Barack Obama did not hunt or fish as a child. He lives in a big city. And as an Illinois state legislator and a U.S. senator, he consistently backed gun control legislation.
But he is nevertheless making a play for pro-gun voters in rural Pennsylvania.
By highlighting his background in constitutional law and downplaying his voting record, Obama is engaging in a quiet but targeted drive to win over an important constituency that on the surface might seem hostile to his views.
The need to craft a strategy aimed at pro-gun voters underscores the potency of the issue in Pennsylvania, which claims one of the nation’s highest per capita membership rates in the National Rifle Association. . . .
This is the same guy who told me back in the mid-1990s that he didn't think that anybody should be able to own a gun.
It's a debate waged in apartment complexes and residential communities across the country: Feed the neighborhood critters or shoo them a way?
A Florida retirement community did a little more than shoo, choosing instead to shoot at the Muscovy ducks that had fouled the pool and become a general nuisance for residents, according to a report by MyFOXTampaBay.com.
The Clearwater retirement community's homeowners association voted to obtain a firearm permit and entrust one of their own, Bruce Streeter, with eliminating the ducks.
"Because he's the youngest in here, and he can still see well to have a good aim," fellow resident Debbie Clayton told MyFOXTampaBay.com.
Streeter said he only hit two or three, but that was enough for animal cruelty charges to be filed. Streeter pleaded no contest and had to pay about $300 in court costs, which were covered by donations from his neighbors, according to the TV station. . . .
"Scientists downplay global warming's effect on hurricanes"
The Miami Herald writes on a scientific conference that took place in Florida:
ORLANDO -- We're in a busy period of hurricane activity that will inflict unimaginable damage, but global warming is not the cause, leading researchers told the nation's foremost forecasters and other experts Friday. . . .
MADISON — Enacting city smoking bans appears to increase drunken driving, according to a new national study of arrests by Wisconsin researchers.
Fatal accidents involving alcohol increased after communities banned public smoking, the study to be released by the Journal of Public Economics found. The authors attributed the increase to people driving farther to drink, either to a place with an outdoor smoking area or a city without a ban.
“The increased miles driven by drivers who wish to smoke and drink offsets any reduction in driving from smokers choosing to stay home after a ban, resulting in increased alcohol-related accidents,” the study says.
The researchers, Scott Adams, of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Chad Cotti, now at the University of South Carolina, said they were surprised by the results.
“We thought we would see a reduction,” Adams said. “Our first thought was, ‘Throw it away, it must be wrong.’”
But it wasn’t, he said.
The study looks at highway fatalities from 2001 to 2005 involving at least one driver with blood alcohol content over 0.08. It compares those in cities and counties with bans to crashes in surrounding areas without bans. It found an increase in accidents after smoking bans were enacted, both in ban areas and near boundary lines. . . .
Barack Obama recently gave a talk at my son Roger's high school. Here is the clip of that discussion. You might note that Roger obviously has quite a reputation there at the school. There is quite the ruckus as soon as it is clear that he is the one who is about to ask the next question.
It was when Obama pointed to a red-headed kid in a white T-shirt up in the corner of the gym that things got interesting. A titter went through the student section. Apparently, from where Obama was standing, he couldn’t see the kid was wearing a “Ron Paul for President” T-shirt. The kid didn’t identify himself, but said he was concerned about any government-run health-care system modeled on anything like the Europeans use. He said his own grandmother died in Sweden because she couldn’t easily get the kind of treatment readily available in this country. Obama was handling the kid’s question with aplomb until he closed with this: “I’m not advocating a government-run system, right now.” Not right now? And that means, what? Not until after the election? Or sometime into his second term? Some clever Republican ad guy could have a field day with that clip. But the best stuff came after Obama signed off. . . . Turned out the kid with the red hair is named Roger Lott. His dad is John Lott, the conservative economist who wrote “More Guns, Less Crime.” His mom has her Ph.D. in economics, too. I asked Roger what his dad makes of his Ron Paul thing. He said his pop has “some concerns”” about candidate Paul. What a relief! . . .
Personally, I didn't think that Obama did a very good job answering Roger's question. 1) The fact of rationing by governments when they pay for health care is well known. When you give something away for free people will want to use a lot more of it than you have. Having very few MRIs or long waits for surgery is very common. 2) The notion that the government can provide these services more efficiently wasn't credible. Whether it is education or mail delivery, is there a case that one can point to where given the same services and regulatory burden that the public sector provides the service at a lower cost? 3) The life expectancy comparisons between the US and Sweden were particularly poorly done. Life expectancy and childhood mortality rates depends on many things such as the behavior of the patients. If people use drugs or engage in other dangerous behavior while pregnant, you will have more problems of different types. Comparing infant mortality rates or life expectancy of whites in the US and whites in Sweden shows that the US does quite well.
UPDATE: I have gotten some emails asking about Roger's grandmother, his mom's mom, who died in Sweden. His grandmother was complaining of abdominal pain and got an appointment with a GP. The GP set up an appointment with a specialist, but she had to wait about three months before the first opening was available. The week before her appointment with the specialist she had to be rushed to a hospital for emergency surgery because the tumor that was producing her pain was blocking her small intestines. After the surgery, it took 8 months before she was able to get an MRI (to speed things up we offered to pay for an MRI in the US, but Swedish doctors would not approve her travel because they said she was too ill). After her MRI, it took another 7 months before her chemo started. By that time though there was apparently little that they could do to help her.
IPCC Reductions in Carbon optimistic at best and unachievable at worst
This discussion doesn't even involved any cost-benefit calculations, just whether these scientists in Nature think that the reductions in Carbon emissions are technically feasible.
Here we show that two-thirds or more of all the energy efficiency improvements and decarbonization of energy supply required to stabilize greenhouse gases is already built into the IPCC reference scenarios. This is because the scenarios assume a certain amount of spontaneous technological change and related decarbonization. Thus, the IPCC implicitly assumes that the bulk of the challenge of reducing future emissions will occur in the absence of climate policies. We believe that these assumptions are optimistic at best and unachievable at worst, potentially seriously underestimating the scale of the technological challenge associated with stabilizing greenhouse-gas concentrations. . . .
The lack of notions of costs and benefits or incentives is troubling, but within their own model I suppose that this is still useful.
What you write about customers voting with their feet on whether a bar should allow smoking makes sense. In this state, though, the pro-ban forces made the argument about the health of bar employees, whose choice about smoking is limited to choosing whether or not to work at a particular bar. (Usually customers have more voice than employees, of course.) What's your response to the concept that smoking bans should occur because of the bad effects of second-hand smoke on those bars' employees?
My answer is that the argument for workers is exactly the same as it is for customers. If employees are asked to work in less desirable place, you will have to pay them more to get them to do it. Firms compete for workers on the basis of salary and other dimensions, such as work place quality. Firms have to see how much they have to pay these workers to work in a smoke filled room and how much smoking customers are willing to pay for that service. If the cost of the workers is less than what the customers are willing to pay, some restaurants will offer smoking.
Clinton and Obama favor some kind of ban on assault weapons, something McCain opposes.
"I ... think we should reinstate the assault weapons ban (that expired in 2004) in order to give our police officers a fighting chance against the criminals on the street with these military-style assault weapons," Clinton said Tuesday.
All three candidates oppose creating a national handgun registry.
Rather than create a national registry, "I do think we have to do a better job sharing information between local and federal officials," Obama said yesterday. He differs with McCain and Clinton about whether people should be allowed to carry concealed guns. Clinton and McCain oppose outlawing it.
"I am not in favor of concealed weapons," Obama said. "I think that creates a potential atmosphere where more innocent people could (get shot during) altercations."
Obama and Clinton agree on most issues, NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandom said.
McCain, however, "was good on our issues for a very long time. ... For a brief period of time, from 1999 to 2003-04, he wasn't as good. But since 2004, he has voted with us 100 percent of the time." . . .
Her question was one that I was disappointed that I hadn't already asked myself: If so, why don't the coffee companies advertise this? The only answer that I have to her question is that if they raise health benefits, they might also have to get into issues such as this:
HOUSTON -- A southeast Houston homeowner shot a burglary suspect Thursday afternoon after he was victimized twice in a week, officials told KPRC Local 2. Thomas Williamson lives in the 6000 block of Bois D'arc. He said he stayed home from work on Thursday after a burglar hit his home twice in a few days. Williamson said he looked out his window at about 1 p.m. and saw a man walk across his back yard. The man went into Williamson's garage and tried to steal an air compressor, worth about $400, he said. When the burglary suspect walked out of the garage with bolt cutters, Williamson said he grabbed his shotgun. "He came to the door and I went, 'Get on the ground. Get on the ground.' He got on the ground and I told him, 'Do not move,'" he said. "I was shaking. I had him on the ground with my shotgun and I told him, 'Do not move.' I was even yelling. I fired one shot in the ground just to show him I meant business."
Despite Gov. Blagojevich's repeated denials that he knew anything about alleged pay-to-play schemes, "the big guy" was told about one plan to squeeze campaign contributions from a firm seeking state business, according to bombshell testimony Wednesday at Tony Rezko's corruption trial.
"Mr. Rezko indicated to me that he had made the governor aware of the situation" involving threats from a Chicago businessman-turned-Hollywood producer to expose a shakedown for campaign cash in 2004, star prosecution witness Stuart Levine told jurors. "And the governor agreed with the way Mr. Rezko wanted to handle it." . . . .
Here is my question: how could have Obama been so deeply involved in Chicago politics without any notion of this level of corruption. Possibly it is the same lack of knowledge that Obama had regarding Rev. Wright. Obama once major memory loss was bad enough, but another huge one might prove more troublesome.
Ed Morrissey has a similar take here and NRO here.
PASADENA, Md. (WJZ) ― A senior citizen in Pasadena caught a burglar in his home and held him at gunpoint until police arrived. Tom Walker told Suzanne Collins he just didn't want the young man to get away with it.
Erick Bjorntwedt, 22, headed to the courthouse on four counts of burglary and destruction of property. Police say he went on a crime spree in Pasadena until he was stopped by a 74-year-old homeowner dressed in long johns.
"He came in, I put the pistol up toward his head. I said, `Get down on the floor.' I said, `No, get down with your face on the floor,'" Tom Walker said.
Walker said he left out the expletives he used when confronting the burglar in his home at 4 a.m.
It started with a planter base used to smash a side window. Security bars prevented entry. Then the rear sliding door was smashed. Walker ran into the burglar in the garage, going through his wife's car.
"I'm no hero. I'm just trying to protect my house and my wife. At our age, we don't want to be bothered with people stealing stuff like that," he said.
The suspect ran into the house where Pat Walker faced him in the kitchen. She also stood up against the suspect. He tried to get out of her kitchen door, so she put her foot up to prevent him from getting out until her husband came back with the gun.
Police say it worked out this time, but confronting a burglar isn't the best idea because they could be armed. . . . .
Over the past few years many Americans have become deeply concerned that judges have begun relying more and more on foreign law to decide questions of U.S. constitutional law. One doesn’t have to be a constitutional scholar to object to foreign laws and foreign courts -- laws that are not enacted by our democratic government and judges who are not selected as our Constitution provides -- ruling on Americans’ rights and the powers of American government. These concerns are largely well founded, and reflect the increasing degree to which modern constitutional adjudication has become altogether unmoored from the text and original understanding of the Framers.
Yet an even bigger issue was before the Supreme Court this Term. In Medellan v. Texas, the issue was not simply whether U.S. judges should consult foreign law to guide their decision-making; instead, the central question before the U.S. Supreme Court was whether the United Nations’ World Court has the legal authority to bind the courts of the United States. In other words, the issue was whether decisions of the World Court are superior to those of the Supreme Court, and whether Americans will be governed by the decisions of foreign judges in The Hague.
Thankfully, by a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court got this one right. . . .
Liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice defeated by voters
John Fund writes this at the WSJ's Political Diary (emphasis added):
Justice Butler, in particular, had become the fulcrum for a new majority that seemed to embrace "junk" science in the courtroom. In one of its rulings, the court held that a lead paint manufacturer could be held liable for an injury even if the injured person had not been exposed to its products. In another case, it eliminated caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. . . .
As Fund notes:
The court now flips from a 4-to-3 liberal majority on most legal issues to a majority likely to be conservative at least for the next three years -- and perhaps much longer. . . .
A procedural move Monday killed a bill that would have allowed military veterans and others with firearms training to carry concealed weapons on campus.
The Senate Appropriations Committee was scheduled to hear House Bill 2513 on Wednesday, but the measure, which received nearly two-thirds support earlier this month in the House of Representatives, was not listed Monday on the agenda. Thursday is the deadline for bills to be passed out of Senate committees.
"The bottom line is it's dead,” said Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield, D-Ardmore, co-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
"Both of us decided we didn't want to hear it,” said Sen. Mike Johnson, R-Kingfisher, the other committee co-chairman.
President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan said legislators want to be sensitive of Oklahomans' Second Amendment rights, but "we've got to be practical.” . . . .
The bill was largely killed by former Senator and current president of the University of Oklahoma David Boren.
Fourteen presidents, several students and representatives of some campus police departments met Monday at the state Capitol to voice concerns about HB 2513, which they said would make campuses more dangerous. "Please, please, please put the safety of our students first,” said University of Oklahoma President David Boren.
He said in his 41 years of public service, he's never seen legislation "that would bring with it more unintended consequences that can lead to tragedy.”
FAIRFAX, Va. - Since the tragedy at Virginia Tech in April of 2007, the debate about whether students, teachers and faculty members should be allowed to carry guns on campus has received a lot of attention.
This week, that debate comes to George Mason University.
The College Republicans and Students for Concealed Carry will hold a symposium about gun ownership, personal safety and the rules for guns on campus. Monica Block, a junior and chairman of the organization, has been pushing for a policy change.
"If only the bad guys have guns, how are you going to protect yourself?"
GMU has a strict ban on guns and School Spokesman Dan Walsch says that is not likely to change. He says anyone not affiliated with the university who carries a gun on campus -- even with a permit -- will be asked to leave.
"There was a little ambiguity in our policy prior to Virginia Tech, and this hopefully helped erase any doubts as to where we are coming from."
There will be two gun advocates speaking on campus this week. Professor John Lott, author of "More Gun, Less Crime," will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday. . . .
University of Maryland senior research scientist John Lott Jr. says news coverage of the economy is slanted. Lott writes, "Over 78 percent more negative news stories discussed a recession when the economy — under a Republican president was soaring than occurred under a Democrat when the economy was shrinking."
Lott — who researched 12,500 newspaper and wire service articles from 1985 through 2004 — also found that Democratic presidents got positive headlines 15 percent more of the time than Republican presidents for the same economic news.
Of his findings Lott writes, "The media's focus on the negative side of everything surely helps explain people's pessimism... Indeed, research has indicated that media bias is real."
Everyone but felons Openly carrying gun not a crime By Bill Bush firstname.lastname@example.org Reporter The Columbus Dispatch March 30, 2008
"In the political tussle over Ohio's concealed-carry gun law, one fact seems to have been overlooked by many: You never needed a permit to carry a gun in public, and you still don't ... As long as you haven't been convicted of a felony --- you just can't conceal it ... But if you do, don't be surprised if you get some unwanted attention from police officers."
For nearly seven years, the nation has turned its terror focus on Al Qaeda and the hunt for Usama bin Laden. But there is a domestic terror threat that federal officials still consider priority No. 1 — eco-terrorism.
The torching of luxury homes in the swank Seattle suburb of Woodinville earlier this month served as a reminder that the decades-long war with militant environmentalists on American soil has not ended.
"It remains what we would probably consider the No. 1 domestic terrorism threat, because they have successfully continued to conduct different types of attacks in and around the country," said FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko.
The FBI defines eco-terrorism "as the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against innocent victims or property by an environmentally oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature." . . .
I did a Google news search on "Eco-Terrorism Domestic Terror Threat" and came up with only seven hits. Interesting that there weren't more for the top domestic terror threat, but I guess that the environment doesn't generate much interest.
Civilians handle minor duties for strapped police Departments under budget burdens hire outside help By Alan Gomez USA TODAY Page 3A
Facing tighter budgets, law enforcement agencies across the country are increasingly turning to civilians to respond to some calls that sworn officers and deputies are usually responsible for.
That means people calling 911 to report a traffic accident, a burglarized home or a stolen car may be greeted by a civilian in a polo shirt instead of a gun-toting officer.
"It hasn't been universally adopted throughout the country. But most areas have at least thought about the alternative and are more open to it now because of the economy," said Richard Brady, president of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Matrix Consulting Group that has worked with more than 250 law enforcement agencies.
The idea of using civilians, who require less training and are less expensive than sworn officers, to respond to minor police calls has been around since the late 1980s.
Brady said the practice died off for years as the economy improved and departments were augmented after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. . . .
During the 2000 election, with Bill Clinton as president, the economy was viewed through rose-colored glasses. According to polls, voters didn’t realize that the country was in a recession. Although the economy started shrinking in July 2000, most Americans through the entire year thought that the economy was fine.
But over the last half-year, the media and politicians have said we were in a recession even while the economy was still growing.
Gas prices are going up. The economy is slowing. Talk of recession is seemingly everywhere. While the majority of people rate their personal finances positively, consumer confidence in the economy has plunged to a 16-year low, well below what it was during the last year of the Clinton administration when we were in a recession.
A Nexis search on news stories during the three-month period from July 2000 through September 2000 using the keywords “economy recession US” produces 1,388. By contrast, the same search over just the last month finds 3,166. Or, even more telling, take the three months from July through September last year, when the GDP was growing at a phenomenal 4.9 percent. The same type of Google search shows 2,475 news stories. . . .
During his first run for elected office, Barack Obama played a greater role than his aides now acknowledge in crafting liberal stands on gun control, the death penalty and abortion– positions that appear at odds with the more moderate image he’s projected during his presidential campaign.
The evidence comes from an amended version of an Illinois voter group’s detailed questionnaire, filed under his name during his 1996 bid for a state Senate seat.
Late last year, in response to a Politico story about Obama’s answers to the original questionnaire, his aides said he “never saw or approved” the questionnaire.
They asserted the responses were filled out by a campaign aide who “unintentionally mischaracterize(d) his position.”
But a Politico examination determined that Obama was actually interviewed about the issues on the questionnaire by the liberal Chicago non-profit group that issued it. And it found that Obama – the day after sitting for the interview – filed an amended version of the questionnaire, which appears to contain Obama’s own handwritten notes adding to one answer. . . .
Consider the question of whether minors should be required to get parental consent – or at least notify their parents – before having abortion.
The first version of Obama’s questionnaire responds with a simple “No.”
The amended version, though, answers less stridently: “Depends on how young – possibly for extremely young teens, i.e. 12 or 13 year olds.” . . .
Both versions of the 1996 questionnaires provide answers his presidential campaign disavows to questions about whether Obama supports capital punishment and state legislation to “ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.”
He responded simply “No” and “Yes,” respectively, to those questions on both questionnaires. a fact sheet provided by his campaign flatly denies Obama ever held those views, . . . .
This is the Obama who I knew on guns. The Obama who I knew supported a ban on handguns. In one discussion that I had with Obama back in the mid-1990s, he told me that he didn't believe that people should be able to own guns. My recollection is that he didn't even limit his statement to handguns. He was unwilling to discuss the issue and the conversation simply stopped after he made the statement.
APOPKA -- A 6-foot, 200-pound bear has been perched high above a Central Florida neighborhood for hours Friday after it was chased up a tree by two 6-month-old kittens, FLORIDA TODAY news partner WKMG Local 6 News reports.
The stuck bear has kept homeowners living in the 1900 block of Votaw Road on edge Friday.
"(The bear) was out looking for a place to live and got startled and took refuge in the tree," Florida Fish and Wildlife worker Tom Shupe said.
Local 6 showed video of homeowners gathering around the home to see the animal hanging onto a branch.
Homeowners said two kittens chased the bear before it became stuck.
"(The kittens) had the bear just cornered at the fence and it saw the tree and just ran up the tree and has been there ever since," homeowner Jason Daniels said.
"It is not uncommon," Shupe said. "They are a very timid bear and very nonaggressive and quite often it is a little poodle or cat that chases them up a tree." . . .
Thanks very much to April for sending this link to me.
Clayton is running against an incumbent Republican in the primary, but from everything that I can tell he should have a reasonable chance in this race. The incumbent has some really bizarre votes to defend and has alienated much of the Republican state legislature. Clayton's campaign website is here. Please visit. For those interested in Clayton, he has another website where he regularly posts on a variety of issues.
So far Virginia Tech has spent $10.4 million in security revisions. These include, but are not limited to, the alert system which I, and many others I know, did not get on Tuesday's test, installing doors that cannot be chained shut, locking down the dorms even though they were locked when the incident took place last year, and adding 10 more officers to the Virginia Tech police, making the student to officer ratio 500:1 if all are on duty at once.
Last week as I heard the lists of defenses put in place and the manner of how a door locks, I recalled my World War II history.
In France there was the Maginot Line, a series of pillboxes and artillery placements connected by tunnel that ran the length of the border between Germany and France.
A defense so feared that the Germans simply went through the Arden forest in Belgium, going around the line and capturing Paris.
In some ways I wonder if we are creating our own Maginot line, building a set of defenses we feel is so strong that they will ward off any attacker.
The point I'm trying to make is that a lot of the new systems in place, which are all very good ideas, will act in the end act as only a buffer. . . .
A new study claims that "Cell Phones Could Be More Dangerous Than Cigarettes" in causing cancer. The claim is that it takes about 10 years for this to occur, but that cell phones can double the risk of brain cancer. Given the number of people using cell phones for a long time, one would think that the impact of this would have begun to show up. The Census Bureau claims that:
The number of cell phone subscribers in the United States reached approximately 159 million in 2003, up from 34 million in 1995, according to the latest edition of the national data book released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. . . .
But look at these numbers on brain cancer rates from the National Cancer Institute. Brain cancer rates have been flat for the last decade. If cell phones doubled brain cancer rates for those who used them, one would think you would see something in these numbers. The researcher may be correct about the direction, but the effect must be relatively small.
One possibly unrelated question that I have is: why is the brain cancer rate for whites so high relative to other groups?
Memphis, TN -- A car thief and home invasion robber is dead after a shootout with a homeowner in Hickory Hill.
Memphis police are investigating the homicide in the 3700 block of Hyacinth, near Winchester and Mendenhall.
Investigators say a man who had been breaking into cars on Hyacinth forced his way into a home around 2:30 a.m. Friday, March 28, 2008.
Once inside, the crook got into a gunfight with the homeowner. The intruder was killed and the homeowner was rushed to The Med with a gun shot wound. He is in non-critical condition and preparing to give police a statement.
Police did not know what motive the car thief had for breaking into the home. . . .
On Feb. 23 the Los Angeles Times reported: "In a victory for gun-rights advocates, the federal government is preparing to relax a decades-old ban on bringing loaded firearms into national parks.
"Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said Friday that his department would suggest new regulations by the end of April that could bring federal rules into line with state laws concerning guns in parks and public lands. ... Fifty ... senators ... from both parties have backed a drive to repeal the ban. ..."
Note the change would see federal authorities -- weirdly, given their almost universal insistence on federal pre-eminence -- allowing different rules in different states, deferring to states that disarm interstate travelers. This is akin to the federal government saying blacks and whites must be treated equally in the parks -- except in certain benighted Southern backwaters, where Uncle Sam will defer to local rednecks who prefer separate "white" and "colored" bathrooms, etc. . . .
Amazed how lucky I am that I have had jobs where I could just think about whatever I wanted to think about. I have published over 90 articles in academic journals. I received my Ph.D. in economics from UCLA in 1984.