Girls and guns graphic

Click on picture to make it larger.  I really wish that the references here were directly linked to the claims.  While some of these facts are obviously true (25% of permit holders in Michigan are women), there are others that I am more dubious about (e.g., 200 million firearms owned in US - I think that it is significantly higher) and still others that I would at least like to follow up (e.g., 83 percent increase in 2009 in women buying guns for personal protection).  Some numbers are pretty useless, such as the NSSF number that 74% of women in their classes by a handgun.  How many of them already owned a handgun or lived with someone else who did?  Finally, note that some numbers appear inconsistent with each other.  For example, 43% of women report household gun ownership, but the graphic below that shows that Democrats own guns at 23% and Republicans at 41%.  The implied average is clearly below that implied by the 43% (though it is possible that number is referring to personal ownership and not to household ownership).


Obama makes mistake about the Declaration of Independence

This seems like a fairly obvious mistake and one would have hoped that a speech writer would have picked this up.  The full speech is available from the White House website:
all in defense of those God-given rights that were first put to paper 236 years ago: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. . . .
Of course, Thomas Jefferson didn't think that this was the first time that these ideas were "put to paper."  The Declaration reads: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

CNS News notes:

"This was the object of the Declaration of Independence," Jefferson wrote in a letter to Henry Lee on May 8, 1825. "Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take.
"Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion," Jefferson told Lee. "All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c."


Forget Jonathan Gruber's promises that Obamacare would "for sure" lower health insurance costs

Remember Jonathan Gruber's crucial analysis that played such a central role in getting Obamacare passed?  Remember his promise that passage would greatly reduce health insurance costs?  He promised" "we know for sure the bill will do is that it will lower the cost of buying non-group health insurance."  Remember that this is the same guy who got paid about $400,000 from the Obama administration and failed to mention it in all the media that he did pushing Obamacare?  Well, as best as I can tell from Gruber's statements is that for some states that already have a lot of mandates, the cost of health insurance will pretty much stay the same, but in other states the cost will go up, often by a lot.  Of course, none of this includes the impact from the ban on pre-existing conditions exclusion.

Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute has the story here:

As states began the process of considering whether or not to set up the insurance exchanges mandated by the new health law, several retained Gruber as a consultant. In at least three cases—Wisconsin in August 2011, Minnesotain November 2011, and Colorado in January 2012—Gruber reported that premiums in the individual market would increase, not decrease, as a result of Obamacare.
In Wisconsin, Gruber reported that people purchasing insurance for themselves on the individual market would see, on average, premium increases of 30 percent by 2016, relative to what would have happened in the absence of Obamacare. In Minnesota, the law would increase premiums by 29 percent over the same period. Colorado was the least worst off, with premiums under the law rising by only 19 percent. . . .
"It is important to recognize some limitations in our modeling of prices. In particular, given publicly available data we cannot incorporate the effects of the ban on pre-existing conditions exclusions. . . . ."
Roy's piece is worth reading.

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Even FactCheck.org attacks Obama's false ads about Romney shipping jobs overseas

First, even if it were true that Romney saved companies by contracting out for some work to be done overseas, it wouldn't bother me. Suppose that you have two companies: one that is a completely foreign company and another American company that uses call centers and manufacturing facilities in other countries to produce its products. In the type of world that the Obama campaign lives in, their policies would drive the American company out of business. Would the Obama people rather have Americans designing the product and managing sales or a foreign company producing the product? Of course, one could have high tariffs that make it possible to produce the products profitably in the US, but consumers will get stuck with higher prices. Do the Obama people prefer that? On the one hand you have the Obama administration pushing free trade deals and on the other hand they are making these on companies contracting out services. In any case, all this is beside the point because despite multiple campaign ads, the Obama ads are completely false. A simple update on July 2nd summarizes the debate.
Late on July 1, the Obama campaign issued a formal objection to this article, claiming that Romney remained at least a “part time” manager of Bain after February 1999. We strongly disagree. Both Romney and Bain have stated repeatedly that Romney “has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way” since leaving to head the Olympics. Romney stated that twice on official federal disclosure documents, where a falsehood could draw a federal felony charge and possible fines and prison time if convicted. A contemporary news account describes Romney as working 16-hour days on the Olympics.
The FactCheck also deals with claims about Romney outsourcing as governor and Romney as a “corporate raider." They also have a new discussion entitled: "FactCheck to Obama Camp: Your Complaint is All Wet." The Obama campaign relies heavily on a Washington Post story for its claims, but even the WP Fact Checker was pretty tough on the Obama campaign:
Regarding the outsourcing claims, we have frowned on these before. The Obama campaign rests its case on three examples of Bain-controlled companies sending jobs overseas. But only one of the examples — involving Holson Burns Group — took place when Romney was actively managing Bain Capital. Regarding the other claims, concerning Canadian electronics maker SMTC Manufacturing and customer service firm Modus Media, the Obama campaign tries to take advantage of a gray area in which Romney had stepped down from Bain — to manage the Salt Lake City Olympics — but had not sold his shares in the firm. We had previously given the Obama campaign Three Pinocchios for such tactics. The Modus Media case is also not an example of shipping jobs overseas. The company closed one plant in California and transferred the jobs to North Carolina, Washington and Utah. At the same time, it opened an unrelated plant in Mexico. The Obama campaign once trumpeted the fact that we had dinged a conservative Super PAC for making the same leap in logic. The claim that Romney outsourced jobs as governor is equally overblown. . . .

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Obama administration blaming Fox News for class warfare rhetoric

My book Debacle has a discussion about the anti-business, class warfare rhetoric of the Obama administration and the attempts by the Obama administration to claim that isn't true. Now in this video we have a recording of a statement where a top WH advisor who says that the class warfare rhetoric is all due to Fox News.

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Obama backing away from newest claim that today's jobs report is a "step in the right direction"

Remember Obama's statement last month: “The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government."  Obama never really backed away from that comment.  After today's unemployment numbers, Obama claimed the jobs report is a "step in the right direction."

But at a stop Friday afternoon in Pittsburgh, his last on a two-day bus tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania, Obama dropped the line -- stressing instead the work that remains.
"We have been fighting back," Obama said. "But what we all understand is that we've got so much more to do. Too many of our friends and family members and neighbors are still out of work. Too many folks still are seeing their home property values under water."  . . .
The connection in both statements is that the private economy in Obama's mind is really doing fine. 

So should the tag for this post be to classify Obama's statements as misstatements (not really) or dishonest (probably).

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Newest Fox News piece: A disappointing jobs picture and no, we're not doing better than Europe

My piece starts this way:
Americans faced another disappointing jobs picture today. Of course, we could go through the numbers again. With the working age population growing by 191,000 last month, 80,000 more jobs doesn’t even come close to absorbing all these new workers, let alone employing those who have long been out of work. And then there’s the most important number of all: for 41 months, the unemployment rate has been above 8 percent.  

But how does the US labor market compare to Europe or the rest of the world?  Earlier this week news reports may have made Americans feel a little better, if only by comparison. Reflecting the philosophy that you should be thankful for what you have because things could always be worse, the headline in the Los Angeles Times read: “Think 8.2% unemployment is bad? It's a record 11.1% in Europe.”  An Associated Press article carried by Fox News and a host of other outlets made the same point.

The point has not been lost on President Obama, whose administration frequently references Europe as an explanation for our slow growth.  Last month, Obama noted: “slower growth in Europe means slower growth in American jobs.” 
The problem with such a seemingly obvious comparison is that the US and most of Europe define unemployment quite differently. . . .
A couple of other notes.

1) About a third of those 80,000 jobs are temporary service sector jobs.
2) 85,000 people went on disability in June.
3) Obama predicted that the unemployment rate now would be about 5.8% (January 10, 2009) and 6% (February 26, 2009 estimate).

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Comparing changes in Labor Force participation rates in Europe and the US

Click on figure to make it larger.

Euro Stat provides detailed data on both employment and the number of working age people.  Similar numbers are available from the US Bureau of Labor statistics.  Since the beginning of 2009, the labor force participation rate in the US has fallen by 3 percent.  

Euro Stat Employment-Unemployment Database
Euro Stat Employment statistics explained
Euro area unemployment rate at 11.1% June
Employment down by 0.2% in the euro area and stable in the EU27 June 


President violates oath and doesn't enforce the law, that is OK; State tries to help enforce federal law (which the Federal government doesn't have to deport or punish illegals), not OK

Charles Krauthammer as a useful piece in the Washington Post:

And there’s the rub: the Obama administration’s inability to distinguish policy from law. This becomes particularly perverse regarding immigration when, as Justice Antonin Scalia points out, what the administration delicately calls its priorities is quite simply a determination not to enforce the law as passed.
This is what makes so egregious the Obama claim that Arizona is impermissibly undermining federal law. “To say, as the court does,” writes Scalia regarding those parts of the law struck down by the majority, “that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the president declines to enforce boggles the mind.”
Consider this breathtaking cascade: An administration violates its constitutional duty to execute the law by deliberately refusing to enforce it. It then characterizes its non-enforcement as simply establishing priorities. It then tries to strike down a state law on immigration on the grounds that it contradicts federal law — by actually trying to enforce it! . . . 
The same is true with other issues.
Obama’s presumption is Olympian. He takes America into a war in Libya with U.N. approval but none from Congress. Yet that awful Bush had the constitutional decency to twice seek and gain congressional approval before he initiated hostilities. The Department of Health and Human Services issues Obamacare regulations treading so heavily on the free-exercise rights of Catholic institutionsthat Obama’s own allies rebel. The new regulation concocted to tame the firestorm blithely orders private insurers to provide free contraceptives to employees of the objecting religious institutions. By what possible authority does a president order private companies to provide free services? To say nothing of the 1,200 Obamacare waivers granted with royal arbitrariness according to the (political) whims of an HHS secretary. . . .
Strassel has this piece in the WSJ (the whole piece has lots of examples):
Put another way: Mr. Obama proposes, Congress refuses, he does it anyway. 
For example, Congress refused to pass Mr. Obama's Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for some not here legally. So Mr. Obama passed it himself with an executive order that directs officers to no longer deport certain illegal immigrants. This may be good or humane policy, yet there is no reading of "prosecutorial discretion" that allows for blanket immunity for entire classes of offenders. 
Mr. Obama disagrees with federal law, which criminalizes the use of medical marijuana. Congress has not repealed the law. No matter. The president instructs his Justice Department not to prosecute transgressors. He disapproves of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, yet rather than get Congress to repeal it, he stops defending it in court. He dislikes provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, so he asked Congress for fixes. That effort failed, so now his Education Department issues waivers that are patently inconsistent with the statute. 
Similarly, when Mr. Obama wants a new program and Congress won't give it to him, he creates it regardless. Congress, including Democrats, wouldn't pass his cap-and-trade legislation. His Environmental Protection Agency is now instituting it via a broad reading of the Clean Air Act. Congress, again including members of his own party, wouldn't pass his "card-check" legislation eliminating secret ballots in union elections. So he stacked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with appointees who pushed through a "quickie" election law to accomplish much the same. Congress wouldn't pass "net neutrality" Internet regulations, so Mr. Obama's Federal Communications Commission did it unilaterally. 
In January, when the Senate refused to confirm Mr. Obama's new picks for the NLRB, he proclaimed the Senate to be in "recess" and appointed the members anyway, making a mockery of that chamber's advice-and-consent role. In June, he expanded the definition of "executive privilege" to deny House Republicans documents for their probe into the botched Fast and Furious drug-war operation, making a mockery of Congress's oversight responsibilities. . . .


Despite huge government subsidies, the sales of electric cars are horrible

GM had predicted that there would be 45,000 sales of Volts this year.  Nissan had predicted sales of the leaf at 20,000.  Yet, during the first six months, only 8,817 were sold.  20 percent are being sold in California in part because of benefits such as being able to drive in the carpool lanes with only one person in the car.  But, even if the Volt sales are horrible, the Volt is outselling the all-electric Nissan Leaf by more than 3 to 1.

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Amazing statement from Professor Gerald Early defending Obama lying in his autobiography

See the discussion at 1:52 into the video. The written article that goes along with the video is at Fox News.

The Story presents more than three-dozen instances of material discrepancy where Dreams fails to align with the facts as Maraniss reports them. Case in point: Maraniss confirmed that Mr. Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, left his father, Barack Obama, Sr., a volatile bigamist, and not the other way around, as related in Dreams.
Dreams also related the tale of Obama's paternal grandfather, Hussein Onyango, who was said to have been detained and tortured in a prison outside Nairobi for six months because of his brave defiance of British colonialists. But after a half-dozen interviews and other research, Maraniss deemed the tale "unlikely." . . .
Gerald Early, a noted professor of English literature and African-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis, agreed. "It really doesn't matter if he made up stuff," Early told Fox News. "I mean, after all, it's like you going to a psychiatrist and you make up stuff, and the psychiatrist can still psychoanalyze you because they're your lies." . . .
told Maraniss that Obama had "greatly exaggerated" inDreams the details of another encounter between them. . . .

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Headline from The Economist magazine: "Charter schools raise educational standards for vulnerable children"

From the Economist magazine:
charter school performance is not so “mixed” if you look at the data on a state-by-state basis, rather than across the country as a whole. States with reading and maths gains that were significantly higher for charter-school students than in traditional schools included Arkansas, Colorado (Denver), Illinois (Chicago), Louisiana and Missouri. . . . Since 1993 15% of charter schools have shut their gates, most because of low enrolment, a sign that the market is working. . . .
The national results would seem to work a lot better if they used fixed geographic effects.


Richard Posner: “It’s not clear that we really need patents in most industries"

Knowing that Dick Posner doesn't believe in patents for most industries goes a long way to explaining his behavior in the case that he heard between Apple and Motorola.  Reuters did an interview with Posner:
Posner said some industries, like pharmaceuticals, had a better claim to intellectual property protection because of the enormous investment it takes to create a successful drug. . . .
Well, it is hard to see how one differentiates the theory of patents based on the size of the investment.  Whether it is five small investments or one large one the issue of encouraging investment and letting recoup their investments seems the same.  In any case, how much did Apple spend developing the iPhone?  It is hard to believe that your average drug involved a larger investment than the iPhone.  

Apple apparently began developing the ideas behind the iPhone when they original started working on the iPad.  It was: "A revolutionary UI, the result of years of development -- the result of years of development."   The interface development started in the "early 2000s."

If Posner doesn't want to let Apple patent the different component features, can he let them patent the phone itself?  Obviously not.  You have to patent the features.  The question Posner has to ask is whether we want more of these interface developments to occur. 


The lack of reality by the "Occupy Wall Street" movement

Here is a question: if this is an accurate view of the world, why is it that the US has the highest corporate income tax rate in the world?  Why do we have a rate that is about 5 percentage points higher than the next highest country?

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Obama administration's policy to make the military more hospitable to women

So much for the tradition of drill sergeants yelling at recruits.  From ABC News:
Part of the drill sergeants' evaluation focused on what they would do if a trainee refused to do as they were told. One drill sergeant tackled the scenario by simply saying "let's talk" and listening to the recruit and then providing mentoring. . . .

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News coverage of Unemployment in US and Europe fails to mention how unemployment is defined differently

From an Associated Press article in the Washington Post and Fox News on Monday: 
Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, said unemployment rose to 11.1 percent in May from 11 percent the previous month. . . . May’s unemployment rate compares badly with an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent in the United States and 4.4 percent in Japan, and is expected to rise further in the coming months as the eurozone economy is forecast to slide back into recession this year. . . .

Here is a headline from the San Jose Mercury News: Think 8.2% unemployment is bad? It's a record 11.1% in Europe.  The exact same headline has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times

The US definition of being unemployed is available at the BLS website.  But note that it is much easier to be defined as unemployed in Europe that the US.
the EU includes those who only study job advertisements as unemployed (if they pass the other screens)—this is true in Canada as well—while the United States does not consider reading ads as active job search. In addition, persons waiting to start a new job are considered unemployed in Europe, but in the United States they are not considered unemployed unless they have actively searched for work within the previous four weeks. . . .
The US BLS does provide adjusted unemployment numbers for some countries based upon how the US defines unemployment.  Take the comparison between the US and Canada, which has been studied fairly extensively.  If you look at the official numbers and ignore that Canada defines its unemployment rate more the way European countries do, it would look like the difference in unemployment rates in April was 0.8 percentage points.  In actuality, the gap was more than twice that, 1.7 percentage points.

In March, for example, the official French unemployment rate was 0.3% below what the BLS calculated the actual rate to be.  The difference for other countries that the BLS can't compare are likely to be much, much greater.  For those interested, the EuroStat EU unemployment data is available here.

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Obamacare already at 13,000 pages of regulations and they are just getting started

Well, this will certainly simplify health care.  From Fox News:
"Oh boy," Stan Dorn of the Urban Institute said. "HHS has a huge amount of work to do and the states do, too. . . ." The IRS, Health and Human Services and many other agencies will now write thousands of pages of regulations -- an effort well under way:
"There's already 13,000 pages of regulations, and they're not even done yet," Rehberg said. . . .
According to James Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, federal powers will include designing insurance plans, telling people where they can go for coverage and how much insurers are allowed to charge.
"Really, how doctors and hospitals are supposed to practice medicine," he said.
The health department is still writing regulations, which can be controversial in and of themselves. . . .

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Unbelievably, Obama still claiming that everyone can keep their current health insurance if they are happy with it

From Obama's remarks after the Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare:
"First, if you're one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance. This law will only make it more secure and more affordable." . . .
I only care about this because it shows that Obama simply won't admit the obvious to voters.  To believe that Obamacare will lower the costs of insurance means that Obama really doesn't think that profits motivate firms.  
Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive.  . . .  Because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults under the age of 26 are able to stay on their parent's health care plans -- a provision that's already helped 6 million young Americans.  And because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs -- a discount that's already saved more than 5 million seniors on Medicare about $600 each. . . .
If these changes really lowered costs, firms would have offered all these benefits on their own.  More misinformation on how insurance has actually worked.
They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions. . . .

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Any bets that the French will get a lot less than the amount of money they think that they are going to raise from taxes?

Tax competition means that some people will be leaving France.
David Cameron infuriated the French last month by promising Britain would "roll out the red carpet" to wealthy French citizens and companies who wanted to emigrate and pay their taxes in Britain. . . .
A 75 percent income rate and higher wealth and inheritance taxes will have consequences.

“I’m very happy in Paris. My wife and I love Paris. We came here by choice. But I’m reconsidering our situation given the changes in the pipeline,” says Roger, who declined to be identified by his real name.
More than the 75 per cent rate, it is a move to higher wealth and inheritance taxes that worries him – and what he perceives as a cultural hostility to the rich. “The anti-wealth rhetoric is just not encouraging. I’d rather be in a country where I don’t have to deal with that,” he says. . . .
“The question is how to achieve these goals? There is no example, in modern economic history, of a country that has succeeded in reducing its deficits by bringing taxes to a confiscatory level. On the contrary, it leads to a decline in activity, and an increase in the deficits.” . . .
“France is not isolated from the rest of the world and Paris needs to be competitive,” says Guillaume Poitrinal, chief executive of Unibail-Rodamco, the European shopping mall group based in Paris. “[Our] large companies provide business to small and medium-sized enterprises and are France’s best asset – they provide a large part of what’s left of economic growth today.
“I am sure that the government realises that if they are weakened vis a vis their competitors abroad, this would be a negative for employment, tax resources and economic growth.” . . . .

At least Hollande isn't a complete idiot.  Note how he is retroactively heavily taxing property owned by foreigners, that is at least if he can get away with it given the EU single market laws.  If he can get away with it, foreigners don't vote.
On Wednesday (July 4th), the French government announced it was to increase taxes on foreign-owned second homes. Tax on rental income would rise from 20 per cent to 35.5 per cent, and capital gains tax on property sales would rise from 19 per cent to 34.5 per cent. The extra in each case is being labelled a "social charge".
A Treasury source said on Wednesday night: "We will need to study the details. But we will of course challenge any proposal which breaches European single market laws and anti-discrimination rules." . . . 
The rise in tax on rental income will be retrospective, from Jan 1 this year. . . .

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To Obama government money comes out of thin air

Obama on June 1, 2012 in Golden Valley, MN: I assume there are some folks here who could use $3,000 a year. Let's get that done right now. That means they're going to be -- you know, if you have $3,000 a year extra, that helps you pay down your credit cards, that helps you go out and buy some things that your family needs, which is good for business. Maybe somebody will be replacing some thingamajig for their furnace. They've been putting that off. But if they got that extra money, they might just go out there and buy that thing, right? . . .
Obama fails to understand that the money has to come from someplace. If government takes the money from some people and gives to others, why will that increase total spending.  If you put your pay check in the bank, either you spend it on the mortgage or car or food or the bank buys bonds or lends out the money.  To believe the typical MPC argument you would have to believe that saving is the equivalent to throwing money in a hole in the backyard. 

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For only the fifth time in 33 years weekly wages have fallen over the last year

The BLS finds that weekly wages dropped over the year by 1.7 percent to $955 in the fourth quarter of 2011 from a high of $971 in the fourth quarter of 2010.

The U.S. average weekly wage decreased over the year by 1.7 percent to $955 in the fourth quarter of 2011. This is one of only five declines in the history of the series which dates back to 1978. (See Technical Note.) This is the only quarter in which the average weekly wage decline occurred while employment grew over the year and total wages decreased (-0.5 percent). Smaller bonus payments in the fourth quarter of 2011 contributed to the decrease in the average weekly wage. In contrast, the average weekly wage declines posted in the first two quarters of 2009 resulted from significant declines in both employment and wages. During this period, total wage declines were 5.0 percent or more, while employment losses were above 3.0 percent. In the fourth quarter of 2011, Olmsted, Minn., had the largest over-the-year decrease in average weekly wages with a loss of 21.3 percent. Within Olmsted, a total wage decline of $287.3 million (-29.1 percent) in the education and health services industry had the largest impact on the county’s decrease in average weekly wages. . . . 

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Defensive gun use by homeowner in Georgia


"Only 6 Percent of Americans Say Health Care is the Top U.S. Problem"

Remember this is before Obamacare actually goes into effect.  A new Gallup poll finds that only 6% of Americans think that health care is the most important policy problem in the country.

The other important finding is that satisfaction about the way that things are going in the US down to 20%.  Click here to see the details of the survey.

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Neat new iPhone app: Want to know down to the minute when it will start to rain and for how long it will last?

Click on picture to make it larger.



More Democrats turning on Obama

Democrats refusing to endorse Obama.

Another North Carolina Democrat is refusing to support President Obama's reelection effort. This time it's Rep. Larry Kissell.
"[H]e doesn’t plan to endorse Obama for re-election and isn’t sure he’ll attend his party’s national convention in Charlotte," McClatchy reports. "Kissell represents the 8th District, which runs from Mecklenburg County to Robeson County. Last year’s redistricting added heavily Republican areas of Rowan, Davidson and Randolph counties while removing thousands of Democratic voters in Charlotte and Fayetteville."
Matt Connelly, a regional spokesman for the Republican National Committee, remarks on Twitter: "Rep. Kissell's (D-NC) district ends 9 blocks away from Bank of America Stadium, but he isn't sure if he'll attend the DNC." . . .
Another example here. 

Hayden Rogers will join two other North Carolina congressional candidates in skipping the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and not endorsing President Obama.
"I have no plans to attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and will not be endorsing in the 2012 presidential race.” . . .
U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre in the state’s 7th District won’t attend or back the president and U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell in the 8th District is taking the same approach. . . .
Democrats not attending the Democrat National Convention. 

Add Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar to the growing list of Democrats who are skipping the Democratic National Convention this summer.The moderate Democrat backs President Barack Obama’s reelection but told POLITICO on Tuesday he won’t be attending the convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September. . . .
Among those sitting this convention out are Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, as well as Reps. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, Mark Critz of Pennsylvania and Jim Matheson of Utah.
Rep. Stephen Lynch and Rep. Richard Neal, both of Massachusetts
, will be staying home as well, the Springfield (Mass.) Republican reported.
The explanation offered by Democrats.

"If the president were that popular with the voters, the Democrats in Missouri, she would want to be at the convention. She would want to be in that picture," Mitchell said to Mayor Villaraigosa.
Villaraigosa: "We're going to have thousands of people, the vast majority of Democratic elected officials who are delegates are going to be there. I think it's a lot about nothing. At the end of the day, she's campaigning. I think that's probably true for Senator Manchin (D-WV) and yes, it's true, in some states we have a lot of work to do. That's what campaigns are all about. I expect that the convention will frame the campaign. That's what people will be watching and it's going to be a very close election but ultimately I expect the president to win." 


More news on Eric Holder and Fast and Furious

Holder claims (7/3/12): "I've become a symbol of what they don't like about positions this Justice Department has taken . . . I am also a proxy for the president in an election year. You have to be exceedingly naive to think that vote was about documents."

Ethics complaint filed against Holder with DC bar.  I probably would have waited until the 10 days that Holder is given to file were up (7/3/12):
While District of Columbia courts have not (yet) been involved, there is no question that the Congress has found the Attorney General guilty of contempt under conditions that rise to your definition of ‘serious crime’,” the letter reminds the board. “It would also appear that Attorney General Holder is required to report the contempt finding to you within the ten day requirement, and that the Bar ‘shall’ investigate this matter.  Eric Holder believes that he will escape serious consequences of the congressional investigations of the Fast and Furious scandal simply by running out the clock on his tenure,” Vanderboegh noted in his report. “We intend this ethics complaint to place him on notice that his lies and malfeasances will follow him until justice is done.”
An old issue that I shouldn't have let pass.  BATF retaliates against whistleblowers (6/23/11).
"ATF served Special Agent Vince Cefalu with termination paperwork today."

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New paper published in the University of Maryland Law Review examining research on concealed carry

My newest paper entitled "WHAT A BALANCING TEST WILL SHOW FOR RIGHT-TO-CARRY LAWS" is available here.  The paper summarizes the research on concealed carry laws and discusses United States District Court Judge Benson Legg’s decision to strike down Maryland’s requirement of a “good and substantial reason” for issuance of a handgun permit in Woollard v. Sheridan (No. L-10-2068, 2012 WL 695674 (D. Md. Mar. 2, 2012)).


How to make the US much poorer: Military “green fuel” costs nearly seven times more than conventional fuel

US military spends a lot on fuel.
Last year, the U.S. military spent approximately $15 billion on fuel for its operations . . .
OK, so the solution is to buy something that costs seven times more?  From Fox News.

The Navy is steaming ahead with an initiative to power ships with biofuel, despite criticism the so-called “green fuel” costs nearly seven times more than conventional fuel.
This month marks the first time the Navy is using biofuel in an operational setting -- sending five ships to a multi-nation exercise off the coast of Hawaii.
A Navy official told FoxNews.com on Monday that sailing the so-called “Great Green Fleet” this month on the 50-50 blend of alternative and conventional fuel is part of Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ plan to have half the Navy fleet on alternative fuel by 2020.
The spokesman also confirmed the fuel -- which does not require engine modifications -- costs $26 a gallon compared to $3.60 a gallon for conventional fuel.
However, he pointed out the cost was for a one-day supply and that prices will drop when the Pentagon, among the country’s biggest fuel users, buys more.
Capitol Hill Republicans have been among the biggest critics of the plan -- questioning the fuel's cost and President Obama's alternative-energy initiatives as either not ready or too expensive for the marketplace.
They point to the government-funded Solyndra solar panel company going bankrupt as a cautionary tale.
"I don't believe it's the job of the Navy to be involved in building ... new technologies. I don't believe we can afford it," said Arizona Sen. John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, according to Reuters. . . .
Sure there are concerns about oil supply reductions during a war, but the price of oil already incorporates that risk, or at least the part of that risk that isn't interfered with by the threat of government price controls.  The current price is the future expected price.  So that gives you an idea of what the costs of storing oil might be.  The cost of storing oil per barrel in 1985 was $1.3/barrel/year (p. 27).  In today's dollars, that is about $2.60/barrel/year.

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Bruce Barlett's Keynesian claims in the New York Times

Bruce Bartlett wrote this in the New York Times.

Republicans have been warning about the loss of jobs from cuts in military spending for some time. At a hearing last October, the House Armed Services Committee chairman,Howard P. McKeon, a California Republican, said, “Defense cuts are certainly a path to job loss.” The committee’s blog often highlights the loss of jobs from military spending cuts. . . .
Historically, economists have believed that government consumption and investment spending has the same impact on jobs and growth whether it’s for military or domestic purposes. As Paul Samuelson, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist, put it in his best-selling economics text: “There is nothing special about G spending on jet bomber and intercontinental missiles that leads to a larger multiplier support of the economy than would other kinds of G expenditure.” . . . .
World War II ended the Great Depression. . . . .
Indeed, some economists have argued that military spending has in fact been the primary vehicle through which Keynesian economics has operated during the postwar era. The reason is that conservatives who routinely denounce government always give a pass to military spending. . . .
It is clear in today’s world that national defense does not consist only of bombs and rockets. Adequate public infrastructure, a well-trained labor force that can produce soldiers capable of operating high-tech weaponry, and a strong economy are as important as the traditional tools of war, or more so.

This strong Keynesian claim by him is very disappointing.  I wrote this on Bruce's Facebook page.
Bruce, what is all this Keynesianism that you are pushing these days?  Do you really believe that government spending increases wealth?  Don't you acknowledge that the money has to come from someplace else?  Why does moving money from where you and I would have spent it to where the government would spend it increases wealth?  Are you going to make some Keynesian claim about different marginal propensity to consume?  Don't you recognize that all the money people have is essentially spent?  If you put your pay check in the bank, either you spend it on the mortgage or car or food or the bank buys bonds or lends out the money.  To believe the typical MPC argument you would have to believe that saving is the equivalent to throwing money in a hole in the backyard.  I thought that the writing here is a bit overstated. "Republicans have been warning . . . Historically, economists have believed . . . ."  Have you heard of Milton Friedman?  All Republicans?  Why such categorical statements?



When unemployment insurance payments run out, people start claiming disability payments

One reason why unemployment is worse than many people think.  From CNS:

A record of 8,733,461 workers took federal disability insurance payments in June 2012according to the Social Security Administration. That was up from 8,707,185 in May.
It also exceeds the entire population of New York City, which according to the Census Bureau's latest estimatehit 8,244,910 in July 2011. . . . 



If John Roberts changed his position on Obamacare to protect the court from being called political, the initial polls are not encouraging

It is possible that the Supreme Court's approval rating would have fallen anyway as the Obama administration and Democrats would have savaged them if they struck down Obamacare, but this can't be encouraging.  From Rasmussen Reports:
Public opinion of the Supreme Court has grown more negative since the highly publicized ruling on the president’s health care law was released. A growing number now believe that the high court is too liberal and that justices pursue their own agenda rather than acting impartially.
week ago,  36% said the court was doing a good or an excellent job. That’s down to 33% today. However, the big change is a rise in negative perceptions. Today, 28% say the Supreme Court is doing a poor job. That’s up 11 points over the past week. . . .
Thirty-seven percent (37%) now believe the Supreme Court is too liberal, while 22% think it's too conservative. A week ago, public opinion was much more evenly divided:  32% said it was too liberal and 25% said too conservative. . . .
Jan Crawford at CBS is someone who I have met and I think that she comes across as quite credible.  She claims to have two well placed sources who say that Roberts changed his position as a result of outside pressure on the court.
Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court's four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama's health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law, according to two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations.
Roberts then withstood a month-long, desperate campaign to bring him back to his original position, the sources said. Ironically, Justice Anthony Kennedy - believed by many conservatives to be the justice most likely to defect and vote for the law - led the effort to try to bring Roberts back to the fold.
"He was relentless," one source said of Kennedy's efforts. "He was very engaged in this."
But this time, Roberts held firm. And so the conservatives handed him their own message which, as one justice put it, essentially translated into, "You're on your own." . . .
Some of the conservatives, such as Justice Clarence Thomas, deliberately avoid news articles on the Court when issues are pending (and avoid some publications altogether, such as The New York Times). They've explained that they don't want to be influenced by outside opinion or feel pressure from outlets that are perceived as liberal.
But Roberts pays attention to media coverage. As Chief Justice, he is keenly aware of his leadership role on the Court, and he also is sensitive to how the Court is perceived by the public.
There were countless news articles in May warning of damage to the Court - and to Roberts' reputation - if the Court were to strike down the mandate. Leading politicians, including the President himself, had expressed confidence the mandate would be upheld. . . . .
The funny thing is that while the liberals on the court talk about giving respect to legislative decisions, it is clear that they only give respect to decisions by liberal legislatures.  For example, the court just recently struck down a decision to give life sentences without parole to juveniles who commit especially heinous acts of murder.  The court had previously struck down the death penalty for 17 year olds, and states moved to have life in prison. Now that has been struck down.  

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The pointlessness of gun buyback programs

There is a reason that researchers don't find that gun buyback programs reduce crime.  1) Most of the guns sold don't work. 2) It is possible that the gun buyback programs actually allow those giving up the guns to buy money to buy working guns.  3) The gun buyback program can actually help criminals get rid of guns that they have used in crime and to get rid of them in a way that allows them to make some money off them.

There is a recent example in Chicago that illustrates these points.  I wonder how much money gun dealers have made from these buyback programs over the years.  From the Chicago Sun Times:

Sixty of the guns and several BB guns were turned in by the Champaign-based Guns Save Life. In return, the group received $6,240 in gift cards, said John Boch, president of the group. . . .
Most of the money will go toward buying ammunition for an NRA youth camp in Bloomington. The rest will pay for four bolt-action rifles that will be given away to campers. . . .
Vandermyde said he’s heard that gun-shop owners also have used the annual gun turn-in for profit.
Vandermyde said he was told one suburban gun dealer imported junk rifles for less than $50 each and received $100 gift cards for each of them.
“It’s comical,” he said.
But the city doesn’t think so.
“We host the gun turn-in event on an annual basis to encourage residents to turn in their guns so we can take guns off the street and it’s unfortunate that this group is abusing a program intended to increase the safety of our communities,” said Melissa Stratton, a police spokeswoman.
Boch said he doesn’t think the crooks who have pushed the number of Chicago’s homicides to 38 percent over last year’s total are the ones handing over their weapons.
“If you were a criminal, you would be a fool to go there with the police presence,” he said. “What criminal would turn in the tool he uses to do his trade for a $100 card?” . . .
It should be noted that the police broke their promise not to ask where the guns came from in the Guns Save Life group's case.

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