6/28/2008

Radio from after Supreme Court Decision

Appearance on Jason Lewis' show from Thursday is available here.

Appearnace on Roger Hedgecock's show is here.

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6/27/2008

"Judge Advises Crime VictimTo Arm Herself After Attack"

The Chattanoogan (TN) wrote:

General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon said Friday that crime in Chattanooga "has become so rampant that it is no longer possible for the police department to protect our citizens."

He told a woman who had been pulled from her car and beaten in the head that she or her mother needed to "purchase a weapon, obtain a gun permit and learn to protect yourself." The woman moved back in with her mother after the May 4 incident on E. 17th Street.

Judge Moon said, "The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that all citizens have a right to purchase a weapon to defend themselves, their families and their homes - unless there is some disqualification that prevents them from owning a weapon.

He said, "All area of our city are subject to crime, and some areas have very high crime rates and need to be 'overpoliced.'" . . .

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An endorsement of More Guns, Less Crime

Tom Delay writes:

A great book is John Lott’s More Guns Less Crime. He digs into the real statistics and the psychological profiles of criminals who prey on those who are the least likely to defend themselves. It’s disgusting, but what’s even worse is a government that forces you to rely on their public services – meaning the cops who take 30 minutes to show up, if at all – as your first line of defense. . . .

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6/26/2008

Life survived direct hit by massive asteroid

Life is apparently a lot more resilient than many seem to think:

The true impact of an asteroid or comet crashing near the Chesapeake Bay 35 million years ago has been examined in detail for the first time. The analysis reveals the resilience of life in the aftermath of disaster. . . .


I doubt that man has done anywhere near the destruction of such an asteroid.

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Some comments

Clayton Cramer


From Scalia's brief:

the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right. The handgun ban amounts to a prohibition of an entire class of “arms” that is overwhelmingly chosen by American society for that lawful purpose. The prohibition extends, moreover, to the home, where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute. Under any of the standards of scrutiny that we have applied to enumerated constitutional rights, banning from the home “the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family,” 478 F. 3d, at 400, would fail constitutional muster. . . .

It is no answer to say, as petitioners do, that it is permissible to ban the possession of handguns so long as the possession of other firearms (i.e., long guns) is allowed. It is enough to note, as we have observed, that the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon. There are many reasons that a citizen may prefer a handgun for home defense: It is easier to store in a location that is readily accessible in an emergency; it cannot easily be redirected or wrestled away by an attacker; it is easier to use for those without the upper-body strength to lift and aim a long gun; it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police. Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.

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Mayor Fenty: "semiautomatic handguns generally remain illegal"

Heller: DC gun ban struck down

See this link here.

6/25/2008

Media for tomorrow

All the media will be focusing on the Supreme Court decision on the DC gun ban. The decision is supposed to be released at around 10 AM.
1) Kirby Wilbur on KVI in Seattle 10:30 AM EDT
2) Mike Gallagher National 10:45 AM EDT
3) Chair a panel on "Time, Mortality, and Quality of Life" at the Society of Benefit Cost Analysis from 11 to 12:15 PM.
4) Jim PARISI, 790 KNST Tucson, AZ at 12:35 PM EDT.
5) “Tom Sullivan Show,” National, 2 PM EDT
6) Ron Smith, WBAL Baltimore, 3:05 to 3:15 AM EDT.
7) Kresta in the Afternoon, National, 4 PM to 4:15 PM EDT
8) Jason Lewis, KTLK, undetermined time, some time between 5:20 PM EDT.
9) Jerry Johnson Live, National, Criswell radio network, 6:15 to 6:30 PM EDT
10) Roger Hedgecock Show, San Diego, 6:35 to 6:45 PM EDT
11) Rusty Humphries, National, 9:15 PM EDT.
12) “Alan Colmes Show,” National, 10:15 PM EDT

Friday
1) The Lee Rodgers Show , KSFO, 9:35AM EDT.

Monday
1) Steve Malzberg , WOR, 4:30 PM EDT.

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Dilemma for Democrat's Convention: Going either for Union or Green Products

This story in the WSJ is pretty amusing. Of course, I hope that there are caps made that are neither union nor organic cotton.

The host committee for the Democratic National Convention wanted 15,000 fanny packs for volunteers. But they had to be made of organic cotton. By unionized labor. In the USA.

Official merchandiser Bob DeMasse scoured the country. His weary conclusion: "That just doesn't exist."

Ditto for the baseball caps. "We have a union cap or an organic cap," Mr. DeMasse says. "But we don't have a union-organic offering."

Much of the hand-wringing can be blamed on Denver's Democratic mayor, John Hickenlooper, who challenged his party and his city to "make this the greenest convention in the history of the planet." . . . .


Unfortunately, the Republicans are also misguided, though not as misguided as Democrats.

Republicans are pushing conservation, too, as they gear up for their convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Like the Democrats, they're cutting down on printing by doing as much work as possible by email; using recycled office furniture; and urging employees to walk or take public transportation to work. The Republicans also encourage vendors to be as environmentally friendly as possible. . . .


However, this has to be one of the more bizarre edicts:

No fried food. And, on the theory that nutritious food is more vibrant, each meal should include "at least three of the following colors: red, green, yellow, blue/purple, and white." (Garnishes don't count.) At least 70% of ingredients should be organic or grown locally, to minimize emissions from fuel burned during transportation. "One would think," says Mr. Burns, "that the Democrats in Denver have bigger fish to bake -- they have ruled out frying already -- than mandating color-coordinated pretzel platters."

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Case to overturn Florida law letting employees with permits to keep guns in locked cars in company parking lots

The AP reports:

The Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida Retail Federation contend the law violates the rights of businesses to control what happens on their property. They also say it conflicts with a federal occupational safety law. . . .


The first reason seems silly. I wish that the Chamber argument was correct, but governments tell businesses how to use their property ALL THE TIME. The second reason is more troublesome, but this the entire reason that state laws are needed to offset the federal regulations that in this case endanger safety.

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Striking Down the Death Penalty Again: PATRICK KENNEDY, PETITIONER v. LOUISIANA

Today the Supreme Court struck down the death penalty of child rape. Alito's response can be found here. The biggest problem with the Court's reasoning is that you could never adopt a new use for the death penalty because even if it were very popular, it would take some years to get the new law adopted. From Kennedy's decision:

Evolving standards of decency must embrace and express respect for the dignity of the person … When the law punishes by death, it risks its own sudden descent into brutality, transgressing the constitutional commitment to decency and restraint. . . .


The "commitment to decency"? What about the commitment to stopping brutality? What about the commitment to decency for what would otherwise be future victims?

From Alito's dissent:

Finally, the Court argues that statistics about the number of executions in rape cases support its perception of a “national consensus,” but here too the statistics do not support the Court’s position. The Court notes that the last execution for the rape of a child occurred in 1964, ante, at 23, but the Court fails to mention that litigation regarding the constitutionality of the death penalty brought executions to a halt across the board in the late 1960’s. In 1965 and 1966, there were a total of eight executions for all offenses, and from 1968 until 1977, the year when Coker was decided, there were no executions for any crimes.6 The Court also fails to mention that in Louisiana, since the state law was amended in 1995 to make child rape a capital offense, prosecutors have asked juries to return death verdicts in four cases. . . .

A major theme of the Court’s opinion is that permitting the death penalty in child-rape cases is not in the best interests of the victims of these crimes and society at large. In this vein, the Court suggests that it is more painful for child-rape victims to testify when the prosecution is seeking the death penalty. Ante, at 32. The Court also argues that “a State that punishes child rape by death may remove a strong incentive for the rapist not to kill the victim,” ante, at 35, and may discourage the reporting of child rape, ante, at 34–35.

These policy arguments, whatever their merits, are simply not pertinent to the question whether the death penalty is “cruel and unusual” punishment. . . .

In summary, the Court holds that the Eighth Amendment categorically rules out the death penalty in even the most extreme cases of child rape even though: (1) This holding is not supported by the original meaning of the Eighth Amendment ; (2) neither Coker nor any other prior precedent commands this result; (3) there are no reliable “objective indicia” of a “national consensus” in support of the Court’s position; (4) sustaining the constitutionality of the state law before us would not “extend” or “expand” the death penalty; (5) this Court has previously rejected the proposition that the Eighth Amendment is a one-way ratchet that prohibits legislatures from adopting new capital punishment statutes to meet new problems; (6) the worst child rapists exhibit the epitome of moral depravity; and (7) child rape inflicts grievous injury on victims and on society in general.


I can come up with nonconstitutional reasons for not having the death penalty for rape, but the death penalty itself is explicitly mentioned in the constitution. That is the reason the majority in this case has to rely on a living constitution that includes "Evolving standards" of decency.

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National Post (Canada) op-ed: Handgun bans don't cut crime

The entire piece can be found here:

Handgun bans don't cut crime
John R. Lott, Jr., National Post
Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Banning handguns is all the rage. Mayor David Miller's push for a national ban has been joined by other Canadian big-city mayors. Yet, dissatisfied with progress at the national level, Miller successfully asked city council this week to approve measures to further discourage gun ownership in Toronto, such as shutting down city-owned gun ranges.

While it may seem obvious to many people that banning handguns will save lives and cut crime, the experience in the United States suggests differently. Two major U. S. cities -- Washington, D.C., and Chicago --have tried banning handguns. (The U. S. Supreme Court is soon expected to release a ruling on the D.C. ban.) . . .

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Another shooting in a gun free zone

A lot of information besides that key fact can be found here:

HENDERSON, Ky. — An employee shot and killed four people at a plastics plant before killing himself early Wednesday, police said.

The shooting happened after an employee at Atlantis Plastics had an argument with a supervisor, Henderson police Lt. David Piller said.

In addition to the four deaths, Piller said two others, who were injured, were flown to hospitals in Evansville, Ind.

The employee used a handgun he retrieved during a break, Piller said. . . .

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6/24/2008

Republicans in Congress prevent passage of Price Gouging Bill

Enough Republicans hung in there to prevent passage of massive criminal penalties for oil companies engaged in so-called price gouging.

Following a White House veto threat, the House of Representatives on Tuesday failed to passed legislation giving the Federal Trade Commission the authority to punish oil companies that charged excessive prices for gasoline during supply emergencies.

The vote was 276-to-146 in favor of the bill, falling short of winning the two-thirds "yes" votes necessary to clear the chamber.

Under the legislation, companies could have been fined up to $150 million for gouging consumers at the pump and individuals faced a fine of up to $2 million and a 10-year prison term. . . .


Here is what is defined as "price gouging" involving gasoline.

It shall be unlawful for any person to sell, at wholesale or at retail in an area and during a period of an energy emergency, gasoline or any other petroleum distillate covered by a proclamation issued under paragraph (2) at a price that--
(A) is unconscionably excessive; and
(B) indicates the seller is taking unfair advantage of the circumstances related to an energy emergency to increase prices unreasonably.


That should be very clear. All the companies have to do is keep their prices below an "unconscionably excessive" level. If someone knows what that means, could you please drop me a line?

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Latest market predictions for presidential election

The Iowa Electronic Markets predict that Obama has a 62 percent change of winning and McCain is at 38 percent.

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Chicago wasn't always this way, life before the handgun ban

Crime, Guns, and Videotape has a discussion here:

Chicago Was Not Always So Miserable To Gun Owners.
While I was growing up in Chicago guns were not contraband, gun registration was neither mandatory nor taxed. The city had many gun stores and sporting goods stores that sold guns.

Concealed carry was something the ward organizations doled out, not by a simple permit but with a star and the full police powers of a Cook County Deputy Sheriff.

In high school I had my own .22 rifle I carried on a CTA bus on days of ROTC rifle practice. Today that behavior would make any high school kid a national and infamous celebrity. . . .

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What passes for "reasonable" gun control in California

If you want an idea of the costs imposed on gun companies by state regulations, the new California rules for selling guns that will be going into effect shortly will give you some idea. This is just a very small part of the regulations that one must deal with in selling guns in California.

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George Carlin on the Environmental Movement

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George Carlin on the Differences between Baseball and Football

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6/23/2008

Did the Journal of the Political Economy make a serious mistake in accepting a paper?

John Palmer has an extremely lengthy excerpt from an investigative report on a paper on file sharing that was published by the JPE (for a previous post see here). This discussion involves a case where the editor was apparently told about severe data errors in the piece before publication, told that the authors were unwilling to share their data before publication and have still refused to do so (coming out with multiple conflicting reasons for not doing this), and questions about whether the rejection of a comment pointing out the data errors was done properly. When told that there was improper behavior with the data the editor's response was interpreted by Stan Liebowitz to mean this: "There appears to be no way within the profession to adjudicate such claims. In fact, the profession tends to operate as if all economists are truthful all the time."

Craig Newmark has his comments here. Peter Klein has comments here, who classifies this under the general category of "Academic Journal Fakery." Other posts here (Paul Walker) and here ("provocateurjim") also draw concerns over what happened in this case.

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Speculation: Did Scalia write the Heller decision?

The speculation circulating around Washington is that Scalia wrote the Heller v. DC decision. That speculation is based upon the fact that Scalia has supposedly not authored any of the decisions this term. (I haven't even checked this claim.) If this is true, it would presumably bode very well for the decision. I guess that the next question is: when will the decision come out (Wednesday or Thursday)?

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Texas push for open carry

The Houston Chronicle has this story:

FORT WORTH — Despite the Lone Star State's love affair with the gun, there's at least one firearms restriction that some Texans want lifted.

Texas is just one of six states in which handguns can't be worn in plain view. The other 44 states, in the parlance of gun advocates, are known as "open-carry" states.

More than 3,500 people have signed an online petition asking Gov. Rick Perry and the Legislature to permit Texans to wear their handguns without concealing them. . . .


I guess that I don't have much more to add about open carry than I wrote previously. There are important benefits from carrying guns concealed, though I understand people's desire to make a statement and try to change other's views on guns. Prior to pushing for open carry, I would lower the fees and training requirements for people carrying concealed handguns.

Thanks to Scott Davis for sending me this link.

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New Op-ed at Fox News: Why Political Flip-Flopping Matters

My newest op-ed at Fox News can be read in full here:

What restrains politicians and businesses from acting dishonestly? A lot of people would answer: nothing.

Periodic political and corporate scandals have created a popular image of politicians and businessmen as little more than a collection of cheats, liars and crooks. However, while there will always be some dishonest people in any profession, the vast majority of American politicians and businessmen do not end up being frog marched out of their offices in handcuffs with their heads held low in shame before a gaggle of news cameras.

What helps keep companies honest is the threat that if they cheat customers, people won’t buy from them again. But that won’t work for politicians. Politicians don’t always have the incentive of re-election because eventually they all face a last term in office. Politicians retire at some point. They can’t live forever.

So, if it isn't the threat of facing the voters, what could ensure that politicians keep their promises?

There has been a lot academic work studying this question, and the way to solve the problem is to elect politicians who inherently value the policy positions that they take. . . . .

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6/22/2008

Czechs' Overwhelmingly Favour Death Penalty

The results of the CVVM survey are discussed here:

The number of people who support the death penalty has increased in the Czech Republic, according to a poll by CVVM. 62 per cent of respondents think the practice should be allowed in the country, up four points since June 2007. . . .

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First the California Supreme Court wrote its own laws regarding marriage and overturned a ballot initiative, now the court might stop the new vote

The Associate Press writes:

Gay rights advocates seek to stop marriage measure
By LISA LEFF – 1 day ago
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Gay rights advocates asked California's highest court Friday to keep off the November ballot a citizens' initiative that would again ban same-sex marriage.
Lawyers for Equality California filed a petition arguing that the proposed amendment to the California Constitution should be invalidated because its impact was not made clear to the millions of voters who signed petitions to qualify the measure before the state Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions.
"This court has recognized that gay and lesbian couples have a fundamental right to marry and, as of June 16, such couples have been getting married across the state," the petition states.
"Rather than effecting 'no change' in existing California law, the proposed initiative would dramatically change existing law by taking that fundamental right away and inscribing discrimination based on a suspect classification into our state Constitution."
The petition also claims the so-called California Marriage Protection Act should be disqualified because it would revise, rather than amend, the state Constitution by altering its fundamental guarantee of equality for all — in essence writing a law the state high court has already found unconstitutional into the constitution. . . .


I wonder if the court is more likely to remove the amendment from the ballot if it looks like it will pass.

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Congress may have low poll numbers, but most don't know that they control Senate

While 71 percent know that Pelosi is a Democrat, only 40 percent know that Senator Harry Reid is also a Democrat. Of course, it is amazing to me that only 71 percent know that Pelosi is a Democrat. The Rasmussen poll reports:

Seventy-one percent (71%) of American voters know that Nancy Pelosi is a Democrat, but most don’t know enough about other Congressional leaders to even hazard a guess. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey found that only 13% of voters had never heard of Pelosi, the first woman to ever serve as Speaker of the House and the highest ranking Democrat in government today.

However, 32% have never heard of Pelosi’s counterpart in the United States Senate, Harry Reid. Another 20% don’t know if he’s a Republican or Democrat while 40% correctly identified him as belonging to the same party as Pelosi and Barack Obama.
Forty-five percent (45%) have never heard of Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader. Another 29% can’t guess at which party he belongs to but 22% identify him correctly as a Republican.

The Republican leader in the House, John Boehner, is even less well known to the nation at large. Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters have never heard of him while 27% don’t know his party affiliation. Sixteen percent (16%) correctly identified Boehner as a Republican.


The Republicans might think about talking about the Democratically controlled congress more often.

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60 Percent of Brits question Man-made Global Warming

From the Guardian:

Ipsos MORI polled 1,039 adults and found that six out of 10 agreed that 'many scientific experts still question if humans are contributing to climate change', and that four out of 10 'sometimes think climate change might not be as bad as people say'. In both cases, another 20 per cent were not convinced either way. Despite this, three quarters still professed to be concerned about climate change.

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Cities abroad where Americans get arrested

This list, while interesting, is not particularly useful since it doesn't tell us anything about the rate that Americans are arrested in these different cities. Presumably more Americans visit Mexico than other countries, so it is not too surprising that more Americans are arrested there. Tijuana is an obvious example of that. Tijuana and Nuevo Laredo are the closest to the US and they rank first and third in terms of the most arrests. Presumably it has the most visitors. The question is if the rate is higher and this information doesn't tell us that. The article is here:

Over 2,500 Americans are arrested abroad annually. More than 30% of these arrests are drug related. Over 70% of drug related arrests involve marijuana or cocaine.

If getting arrested is your measure of trouble, the answer is Mexico. More specifically, it’s Tijuana, followed by Guadalajara, Nuevo Laredo and, across the Atlantic, London.

That’s the upshot of a new tally by the U.S. State Department tracking arrests of Americans abroad.

Police in the sprawling border town,Tijuana, arrested 520 Americans in 2006, more so than any other city on the planet. . . .

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