trouble for Mr. Obama both on and off the convention floor.

"The one thing that Obama should never have agreed to is a roll-call vote with Hillary Clinton," says Jeff Birnbaum, a Washington Post columnist. Mr. Birnbaum nonetheless admits to being "so grateful that we are going to have a story, which is Hillary Clinton's attempt tacitly to take over the Obama victory, and that [story] will go through virtually every day of the convention" given how frequently Bill and Hillary Clinton are scheduled to appear before delegates.

Indeed, the Clinton people I spoke with appear emboldened by the Obama concessions. . . .

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