8/11/2012

Paul Ryan, avid hunter

According to Wired to Hunt:
Now regardless of your political leanings, wouldn’t it be nice to see a hardcore deer hunter in the White House? Not only is Ryan a deer hunter, but he’s a good one too! In fact he has also been a member of the Quality Deer Management Association for 9 years as well. In a New York Times article, when asked about his favorite reading he responded, ” What I look forward to reading the most is Quality Whitetails Journal. It’s from the Quality Deer Management Association and gives insight on deer biology and habitat stewardship. I was planting clover this past weekend at my mom’s place in a rural part of Wisconsin. Yes, deer like to eat clover.” 
According to a recent FOX News article, “Ryan, while not a lock, is seen as a natural complement in a GOP ticket that has Romney as the Harvard-educated financier at top and Ryan, who rose from working-class roots to chairman of the House Budget Committee, as a running mate. Ryan’s deficit-slashing budget proposals have helped make him a rising GOP star.” . . .

Bloomberg Businessweek goes after Paul Ryan on gun control issues here:
It’s that last position that could become a flashpoint in the presidential race. The concealed-carry reciprocity bill Ryan supported passed the House last year before Democrats in the Senate stopped it. The legislation would allow a Virginia resident with a permit to tote her Glock in a belt holster or pocketbook when she goes sightseeing in New York City, despite the city’s more stringent rules on gun possession. 
Concealed-carry reciprocity is a huge priority for the National Rifle Association. You can count on the issue arising in the Oct. 11 vice presidential debate and on the campaign trail in pro-gun swing states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, where many voters in both parties enjoy hunting and admire a guy who can skin and butcher his prey. . . . 

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After Aurora attack, Coloradans oppose stricter gun control and support the death penalty

I would have found the results more useful if they had compared polls for Colorado over time rather than the national polls.  Rasmussen Reports has this poll.
. . . A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Colorado Voters finds that 41% think the United States needs stricter gun control laws. But 53% disagree and see no need for stricter anti-gun laws. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 
This is virtually identical to national findings following the July 20 incident in Aurora, Colorado, in which 12 people died and at least 30 others were wounded. Opposition to stricter gun control laws nationally has ranged from a high of 54% this past February to a low of 37% in April 2007 following the shootings at Virginia Tech. 
Sixty-six percent (66%) of Colorado voters believe the suspect in the Aurora shootings should receive the death penalty if convicted. Just 20% oppose the death penalty for the suspected killer, but 14% more are undecided. . . .

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Survey shows that some academics in social psychology would not hire conservatives

Anyone who has been in academia shouldn't find this too surprising.  From Inside Higher Education:
A new study, however, challenges that assumption -- at least in the field of social psychology. The study isn't due to be published until next month (in Perspectives on Psychological Science), and the authors and others are noting limitations to the study. But its findings of bias by social psychologists (even if just a decent-sized minority of them) are already getting considerable buzz in conservative circles. Just over 37 percent of those surveyed said that, given equally qualified candidates for a job, they would support the hiring of a liberal candidate over a conservative candidate. Smaller percentages agreed that a "conservative perspective" would negatively influence their odds of supporting a paper for inclusion in a journal or a proposal for a grant.   (The final version of the paper is not yet available, but an early version may be found on the website of the Social Science Research Network.) . . .

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71-year-old Robbery victim defends himself with permitted concealed gun

This robbery victim didn't pull out his gun until the robber pointed his gun at the four robbery victims.  In addition to the 71-year-old, there was another 71-year-old, a 69 year old, and a 82-year-old. 
A licensed carrier of concealed weapon fired at a man who had just robbed him and three others in St. Louis Friday night.  Around 10:50pm, the foursome was walking east in the 4500 block of Olive. An armed robber came up behind them and ordered them to drop their possessions. 
The suspect took off but turned around and pointed a gun at the victims. One of the victims, a 71-year-old man with a conceal and carry permit, pulled out his weapon and fired at robber. The suspect got into an early 1980s maroon Ford pickup with a black camper shell and drove away. . . .
Another version of the story is available here.

Thanks to Countenance Blog and Tony Troglio.

Another defensive gun use is available here.

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So did the stimulus work?

Dylan Matthews claims that the stimulus worked and he points to some selective studies.  The first is by  James Feyrer and Bruce Sacerdote at Dartmouth.  Here is basically what I wrote up in my book entitled "Debacle" published by Wiley:


One expects that taking resources from the rest of the country and giving it to a particular state will also transfer jobs. The more the favored states get, the more jobs one expects that they will gain. But despite what Feyrer and Sacerdote as well as Krugman claim, that is not the same thing as saying that increasing federal government spending increases the number of jobs at the national level. Indeed, the federal government can end up, on net, destroying jobs at the same time that it moves jobs from those states that don’t get much money to those that get a lot.

The Feyrer and Sacerdote estimates do not consider the distinction between the benefits that individual states might get from receiving more money and that, in the aggregate, the Stimulus can reduce employment. They just look at whether the states getting more Stimulus money end up with relatively more employment. The negative intercept coefficients that they have for their state-level regressions in their Table 3 (columns 1 to 3) are certainly consistent with the Stimulus destroying jobs in the aggregate. Indeed, the intercept is so negative that only Alaska has a net increase in employment as a percent of the population.

Feyrer and Sacerdote's state level data is driven by two states Alaska and North Dakota, and even then primarily driven by North Dakota.  Alaska has almost twice the per capita stimulus dollars as North Dakota and is a real outlier.  No one can serious argue that North Dakota's success is due to the stimulus and not its oil boom.  Eliminating both states finds essentially a zero relationship between stimulus dollars going to a state and Feyrer and Sacerdote measure of percentage of the population employed.

With the later stimulus data released by recovery.gov, I have looked at the results and North Dakota now explains all the obtained relationship across states.

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Is Paul Ryan Romney's VP nominee?

An example of why Ryan would be a strong nominee.

Rubio would also be a strong candidate.

Intrade shows that Ryan has this wrapped up.

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8/10/2012

The most transparent administration ever won't even let reporters interview people outside an Obama event

Dave Davies is a report for a Philadelphia Public Radio station (WHYY). Pretty amazing. The audio available with the story is also pretty amazing. From WHYY:
Presidential campaign events are always orchestrated stage shows, and reporters are used to campaigns doing their best to manipulate the media and control the day’s narrative.
But my experience Thursday at a Michelle Obama event in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania was a first.
Obama campaign operatives barred me from talking to voters outside the event, to the point of interfering with my interviews and grabbing my microphone.
You can hear some audio of one encounter by playing my radio story above.
Here’s what happened:
During the two-hour wait for the rally to begin, I wanted to talk to some of the supporters attending the event. Since I couldn't leave the media pen at the Upper Dublin High School gymnasium, I told press aide Devora Kaye I'd like to go and find some outside.
Kaye, who is exceptionally pleasant, said I could go out and come back in, but that I couldn't talk to people waiting in line for the event. When I asked why, she mentioned security and crowd-control concerns, which honestly made no sense. Everyone coming into the building would have to go through security again anyway.
I went outside. The line was short and things were peaceful. The only members of the public around to talk to were the people in line to get into the rally, so that’s where I went. . . .





I was troubled by this part of the story:
I spoke to Dick Polman, national political writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, a 20-year veteran of national politics and also a blogger on Newsworks.org. I described what had happened, and asked for his take. “I've never had that experience, ever, and I'm talking about Republicans and Democrats, in the primaries, in the general election,” Polman said. “I've never been told you can't talk to the people who are right in front of you. It's a sign that the campaigns really really want to control the narrative.” . . .
Campaigns? It was only the Obama campaign. Why would this reporter tar both Romney and Obama?

UPDATE: Apparently, the Obama administration has gone even further in trying to control what is reported by the news media.  A video is available here.
Politico's Jonathan Martin and Washington Post's Chris Cillizza talk to NBC's Chuck Todd about the Obama-Biden campaign's control over reporters and the pool report on Todd's MSNBC program, "The Daily Rundown."
The pool report is a brief memo that is usually written by one reporter that goes out to members of the press who were not able to make it to an event where the president or vice president attended. The pool report often contains a few lines that the president or vice president . . .  said. Sometimes gaffes made by the candidates are included in the report.
Martin says that as of late the Biden campaign team has gone through pool reports and then tells the reporter what is okay and what is not okay to print.
As Martin and Chuck Todd note, this is a memo that is by the press and for the press.
"The Biden aides are trying to edit what's in there while it's been drafted, and then after you send it to them and they're reviewing it, they're looking for potential land mines," Martin revealed. 
"By the way, the only reason it gets sent through them, and I think we're going to have to change the system -- this is an outrage that they do this! The only reason we send it to them is it's the fastest distribution to the press," Chuck Todd said. . . .
"It's a reflection of how much the Biden staff is determined to police him and really save him from himself," Martin observed. . . .

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How much have pure government transfer payments increased over time? How much has total government spending grown?

Government spending on wealth transfers (government spending minus spending on goods and services) has grown dramatically since the early 1960s. Total government spending as a percent of GDP has soared from 25% in the early 1960s to about 36% today -- an almost 50% increase in GDP share.

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Gary Becker and Jim Heckman's strange, self-serving argument for more government funds for economists

Gary Becker and Jim Heckman's piece in today's WSJ makes a very strange argument.  Anecdotal stories of benefits doesn't show that those benefits wouldn't have been obtained anyway.  It also doesn't address or deal with any of the problems of government funded research, such as political biases or wealth transfers.  Nor do they even mention any evidence showing that government is particularly good at picking which projects to back.  Surely Gary at least would argue that with regard to government picking investments in general.

Given that people write op-eds for free, is there any reason to suspect that this research is going to be underproduced?  There are also obviously a lot of politically connected think tanks that have an incentive to produce research.  In addition, with all the huge subsidies given to research through public universities, even if there is a net benefit from subsidies, there could already be too much research being produced.  Subsidies are also already available in terms of the data the federal government provides.  

In any case, it is not like the vast majority of economic research requires much money.  I personally have done studies on crime after compiling the largest data sets used to study the subject, but it never dawned on me to get government subsidies.

The claim about the health care savings from reduced smoking are also wrong.  People have to die at some point.  Smokers die earlier and their illnesses are shorter before they die.  That saves Social Security payments for the government as well as medical costs.

The argument surely comes across as economists appearing self-serving.  It also shows how the temptation to get government money warps people's perspectives, and it provides a reason why the government should stay out of education.  From today's WSJ:
The federal deficit has ballooned in recent years, and even larger deficits are coming due to the expected growth of entitlement spending. There is little disagreement among members of both political parties that federal spending should be reduced. In such an environment it is crucial that the right criteria guide the cuts that will be made. Across-the-board cuts are not a thoughtful way to make choices. . . .
We cannot expect the market alone to support basic economic and social research, including data collection, since they are public goods that are difficult to appropriate privately. In cutting out the considerable fat from the public diet we should not cut the muscle that has helped make our economy the largest and strongest in history.

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Interviews on Canada's Sun TV about gun control

This interview was by Brian Lilley on Byline.
August 9, 2012

Here is also a show that I did with Ezra Levant: "Myths of Gun Crime"

July 19, 2012

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Another massive loss for the USPS

From the WSJ: 
The U.S. Postal Service on Thursday reported a $5.2 billion quarterly loss and said it was nearly out of cash and likely to exhaust its government credit line in coming months. . . .  
The Postal Service's loss for its third quarter ended June 30 compared with a $3.1 billion loss for the like period a year earlier. Charges taken in connection to a mandate to prefund retiree health care drove the loss in the latest quarter, but declining first-class and advertising mail volume were a drag on revenue. 
Mr. Donahoe said the Postal Service would pay its employees and critical vendors but might skip some payments to others. 
He said current retirees aren't at risk of losing insurance coverage. While the Postal Service may tap all its credit from the U.S. Treasury by October, finances should improve later in the year with election mail and holiday deliveries propping up revenue, the agency said. 
The Postal Service defaulted for the first time in its history on Aug. 1, failing to pay $5.5 billion for future retiree health benefits. A similar $5.6 billion payment is due at the end of next month. The agency said it wouldn't make that either, unless Congress acts. . . .

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Obama: " I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry"


The auto bailouts were a financial disaster that made the US much poorer.  From Politico:
President Obama, while villifying Mitt Romney for opposing the auto industry bailout, bragged about the success of his decision to provide government assistance and said he now wants to see every manufacturing industry come roaring back. 
“I said, I believe in American workers, I believe in this American industry, and now the American auto industry has come roaring back,” he said. “Now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry. 
“I don’t want those jobs taking root in places like China, I want those jobs taking root in places like Pueblo,” Obama told a crowd gathered for a campaign rally at the Palace of Agriculture at the Colorado State Fairgrounds here. . . .

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Prosecutors in Zimmerman case accidentally release a lot of personal information about Zimmerman

As if the prosecutor hadn't already released too much information on Zimmerman.  At some point this becomes a pattern of purposeful "mistakes."  From Fox News:

Florida prosecutors mistakenly released a trove of evidence in the case of George Zimmerman, including a photo of Trayvon Martin's body after he was shot to death by the neighborhood watchman. 
Evidence that was supposed to be only for the eyes of the lawyers and judge - at least throughout the discovery process - was included in documents sent to several media outlets. In addition to the photo, prosecutors released college transcripts that showed Zimmerman received a D in a criminal justice course at Seminole State College. 
Zimmerman was on academic probation at the school when he was expelled in the wake of the Feb. 26 shooting, according to the New York Daily News. 
In addition to the college grades, Zimmerman's report card was in the errant document dump. Those report cards showed he struggled with math, science and Spanish. 
The documents were accidentally included in supplemental discovery records distributed by special prosecutor Angela Corey’s office. . . .

George Zimmerman "was expelled shortly thereafter [the case got attention] due to safety concerns and the high profile nature of his case."

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The planned Democrat middle class tax increase

From the Wall Street Journal:
. . . Asked about raising taxes on the middle class on Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” White House economist Larry Summers wouldn’t repeat Mr. Obama’s pre-election promise. “It is never a good idea to absolutely rule things out no matter what,” Mr. Summers said—except, apparently, when his boss is running for office. Meanwhile, on ABC’s “This Week,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also slid around Mr. Obama’s vow and said, “We have to bring these deficits down very dramatically. And that’s going to require some very hard choices.” 
These aren’t even nondenial denials. The Obama advisers are laying the groundwork for taxing the middle class while claiming the deficit made them do it. 
The liberal establishment is even further along in finally admitting that Mr. Obama wasn’t, er, telling the truth. A piece in the New York Times over the weekend declared in a headline that “the Rich Can’t Pay for Everything, Analysts Say.” And it quoted Leonard Burman, a veteran of the Clinton Treasury who now runs the Brookings Tax Policy Center, as saying that “This idea that everything new that government provides ought to be paid for by the top 5%, that’s a basically unstable way of governing.” They’re right, but where were they during the campaign? . . . 
Democrats already plan to repeal the Bush tax cuts, but that won’t raise enough money. So they’re proposing an income tax surcharge on “the wealthy,” but that won’t raise enough either. . . . 
Democrats have already taxed the middle class by raising cigarette taxes to pay for the children’s health-care expansion. They’re also teeing up average earners with their cap-and-tax energy bill. Mr. Obama had hoped that cap-and-tax would raise some $646 billion over a decade, but Democrats in the House had to give most of that away in bribes to business to pass their bill. To finance ObamaCare, they’re also proposing another 10-percentage-point increase in the payroll tax on firms and individuals that don’t purchase health insurance. But this won’t raise enough money either.  
So waiting in the wings is the biggest middle-class tax increase of them all: a European-style value added tax, or VAT. . . .

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Amici briefs in Woollard v. Gallagher, The Maryland Concealed Carry Case

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has put in this brief available here.  Virginia is joined by the AG's in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Kentucky.  Virginia, South Carolina, and West Virginia are three of the five states covered by the Fourth Circuit.  From the Summary statement in the brief:
The Commonwealth of Virginia, pursuant to Fed. R. App. P. 29(a),files this Amicus Brief in support of the plaintiffs-appellees' argumentthat Maryland's "good and substantial reason" requirement for law-abiding citizens to obtain permission to carry a handgun outside thehome for self-defense impinges the constitutional rights of its citizens. The Commonwealth and the amici States have an interest in this Court correctly holding that the self-defense interest animating the Second Amendment's individual right to keep and bear arms applies broadly beyond the confines of an individual's home. Because this Court's interpretation of the federal constitutional right will inform the protection afforded the right by parallel provisions in many state constitutions, the amici States urge this Court to interpret the scope of the right and apply a standard of review to its infringement that will recognize the inherent right of all citizens of the United States to lawfully and effectually protect themselves from unlawful violence. 
My most recent paper in the University of Maryland Law Review is available here

The Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore has a brief available here.

Alan Gura has a brief available here.  I wish that he had discussed the entire relevant literature here:  19 support our side, 10 claim no significant effect and one claims a small temporary bad effect for one type of crime.

The documents for the case are available here.

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Advice on what to do in a multiple victim public shooting: "Run, Hide, Fight"



Note the sign on the door at 0:57 into the video.  "Run, Hide, Fight" isn't very good advice.

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8/09/2012

The Government does such a good job ferreting out fraud

Notice that these fake ID numbers are being used to get fraudulent tax refunds.  One way to end the fraud is to stop using the tax system as a way to make welfare payments.  From Fox News:


. . . The U.S. Treasury inspector general report accuses the IRS of discouraging employees from reviewing applications for the ID numbers, which are generally from non-resident workers.  
The inspector general specifically said there were 154 mailing addresses that were used 1,000 or more times on applications, including 15,795 numbers assigned to a Phoenix address. 
The report, which evaluated the processing year 2011, also found inadequate controls can result in the numbers being assigned to people who have not proved their identity or foreign status, which can result in fraudulent tax returns. 
The inspector general also found 10 individual addresses were used for filing 53,994 tax returns and receiving $86.4 million in fraudulent tax refunds. For example, 23,994 tax refunds totaling $46.3 million were issued to an address in Atlanta; and 2,507 tax refunds totaling $10.4 million were issued to an address in Oxnard, Calif. 
In addition, the Treasury’s Inspector General for Tax Administration reports found 10 bank accounts received 23,560 tax refunds totaling more than $16 million -- including: 2,706 tax refunds issued to a single account totaling $7.3 million. . . .

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Despite huge costs, Obamacare will leave 30 million uninsured in 2022

If the goal of Obamacare was to eliminate those who are uninsured, it could have achieved it for much less money.  Instead, the goal was to take over the rest of health care system.
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report says that under the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, 30 million non-elderly Americans will remain without health insurance in 2022. 
One of the main arguments the Obama administration made for passing the Affordable Care Act was that it would provide coverage for the uninsured. 
Currently, accoriding to CBO, there are 53 million uninsured persons in the United States, including uninsured illegal aliens. The CBO estimates that in 2022--8 years after the Affordable Care Act has been fully implemented--30 million people will remain uninsured.
Moreover, under Obamacare, 8 percent of legal U.S. residents will remain without health insurance in 2022, according to CBO. . . .

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To Obama the solution is always more government spending

Obama's interview in Black Enterprise magazine.

Most economists will tell you that there is no doubt the economy has gotten stronger, but we are digging ourselves out a deep hole. There are a lot more things we could be doing. To get them done, we need cooperation of Congress. We got the payroll tax portion of [my American Jobs Act] done, but what we didn’t get done is the assistance I was proposing to the states to help them hire back teachers, firefighters, and first responders, because one of the weakest parts of this recovery has been state and local government hiring. 
Given the weaknesses of the construction industry, the American Jobs Act proposed that we rebuild schools, roads, bridges, airport, and ports. That would provide small businesses with opportunities as contractors and vendors in this rebuilding process. Again, Congress needs to act. . . .

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More Obama lawlessness

Obama can't get the laws he wants through Congress so he signs executive orders.

President Barack Obama is considering executive-branch action on U.S. cybersecurity after Congress failed to pass legislation to protect national security assets, a White House aide said. 
“If the Congress is not going to act on something like this, then the president wants to make sure that we’re doing everything possible,” John Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, said today at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. 
Senate Republicans last week blocked a bill backed by Obama that would have set up voluntary cybersecurity standards for operators of infrastructure such as power grids and water- treatment plants that are considered essential to national security. . . .

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Blagojevich's claims on wiretaps that money funneled to Obama were not follow up

From the Chicago Tribune:
An upcoming book about Rod Blagojevich says undercover recordings caught the former governor saying he had heard that convicted influence peddler Antoin "Tony" Rezko secretly channeled $25,000 in cash to Barack Obama, but federal authorities did not deem the claim credible. . . . 
Blagojevich's claim about the money was caught on a government recording that was not made public during either of Blagojevich's trials, according to the book. The book, by Jeff Coen and John Chase, does not say who gave the recordings to the authors. 
The accusation of money paid indirectly to Obama is among many musings by Blagojevich that the FBI secretly recorded. Among the others: that Blagojevich mentioned naming Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry to Obama's vacant Senate seat so he could "have a shot" at having sex with her.  
Blagojevich, a Democrat, also told a staffer he voted for Republican George H.W. Bush for president and then gave the staffer a warning: "If you ever repeat this, first I'll deny it, secondly I'll wait a little bit, then I'll fire you." . . .


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8/08/2012

Armed citizen stops multiple victim public shooting in its tracks

The same day that there was an attack at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin there was a similar attack in Early, Texas.  The difference between the two though was that an armed citizen on the scene who was able to quickly stop the attack.  
. . . During Sunday afternoon's shooting that left three dead at the Peach House RV Park in Early, Vic Stacy assisted officers in shooting alleged gunman Charles Conner. . . .

When Stacy answered a phone call from neighbor, he went into action. 
"He said, 'You need to get over here quick, and bring your gun, I got a dead body laying over here in the road,' " Stacy said. 
Stacy grabbed his .357 magnum and headed to his neighbor’s RV. 
"I could see Charlie, the gunman, come out of his trailer, and he had a riffle in his hand with a scope on it," said Stacy. . . . 
Early Police Sgt. Steven Means was the first on the scene, and Conner immediately began shooting at him, Stacy said. 
After his neighbor asked him if he was going to shoot at Conner, Stacy recalled saying, “I sure am when I get a good shot." 
Stacy fired at Conner and hit him in the thigh, knocking Conner to the ground. Still alive, Conner fired another round back at him, Stacy said, noting he then fire four more rounds at Conner. . . . 
Conner was no longer moving, Stacy said, and was pronounced dead at the scene. 
Brown County Sheriff Bobby Grubbs said the outcome could have been a lot different if Stacy hadn’t had his gun and the presence of mind to do what he did Sunday afternoon.
An interview with Vic Stacy by the Brownwood Bulletin is available here.

Additional interview with the Sheriff by the Brownwood Bulletin is available here.


A more comprehensive story is available here.
Brown County Sheriff Bobby Grubbs later said, “The citizen that fired these shots did a tremendous job out there. Had he not had a gun and the presence of mind to do this, we don’t know what the outcome would’ve been.”

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The timing of Harry Reid's attack on Romney's taxes

Is Harry Reid making up claims about Romney's taxes to distract Americans from the economic numbers when they are released?  The attack on Romney was made the afternoon before the latest unemployment numbers were released.  From Steve Huntley at the Chicago Sun-Times:
Romney’s tax returns, or so President Barack Obama’s campaign and his supporters believe. Their hope is that Americans care more about how much taxes Romney paid than they do about their own economic well-being after nearly four years of his failed economic policies. Such is the contempt the Obama camp holds for the voters.
That attitude is equaled by a contempt for the notion of truth and fair play. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada took to the Senate floor to issue a charge from an unnamed source that Romney hadn’t paid income taxes for 10 years. So outrageous was this smear that even mainstream media types not known for their love of Republicans and conservatives, such as CBS veteran Bob Schieffer, likened Reid’s claim to the notorious Sen. Joe McCarthy and his 1950s destructive lies saying he had the names of communists in the State Department.
In Reid’s book, re-electing Obama trumps everything, even the institution he leads. . . .

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Rasmussen: Consumer Confidence Falls to Another 2012 Low

From Rasmussen Survey:
Consumer confidence has fallen for the third straight day and reached a new 2012 low for the second time in two weeks.The Rasmussen Consumer Index, which measures consumer confidence on a daily basis, fell four points on Wednesday to 77.2. Confidence is down eight points from a week ago, down 13 points from a month ago and down 14 points from three months ago.Twenty-seven percent (27%) believe the economy is getting better, while 54% believe it is getting worse. . . .

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Man who killed Sikh worshippers committed suicide

Yet another case where the killer in this multiple victim public shooting apparently planned on dying before the attack.  From Fox News:

The gunman who killed six Sikh worshippers in a Milwaukee-area temple Sunday ended his bloody rampage with a self-inflicted gunshot to the head, authorities said at a Wednesday morning press conference. 
Wade Michael Page, 40, turned his 9mm semi-automatic handgun on himself after being shot in the stomach by a police officer who responded to the scene in Oak Creek, Wis. Authorities had previously had said Page was killed with a rifle shot from an Oak Creek police officer after he refused to put down his weapon and fired at the officer. Teresa Carlson, special agent in charge of the FBI in Milwaukee, said investigators reviewed videotape that showed Page died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head after being downed by a shot to the gut. 
"The evidence indicates that the second responding officer who shot Page in the stomach, thereby neutralizing the threat - and by the way, I've seen the video, it is an amazing shot," Carlson said. "And thank goodness. Subsequent to that wound, it appears that Page died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head."  . . .

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The burden on the top taxpayers is increasing


The Wall Street Journal clearly shows that the share of taxes paid by the top income earners has gone up much faster than their share of income.  From the WSJ:

  • The top 5%, top 1% and top 0.1% of Americans have been getting a bigger slice of all the income and paying a growing share of federal taxes.
  • Average tax rates have come down for everyone. On average, the tax bite on the rich is bigger—except for those whose income mainly comes from capital gains and dividends.
  • The share of taxes paid by the bottom 40% of the population has been shrinking along with their share of income.
  • The tax system narrows the gap between economic winners and losers, but not enough to stop the gap from widening.
  • See also here for a redone diagram by Paul Caron. 

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    Keeping movie theaters as gun-free zones

    I would like to know whether guns were banned from theater or whether the arrest of this guy was just precautionary.  From the LA Times:

    A lawyer says there could be a simple explanation for why an Ohio man allegedly armed himself to the teeth for a Saturday night screening of "The Dark Knight Rises": He wanted the protection.
    Scott A. Smith, 37, of North Ridgeville allegedly packed a bag with a loaded 9-millimeter Glock, extra ammunition clips and four knives for his trip to the movie theater, according toCleveland.com.
    A search of Smith's home following his arrest turned up additional weapons, according to another report on Cleveland.com. That report said those items included eight rifles and handguns as well as "survivalist's gear" such as gas masks and bulletproof vests. The site additionally said that Smith was believed to have spent some time in the military.
    It was the bag that caught the eye of an eagle-eyed, off-duty police officer who was working security on Saturday night at a movie theater in Westlake, Ohio, the news site reported.
    That and the fact that the patron arrived extra early and took a seat with his back to the wall at the top of the theater, a position that Westlake Police Lt. Ray Arcuri said gave Smith a "tactical advantage." . . .

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    8/07/2012

    Push in California to ban semi-automatic guns

    After the attacks at the Aurora movie theater and Sikh Temple, there have been multiple calls for more gun control.  Well, that ought to eliminate multiple victim public shootings in the same way that they have been eliminated in Europe.  From Fox 5 in San Diego:
    A proposed California bill expanding a 10-year ban on semi-automatic firearms with interchangeable magazines gained momentum.
    The State Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and State Senate Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) announced their support of California State Senate bill SB-249 Monday following the mass shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin.
    SB-249 was drafted by State Senator Leland Yee and is designed to prohibit anyone from importing, possessing, making, selling, loaning, or transferring a conversion kit.  Any person who does so would be punished by a fine of $1,000 or imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year.
    Gun owners would have six months to remove bullet buttons on their firearms and attach a fixed magazine that holds 10 bullets instead. . . . .
    More information on the proposed law is available here.  In case, anyone needs a reminder, here are some predictions about what would happen when the Federal Assault Weapons Ban sunset in 2004.

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    Obama letting some illegal aliens with criminal records stay in the US

    Remember the pledge that Obama made when he was sworn in as president:
    I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
    That "faithfully execute" would include enforcing laws.  Fox News has this piece commenting how Obama is selectively enforcing immigration laws.

    President Obama’s new immigration plan will provide safe harbor to criminal illegal immigrants and will lead to a “capitulation to lawlessness” that could threaten public safety, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said.Fox News has obtained an internal document detailing how the Department of Homeland Security plans to implement what critics say amounts to an amnesty policy for what could be more than one million illegal immigrants.
    According to the documents, illegal immigrants convicted of felonies or misdemeanors under “state immigration laws” may be granted deferred action. Those who have repeatedly entered the United States illegally will also be eligible. And traffic violations would not be considered a misdemeanor.
    “It is a direct threat to the rule of law and to the demonstrated desire of the American people for a lawful system of immigration,” Sessions said. “I believe this administration has utilized this policy to basically undermine and negate the ability of the law officers to do what they have been hired and paid to do.” . . .

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    Push for more gun control in New York

    Here are some of the proposals.  My question is a simple one: Does anyone believe that these proposals would have done anything to have stopped the recent attacks that supposedly justifies them?
    Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, supported tougher gun control measures during his campaign in 2010, but, facing a divided Legislature, he has not made it one of the central elements of his legislative agenda. Asked about the newly proposed gun measures, his spokesman, Josh Vlasto, said Monday, “While there are many proposals that will be considered during the legislative session, everyone agrees that something must be done to stop the violence.” . . .
    Here are some proposals:
    State Senator José R. Peralta, Democrat of Queens, would limit ammunition sales to 500 rounds per customer each month. . . . 
    The Colorado killer planned his attack at least four months in advance.  Could he have planned it so as to spread out his purchases?  On the other hand, what about a Boy Scout troop that wants to go out for a shooting trip?  Believe it or not, 500 rounds is not a lot.
    Senator Gianaris, the lawmaker seeking to limit firearm purchases to one per month, said the measure would cut down on gun trafficking, in which a person buys a large cache of guns legally and then resells them. . . .
    Same answer as above.

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    CNN Gun Debate: Roland Martin should learn not to rely on the Brady Campaign for facts

    video

    It would have been nice to have had a chance on the show to correct some of Roland Martin's mistaken claims.  Possibly in the future I could meet with Mr. Martin and we could go through some of these claims.

    1) Two hundred defensive gun uses a year.  Mr. Martin ought to actually look at the FBI Uniform Crime Reports because if he goes through the data he will find that much of the country doesn't even report the data. More importantly, pointing to the number of criminals killed by law-abiding citizens ignores defensive gun uses that injured the criminal or got him to run away simply by brandishing the gun or firing a warning shot.  Fewer than one out of every thousand times that people use guns defensively is the attacker killed.  But why should we ignore all the other defensive gun uses.

    2) 100,000 people shot or killed?  Mr. Martin doesn't understand where the data for estimated number of woundings comes from.  You have a few urban areas like Baltimore where the data is collected and then that rate is extrapolated to the country as a whole.  Does that seem like a serious estimate to you?  More importantly, the violence in the urban areas that he is concerned about is because of gangs fighting each other over things such as drug turf.  Just as it is difficult to stop these gangs from getting drugs to sell, it is very difficult to stop them from getting the weapons that they use to try protecting those drugs.  Drug gangs can't just call the police when their drugs are stolen.  They have to set up their own militaries to protect their valuable property.

    3) Mr. Martin worries that Americans buying guns will simply "pop off a lot faster."  The point is that permit holders are extremely law-abiding, losing their permits for any type of firearms related violation at hundredths or thousandths of one percent.

    4) Regarding the 2009 study that Mr. Martin points to, here is a discussion that I have in the third edition of More Guns, Less Crime about it.


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    After Wisconsin shooting, Obama calls for meeting of experts and others to address further efforts and gun control measures

     From a statement that Obama gave earlier today at the White House:
    I think all of us recognize that these kinds of terrible, tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul-searching and to examine additional ways that we can reduce violence.  And as I've already said, I think there are a lot of elements involved in it, and what I want to do is to bring together law enforcement, community leaders, faith leaders, elected officials of every level to see how we can make continued progress. . . .

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    8/06/2012

    Media Matters doesn't know when to stop


    This is the third attack by Media Matters in two weeks.  A long response was just posted yesterday to an attack on Friday and the previous Tuesday they had another piece that must define "civilized" countries in a very strange way.  The above quote is from part of a post put up by Media Matters.  The first link in this section is to a previous piece Media Matters did attacking an op-ed that I had in the New York Daily News and an appearance on MSNBC, and I have already responded to it here

    It is indeed true that I said that Zimmerman's interview "suggests . . . That Zimmerman has nothing to hide."  I stand by that statement, and I believe that most people who know anything about the legal system understand the point that I was making.  As to the other point, I clearly wrote: "I haven't been able to confirm the following claim here in a solid news source, but if true, this would be important."  I put the examples which were true up front, and then I put two possible examples that I hadn't been able to confirm and I warned readers that I hadn't been able to confirm them.

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    Illinois unlikely to adopt so-called "assault weapons" ban


    Figures that the Chicago Tribune would say that the opposition facing the so-called assault weapons ban is from those who fear it "could restrict hunting rights."  Let me give a hint.  Semi-automatic weapons are useful for self-defense.  This ban will ban semi-automatic guns based on their looks.  From the Chicago Tribune:
    At a downtown Chicago news conference, the governor also proposed a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, another thorny gun control issue that has been pushed to the forefront by the Colorado shootings that killed 12 and wounded dozens on July 20.
    Quinn dismissed accusations that he was seeking political advantage from the tragedy.
    "We should show the nation that when something really bad happens, as happened in Aurora, Colo., a horrific massacre, that we don't stand idly by," Quinn said. "We take action." . . .
    Furthermore, regional division is so deep-seated in Springfield that lawmakers have been unable to make significant changes to state gun laws in recent years. Chicago Democrats, for example, favor gun control, while Downstate Democrats and Republicans have fought off proposals they fear could restrict hunting rights. Some Democratic leaders have used gun control as a wedge issue in races against suburban Republicans, who often are split over the issue. . . .

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    Dems have no shame going after Romney on a charge that they know is false

    It isn't just that they don't have evidence for these charges as the show hosts ask.  It is that the Democrats know that these charges are false and yet they make them.


    UPDATE: Finally, after Democrats and the White House have been defending Harry Reid's claim that Romney hasn't paid income taxes for 10 years, the White House slightly distances itself from Reid's attacks.  Ultimately in response ABC's Jon Karl, Carney says that he hasn't discussed the issue with the president.

     News White House correspondent Ed Henry: "The charge is not that Mitt Romney paid less than a factory worker, or whatever, but it's a bit more vicious than that from Harry Reid. He said he has an anonymous source telling him that [Romney] paid no taxes for something like 10 years. So the president has talked a lot about change in the tone of this town. Why hasn't he picked up the phone to ask Harry Reid to stop making a charge like that?"

    Jay Carney: "I think the idea that people tell Harry Reid what to do is inconsistent with what everyone here understands to be [the case].  . . . You hear the president going out and  talking about the important issues facing the American people every day . . ."  Long discussion about outsourcing of jobs and the tax code that supposedly encourages that and a discussion about taxes paid by hedge fund managers.


    Henry: "That's not the charge.  The charge is that he didn't pay taxes for ten years. Does the White House believe that allegation?"

    Carney: "Yeah, I would refer you to Senator Reid. I can't -- only Senator Reid knows his source, which he has discussed. And I would refer you to that.  I think that it is a fair point to make that this is an issue that was not originated during the general election campaign that did not start with the president's campaign or with Senator Reid . . . ."  [My comment: this is of course false.  No one previously said that Romney had not been paying taxes.]

    Henry: "Nancy Pelosi today said, 'Harry Reid made a statement that is true. Somebody told him it is a fact.' Do you agree with that rationale?"

    Carney: "I haven't seen that statement.  Again, I would refer you to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid."

    Henry: "Harry Reid says he hasn't paid taxes in 10 years and that's just a fact?" He

    Carney: "I think the President is focused on -- and you hear him say this every day -- issues that matter to the American people. . . ."


    Jon Karl from ABC News: "One more on Harry Reid. It's a simple question. Does the president think that this allegation coming from Harry Reid, without any evidence, made on the Senate floor, is that below the belt? Does that cross the line?"

    Carney: "Again, the president has not expressed an opinion to me on this. I can tell you that the president is focused on issues that I have just talked about. . . . The issue here is one of transparency and, again, as the president sees it, in regards to his candidacy, one, it is an important tradition. It allows the American people to get a sense of the candidate's background."

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    Ayn Rand's First Appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson

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    8/05/2012

    Media Matters gets it wrong yet again, new critique of piece that I had in the Wall Street Journal

    Media Matters is back to its old ways attacking my work.  I have previously responded to Media Matters' past claims here, here, and here.  Now Media Matters is being critical of the op-ed that I had in the Wall Street Journal last Thursday.

    Media Matters attacks (full text below) the surveys by the National Association of Chiefs of Police (NACOP), Police Magazine, and San Diego Police Officers Association that were referenced in my Wall Street Journal piece.  Instead, Media Matters prefers one small survey that over-samples urban areas.

    Why does Media Matters prefer the single survey presented in a American Journal of Preventative Medicine (AJPM) article to the 23 NACOP and other surveysLet us compare the AJPM article and the NACOP surveys since they are the ones that both deal with command officers. Both were conducted through the mail, but each year, for 23 years, the NACOP survey was sent to all of the roughly 22,000 chiefs of police and sheriffs in the United States.  By contrast, the AJPM article was only done one time during 2002/2003 and they sent out a letter to just a small fraction of these police chiefs, merely 574, or fewer than 3 percent of the total.

    In addition -- something Media Matters conveniently neglects to mention -- the researchers for the AJPM article purposely did not examine a representative sample of police chiefs, limiting themselves to only a subsample of those cities with more than 25,000 people.

    One difference between the NACOP and the AJPM article surveys is that the latter randomizes who they sent the survey to, something that Media Matters seems to think is an advantage of the AJPM article survey.   But that just shows how little Media Matters understands about statistics.  "Randomization" is a method researchers are typically forced to use because they only have limited resources to contact a smaller number of people.  Randomization is always imperfect to some degree in that it never perfectly represents the entire population; it is merely an an attempt to get a sample that is reasonably representative of the entire population.  The NACOP did not have send out a mailing to a subset of police chiefs and thus did not have to randomize because they sent the survey to the entire set of chiefs of police and sheriffs in the US. That is of course vastly better.

    The response rate for the NACOP surveys was between 12% and 14%, thus ranging from about 2,700 to 3,150 per year.  By contrast, the AJPM article had responses from 405 chiefs.  Although the smaller survey had a better response rate, it represents a very small number of the approximately 22,000 police chiefs and sheriffs across the country The NACOP survey had more than 7 times the number of respondents in any single year that the AJPM article had.  And it has been repeated 23 years, including recent years.

    As Media Matters correctly points out, the answers from the NACOP survey are not weighted by the population characteristics.  However, Media Matters neglects to mention that the survey in the AJPM article doesn't do that either.  Media Matters attacks the Police Magazine survey for not carefully weighting for "the demographics of its survey population to be representative of the general population," but they don't hold the survey in the AJPM article to the same standard.  Indeed, it is clear from the AJPM article that they heavily oversample urban areas (62.4%) in comparison to suburbs (36.3%) or rural areas (1.2%). 

    This huge difference in the number of responses collected can easily explain the differences in the results.  The 2010 NACOP survey shows that 77% of chiefs of police and sheriffs supports very liberal concealed carry laws.  Twenty-three percent of respondents who either oppose or are neutral on concealed carry implies a number that is larger than the entire number surveyed for the AJPM article, let alone the 236 who say that civilians should be "prohibited from carrying a firearm in public places."  

    There are also problems with the questions used by the AJPM article.  Two of the four the questions from the AJPM article that are referenced by Media Matters are extremely vague and are likely to elicit agreement simply because of their vagueness. For instance, agreeing that "Civilians [should be] prohibited from carrying a firearm in public places," cannot reasonably be interpreted as opposing concealed carry by law-abiding citizens who pass a criminal background check.  If an urban police chief could think of one place that they would oppose people openly carrying guns in public places, they would agree with this statement.

    The "child access laws" question pointed to by Media Matters is equally vague.  The question could mean anything from a minimum age requirement for purchase of a gun to whether a child can only use a gun in the presence of an adult to prohibiting those under 18 access to guns under any circumstances. 

    As to Media Matters attacks on the NACOP as an organization, they rehash accusations from two decades ago. But in addition to the the National Association of Chiefs of Police (NACOP), Police Magazine, and San Diego Police Officers Association surveys, there are many other surveys of police that come to similar results (see pages 14 and 15 in my book More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010, third edition)).  Another is available here: Stephen L. Christopoulos "Survey of Police Officers in Lehigh and Northampton Counties Pennsylvania."

    Media Matters attacks the NACOP for not making information of their survey available, but Barry Shephard, the NACOP's Executive Director, wrote me: "We do not have record of any inquiry or request for information at any point in time from Media Matters."

    Click on pictures below to make text larger.  Because Media Matters has rewritten their comments in the past, I am providing a screen shot here of what they wrote.
    Other notes
    Links to police surveys available here.
    The 574 of the police chiefs contacted by the AJPM survey were out of the 1,290 cities with more than 25,000 people.

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