Ending gun-free zones in Afghanistan

My only question is why it has taken so long for this change to be made.  It has never been obvious to me why US troops would have ever been disarmed within their own installations.  From The Hill Newspaper:

Gen. John Allen, commander of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has taken the drastic step of ordering all American troops to be armed at all times -- even when within U.S. or coalition bases -- as a way to protect against increasing insider attacks.
The order, according to reports by CNN, states that all U.S. personnel will carry a weapon plus a magazine of ammunition around the clock.
The weapons will be carried in formerly secured areas, CNN reports, such as U.S. headquarters in Kabul and other coalition and Afghan government installations around the country.
Allen issued the order on Saturday, a day after two members of a U.S. special operations group were killed by a local recruit to the Afghan police force in Western Afghanistan.
The two soldiers assigned to a U.S. special forces team assigned to train and equip local police forces in Farah province, were unarmed when they were shot and killed by Mohammad Ismail on Friday.
Their deaths bring the toll of American soldiers killed by their local counterparts to 11 in the past two weeks. . . . .

Labels: ,

"Just 27% say The Economy is Getting Better"

Newest Rasmussen Survey (Saturday, August 18, 2012):
Twenty-seven percent (27%) of consumers say the economy is getting better these days, compared to 30% of investors who say the same.  Among consumers, 49% think the economy is getting worse, while 51% of investors believe the economy is heading in the wrong direction. . . .
Meanwhile a poll from earlier this week shows that voters trust Republicans more than Democrats on eight of ten issues and Democrats on more on only one.

The issues appear to be ranked in terms of their importance to voters.  The puzzle to me is why Democrats are trusted more on energy issues.

Labels: ,

Jonathan Rauch takes Robert Reich's new memoir to task for constantly making things up

With Robert Reich all over the news these days defending Obama's economic plans, I thought that this old article that I came across might be of interest.  Jonathan Rauch's piece is available here.  Here is just one small example:
Life, unlike Reich's book, is not a series of morality fables. On Feb. 22, 1995, Reich testified on the minimum wage before the Joint Economic Committee. That much his memoir gets right. "The Republican attack machine is gearing up," Reich writes, "and I'm one of the targets." Then he paints a scene in which committee chairman Jim Saxton, R-N.J., interrupts Reich's initial testimony and lights into him savagely, starting with, "Where did you learn economics, Mr. Secretary?" and then jumping up and down in his chair and crying, "Evidence! Evidence!" while pointing to a chart. "There was a time not long ago when congressional hearings were designed to elicit information for members in order to help them draft legislation," recalls Reich ruefully. "Now they're attack ads." 
When I checked the transcript, I was flabbergasted; so I checked the C-SPAN tapes, and they leave no doubt. Reich appears to have fabricated much of this episode for dramatic effect. Saxton was, in fact, decorous and polite. He did not jump up and down; he did not impugn Reich's education; he did not shout "Evidence! Evidence!" The chart to which Reich refers was actually presented during Saxton's opening statement, hours before Reich testified, and did not look as Reich claims it did. Worst of all, most of the lines that Reich attributes to Saxton--starting with "where did you learn economics, Mr. Secretary?"--appear never to have been said at all. Reich has replaced a dull, earnestly wonkish hearing with a Hollywood script in which a mean Republican hammers a decent Democrat. Don't take my word for it. I invite you to compare Reich's account with reality by clicking here. . . .



A quote from Barack Obama on March 16, 2006:

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can't pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies.
Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. That is ``trillion'' with a ``T.'' That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the President's budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion.
Our debt also matters internationally. My friend, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, likes to remind us that it took 42 Presidents 224 years to run up only $1 trillion of foreign-held debt. This administration did more than that in just 5 years. Now, there is nothing wrong with borrowing from foreign countries. But we must remember that the more we depend on foreign nations to lend us money, the more our economic security is tied to the whims of foreign leaders whose interests might not be aligned with ours.
Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ``the buck stops here.'' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit.

Chicago Magazine has additional quotes since then, such as Obama's quote explaining why Republicans were obligated to support his increase in the debt ceiling.
As president, you start realizing, you know what, we, we can't play around with this stuff. This is the full faith and credit of the United States. And so that was just an example of a new senator making what is a political vote as opposed to doing what was important for the country. And I'm the first one to acknowledge it.

The lengths to that Obama was willing to go to increase spending is available here.

Seven Myths About the Looming Debt-Ceiling 'Disaster'

Labels: , ,

Mark Halperin: "the media is very susceptible to doing what the Obama campaign wants"


Is David Leonhart right that changing demographics explain the weak economy?

In a recent post on the economix blog, David Leonhart claims that it is the reduction in share of the population that is working that is causing the reduction in GDP and that this reduction in share is due to demographics.  Do I agree that a lower job participation rate means lower GDP?  Sure, that is obviously true.  The question is whether changing demographics can explain the drop in the share working, and it is there that I think is wrong.
The share of Americans who are working age — old enough to be out of school but young enough not to be retired — is no longer growing. Only about 53 percent of the population was between the ages of 25 and 64 last year, unchanged from 2007 and up only slightly from 52 percent in 1997. Between 1967 and 1997, by contrast, the share grew 8 percentage points, to 52 percent from 44 percent. As more baby boomers retire, the share will begin to fall. . . .And aging isn’t the only demographic weight holding back the economy. For most of the 20th century, the share of women in the labor force was rising. It reached 60 percent in 1997, up from just 32 percent in 1948. . . .
I think that a simple graph easily shows that it that demographics can't explain the slow growth.  The drop in labor force participation started in the middle of 2008, but accelerated in June 2009, ironically when the recovery supposedly started.  There are simply no demographics that suddenly started changing so much right in the middle of 2009.  Leonhart raises the issue of an aging population, but that is the reason that I show a graph of the participation rate among the working age population, so large group of people suddenly reaching the normal retirement age can't explain it.  During the recovery, a lot of people have retired early, but that is not the same as a change in demographics.

Drawing a graph for the labor force participation rate for women tells an even more dramatic story.  Again, this drop occurs right when the recovery (falling almost one percentage point between June and December 2009).  It is true that women's participation rate has gone down, but you can't look at this graph and just believe that it can be explained by a huge sudden change in demographics.  In this case, if Leonhart's explanation were right, one would have to believe that the drop was due to a sudden increase in women's share of the working age population, but both men and women's shares of the working age population are both suddenly falling, especially that for women.
UPDATE: Steve Bronars tweets:
@JohnRLottJr @DLeonhardt especially declines within age/gender group. Age 55+ only grp w increasing participation-may be delayed retirement.
(the 2020 numbers are estimates)
In other words, the aging population can't explain the drop as participation rates due to an aging population because the participation rate is actually rising among older workers.  In addition, the participation rate has fallen across all working age men more than it has fallen across all working age women.  The increased participation rates for the elderly shows how they are delaying retirement.

Labels: ,


Colorado University to segregate dorms for students with concealed carry permits

This will make things safer.  The university has learned nothing from all the other multiple victim public shootings.
The University of Colorado Boulder and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs are amending their student housing contracts, segregating students who possess a valid concealed weapons carry permit. 
The university said Thursday that both campuses will establish a residential area for students over the age of 21 with a permit. In all other dormitories, guns will be banned, the new policy states. 
"The main dorms on the main campus will not allow any concealed carry weapons," CU Boulder spokesman Bronson Hilliard said. 
In addition, attendees at ticketed athletic and cultural events, such as football games and theater, on both campuses, will not be permitted to bring their guns, officials said. 
"We are treating that ticket purchase as a contractual agreement that you won't bring your weapon to the venue," Hilliard said 
Less than 1 percent of the student body population of each campus is believed to have a concealed carry permit, school officials said. . . .
The University of Colorado at Boulder is going even further.  For those interested in the effect of mandatory gunlock laws the research available here might be useful.
The University of Colorado Boulder today announced it is amending housing contracts to ask students who live in undergraduate residence halls and hold a Colorado concealed carry permit, or CCP, to forgo bringing a handgun to campus. The campus also will accommodate those who hold a CCP in a graduate student housing complex off the main campus, provided the permit holders store their weapon in a safe within their dwelling when they are not carrying it. 
The university also is asking residence advisers and faculty who live in university housing to sign the same housing agreement as a condition of their residence in these facilities. 
The actions follow a ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court on March 5, which allows individuals with state-issued concealed carry permits to carry handguns on university or college properties. The University of Colorado Board of Regents last spring delegated the authority to the chancellors of CU-Boulder and CU-Colorado Springs to create a process to implement the Colorado Supreme Court ruling in the campus residence environment.  
“I believe we have taken reasonable steps to adhere to the ruling of the Colorado Supreme Court, while balancing that with the priority of providing a safe environment for our students, faculty and staff,” said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. . . . . 
All this is ironic after the Aurora movie theater shooting.

Labels: ,

"EPA is pressured to drop ethanol mandate while drought drives corn prices up"

The ethanol rules were originally passed to make old cars burn gas more efficiently by putting more oxygen in the fuel.  But that only applied to cars made before 1972.  After that date, cars have a oxygen censor.  If there is less oxygen in the gas, the fuel injection system puts more oxygen in the gas.  Putting more oxygen in the fuel through ethanol has no impact.

There are also other costs from these rules.  A huge amount of wealth is destroyed by this rule because ethanol is much more costly and less energy producing than gas, plus cars must be made differently because ethanol is corrosive.  There is also formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, that is produced from burning ethanol.

Also from Fox News:

With record drought destroying crops across the country, corn prices are skyrocketing, and that is causing a world-wide ripple effect, including on the cost of the corn-derived gasoline additive ethanol.
Corn prices are up 60 percent this summer, Christopher Hurt, a Purdue University economic professor, estimates. And now Democratic governors from Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina and Arkansas have joined ranchers, poultry farmers and the United Nations director-general for food and agriculture in asking the Environmental Protection Agency to waive the federal requirement that gasoline contain 10 percent ethanol.
"It's universally acknowledged that ethanol is raising the price of food," Kenneth Green of the American Enterprise Institute said. "It's not lowering the price of gas. In fact, it may be raising the price of gas, and it's having a devastating environmental effect in terms of coastal pollution." . . .


The new serious externality for the government to solve: One million car accidents per year in the UK from drivers distracted by scantily clad women

So I am waiting for liberal academics advocating a lack of clothing tax.


The campaign Obama promised and what he delivered

Even the media must begin to acknowledge how much more vicious Obama's campaign has been.  From today's Washington Post:

In the innocent, bygone days of February, President Obama told NBC News that the campaign would get negative against him, but provided this assurance: “I think that you will be able to see how we conduct ourselves in the campaign. I think it will be consistent with how I conducted myself in 2008 and hopefully how I have conducted myself as president of the United States.” 
Not since Gary Hart urged reporters to follow him around because “they’d be very bored” has an assurance been more of an indictment. The Obama campaign has targeted and intimidated Republican donors on an Internet enemies list. It has engaged in the juvenile mockery of Mitt Romney’s singing. It has suggested, without evidence, that Romney may have committed the felony of falsifying Federal Election Commission documents. It has speculated, without proof, that Romney has avoided paying taxes. When Joe Biden engages in racially charged hyperbole, he is awkwardly but accurately reflecting the spirit of the 2012 Obama campaign. 
But the most vivid accusation (made by a closely associated PAC and embraced by the campaign itself) is that Romney’s ruthless business practices were responsible for the closing of a firm, the loss of a couple’s health insurance and thus the death of a woman from cancer. Except that Romney wasn’t connected to the closing of the firm, the woman continued to have health insurance from another source and her cancer was diagnosed five years after the plant shut down. . . .


Updating Photo ID laws: Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are the key tests

Only five states are currently scheduled to have Photo IDs and the only state where it is likely to make a big difference is Pennsylvania.  Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, and Tennessee are safely Republican states this year.  For that matter, despite the legal appeals regarding Texas and South Carolina, they are also not really contested.  The only other state besides Pennsylvania where the new law could make a big difference is Wisconsin.  This is from Real Clear Politics:

Jennie Bowser of the National Conference of State Legislatures classifies nine of the measures as “strict photo ID laws,” meaning that prospective voters who show up at the polls without required identification have little recourse. They can cast a provisional ballot, but it won’t count unless they make a subsequent visit to the elections office with the required identification. 
Five states will use these strict laws in November: Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Two state judges have blocked Wisconsin’s law. Laws in Texas and South Carolina were denied pre-clearance by the Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act and are awaiting action by a D.C. federal court. A Mississippi law is in the early stages of pre-clearance. . . .
The court decision in Pennsylvania this week was thus a major victory.  As the WSJ wrote:
Voters who show up at their polling place without an ID will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot and present proof of identity within six days. Indigent voters may also cast a provisional ballot and sign a statement saying they couldn't obtain the necessary documents. Does all of this plausibly add up to voter suppression? . . .
Where Wisconsin stands on its Photo ID law is available here. Democrats are fighting hard in Texas and South Carolina, not because they think that it will dramatically alter those state's elections, but because they worry that if more states have these laws, it will be harder for them to claim that Photo ID laws have the bad effects that they claim.

Labels: ,

Found a place with a lot of reviews of my books


Will history be kind to TARP?: No, if the accounting is done accurately.

WSJ: Bank CEO: History Will be Kind to TARP
“TARP successfully stabilized not only the banking industry but a number of other industries as well. The general view I would have is that history will be fairly kind to TARP,” Sterling Financial Corp. Chief Executive Greg Seibly said in an interview.
The Treasury Department this week announced that it expects to earn about $113.3 million in a public offering of the shares it holds in the Spokane, Wash.-based bank. Treasury also has received about $6.7 million in dividends from Sterling, and will get yet a little more back when it sells warrants it continues to own.
Still, it’s a steep discount and a clear net loss on the original investment of $303 million.
Overall, Treasury estimates that TARP will cost taxpayers $47.75 billion, largely due to expenses related to the auto bailout and housing programs.
TARP’s bank programs turned a profit, though Treasury is now selling off holdings in smaller banks at a discount. Sterling is the latest example. . . .
Is this really serious?   The GM loss is dramatically underestimated by the TARP accounting methods.  I suspect that bank losses are also underestimated for a similar reason.  Total subsidies should be measured, not just TARP subsidies.  In GM's case, tens of billions of dollars given to the company raises the value of the stock and also gave it the money to pay off the loans that it had received.  Those higher stock prices didn't come free.  In the case of banks, I suspect that all the subsidies given to the banks through the Fed were nontrivial and should also be counted.

Labels: , , ,

NY Times' David Leonhardt confuses the parts for the whole

David Leonhardt at the New York Times has this ringing defense of Keynesianism.  The problem is that just because moving a lot of money from the rest of the country to Washington DC doesn't mean that the country as a whole is being helped.  The states that are losing money are hurt.  DC is helped.  But that doesn't mean that all this movement of money makes the economy as a whole better.
Some of the local prosperity [in DC], of course, is not worth celebrating. It stems from what economists call rent-seeking — tapping into the economic value created by someone else, rather than creating new value. 
In Washington’s case, the rent-seeking takes the form of capturing even a small portion of the financial gusher flowing to and from the federal government. The lobbyists, consultants and defense contractors building some of those mansions in McLean and Potomac are doing so, in effect, with government dollars from military or Medicare or other budgets. As most of the country continues to struggle through an agonizingly slow recovery, Washington uncomfortably calls to mind the rapacious Capitol in Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” series. 
Still, Washington’s good times are not all — or even mostly — about rent-seeking. The region has two legitimate economic lessons to offer the rest of the country. 
The narrower of the two is a reminder that, for all its unpopularity, a Keynesian response to an economic crisis really can make a difference. The Washington area’s households and businesses have cut back in recent years, too, but their frugality has been offset by steady government spending. If anything, government has helped fill the void, with the District of Columbia’s having received more stimulus dollars per capita than any state, according to an analysis by ProPublica. 
In the worldwide experiment on fiscal policy that’s been run during the past few years, Washington has joined China firmly in the stimulus camp. Much of the rest of the United States, where almost two million state and local government jobs have disappeared, looks more like austerity-hobbled Europe. 
Washington’s second lesson is arguably even more important. If you wanted to imagine what the economy might look like if the country were much better educated, you can look at Washington. . . .
Leonhardt points to DC having the lowest June unemployment rate of the 20 largest metro areas (here is the BLS data for July).  On housing prices, the DC area went from falling more than the national average to improving relative to it (see here for graphics from NY Times).

Labels: , ,

The briefs filed in the Fisher v. Texas Affirmative Action case are available here

The University of Texas provides the briefs here.  17 Amicus briefs were file to support the petitioner (those opposing affirmative action).  71 Amicus briefs support the University of Texas.

Labels: ,

Meanwhile Obama defends Biden's comment to a group of mainly blacks that Republicans want to put them back in chains

Biden's remarks are available here:

Fox News provides the remarks some context by mentioning in more detail than other reports the racial composition of the audience.
The nation's first elected black governor, Doug Wilder of Virginia, has lambasted Vice President Joe Biden on national television for his comment Tuesday about banks keeping people "in chains."
Wilder, a Democrat and a grandson of slaves, echoed indignant Republican claims that Biden's remarks before a largely black crowd in Danville, Va., brought racism into the presidential race. . . .
Politico (citing a segment on CNN) has this discussion by Former Democratic Rep. and 2008 cochair of the Obama campaign Artur Davis:
"I know what Joe Biden was doing yesterday and every black person in the room knew who the y’all was, they knew what the chains were about, knew what the metaphor was. And I will give that audience credit... It’s a divisive tactic that’s insulting to African-Americans, it’s insulting to the American people, it’s an insult to the legacy that he used to build up as an orator that used to inspire people … and it ought to embarrass President Obama."
It has recently been announced that Mr. Davis will speak at the Republican National Convention so his comments might be dismissed as someone who has already left the tent as an important Obama supporter, but the same cannot be said of Mr. Wilder.  The People Magazine (via Politico) reports this:
Biden's comment sparked Romney to call the Obama campaign one of "division and hate and anger." But Obama, speaking to PEOPLE in Dubuque, Iowa, seemed unrattled by the controversy. He said Biden's words needed to be considered in context; that he was only saying "you, consumers, the American people, will be a lot worse off if we repeal these [Wall Street reform] laws as the other side is suggesting."
"In no sense was he trying to connote something other than that," Obama added. . . .
CNN has this discussion.

 You can see ABC News' has a discussion available here, but the report doesn't mention in any way the composition of the audience, which is extremely important.

My summary: I am happy to give Mr. Biden the benefit of the doubt if he says that he simply misspoke, but it is very clear that Obama and Democrats have long been playing up racism issues to motivate black voters.  Take this example:
Angela Rye, Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus, argued that President Obama has struggled during his first term due to racially-motivated opposition from conservatives who dislike having a black president.
"This is probably the toughest presidential term in my lifetime," Rye said during CSPAN's Q&A yesterday. "I think that a lot of what the president has experienced is because he's black. You know, whether it's questioning his intellect or whether or not he's Ivy League. It's always either he's not educated enough or he's too educated; or he's too black or he's not black enough; he's too Christian or not Christian enough. There are all these things where he has to walk this very fine line to even be successful." . . .
 Of course, Obama claims that he has always tried to bring the country together.
"We're going around the country, talking about, ‘How do we put people back to work? How do we improve our schools? How do we make sure that we're producing American energy? How do we lower our debt in a responsible way?' And I don't think you or anybody who's been watching the campaign would say that in any way we have tried to divide the country. We've always tried to bring the country together," President Obama said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.

From Fox News:
New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, a Democrat and Congressional Black Caucus member, says Vice President Biden’s recent "chains" gaffe was indeed a reference to slavery despite the Obama campaign's denial.
Rangel told the The Perez Notes radio show: “Was he talking about slavery? You bet your ass he was. Was he using the vernacular? Yes, he was. Did he think it was cute? Yes, he did. Was it something stupid to say? You bet your life it was stupid.” . . .

Labels: , ,


Most voters think that reporters will do what is necessary to get Obama elected

New Rasmussen survey shows that there is little doubt in most American's mind who reporters want to win.
Fifty-one percent (51%) of voters think looking ahead to the fall campaign that most reporters will try to help the president, while only nine percent (9%) feel they will try to help Romney. Just one-in-five voters (22%) believes most reporters will try to offer unbiased coverage. Eighteen percent (18%) are undecided. 
These findings are nearly identical to those just before Election Day in November 2008. At that time, 51% of voters felt most reporters had tried to help Obama win the presidency, while only seven percent (7%) thought they had tried to help Republican candidate John McCain. . . .

Labels: ,

Obama cutting $716 billion from Medicare

What the CBO is reporting here is that without Obamacare Medicare would be spending an estimated $716 billion more over the next ten years.  The savings come from reducing how much doctors and hospitals get paid.
TheACA made numerous changes to payment rates and payment rules in those programs, established a voluntary federal program for long-term care insurance through the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports(CLASS) provisions, and made certain other changes to federal health programs. In total, CBO estimates that repealing those provisions would increase net federal spending by $711 billion over the 2013–2022 period. (Those budgetary effects are summarized in Table 1. 
Spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013–2022 period. Federal spending for Medicaid and CHIP would increase by about $25 billion from repealing the noncoverage provisions of the ACA, and direct spending for other programs would decrease by about $30 billion, CBO estimates.  . . .
Of course, Obama just denies that this is the equivalent of reducing benefits.
President Obama on Saturday pushed back at Republican accusations that he “raided” Medicare to fund his signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, and accused Mitt Romney of “overheated rhetoric at election time.” 
“We gave seniors deeper discounts on prescription drugs, and made sure preventive care like mammograms are free without a co-pay,” Obama said in his weekly White House address. “We’ve extended the life of Medicare by almost a decade and I’ve proposed reforms that will save Medicare money by getting rid of wasteful spending in the healthcare system and reining in insurance companies – reforms that won’t touch your guaranteed Medicare benefits. Not by a single dime.” 
Mitt Romney’s campaign has been on the offensive over Medicare since adding Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to the GOP ticket, believing that the budget Ryan authored, which would allow Medicare beneficiaries to choose between traditional Medicare and federal subsidies with which to buy private insurance, could be a liability to their campaign. . . .

Labels: , ,

Biden in the wrong century again and about GM being "largest automobile maker in the world"

I haven't tried to keep track of Biden's misstatements -- they are simply too numerous.  But here is one he said today: "Once again General Motors is the largest automobile maker in the world.  Folks, where's it written we cannot lead the world in the 20th century in making automobiles?"  

Clearly, Vice President Biden is in the wrong century.  In addition, he didn't get the other part of the statement right either.

Forbes ranked Japan’s Toyota Motor as the second biggest car maker in 25th spot overall, up from 55th in 2011. German maker Daimler (Mercedes-Benz parent company) rose six spots to claim 37th place ahead of US maker Ford, which jumped 10 spots to 44th. Japan’s Honda Motor took 59th position, and German company BMW slotted in 61st. 
US poster boy General Motors came in seventh position among the car makers and 63rd overall (2011: 61). Nissan jumped by 181 spots to 85, while South Korean maker Hyundai was ranked 96th, up from 131 in 2011. . . .
Because of the earthquake in Japan last year, Toyota's output was temporarily constrained, but even with that if you look at the sale of vehicles, GM isn't the largest.

GM, which held the spot for almost eight decades before being dethroned by Toyota Motor Corp. -0.16% in 2008, on Thursday disclosed it sold a bit more than nine million cars and trucks worldwide last year, a 7.6% rise over 2010. That would put it ahead of VW, which recently reported global sales totaled 8.16 million vehicles last year.
But shortly after GM's disclosure, Volkswagen argued it, in fact, was the top-seller last year if sales of its affiliates are included. Volkswagen's figures don't include the contributions of majority-ownership stakes in truck makers MAN SE and Scania AB, which will be added in a few weeks, a Volkswagen spokesman said. The truck makers might add 200,000 vehicles to VW's sales total.
GM's rivals also point out that the big U.S. auto maker's numbers are boosted by ownership stakes in China's SAIC Motor Corp. and Liuzhou Wuling Motors Co. While SAIC builds GM cars in China, Wuling's 1.2 million vehicles last year are mostly cheap commercial vehicles used only in China. . . .
Here is another misstatement by Biden where he refers to Paul Ryan as "Governor Ryan."

Labels: , ,

Shooting attack at the Family Research Council in DC

Apparently this shooter fired his gun first at the security guard, which is exactly what one would expect.  Fortunately, the guard was only wounded.  From Fox News:

A security guard at the Family Research Council's headquarters in Washington, D.C. is being hailed as a hero after he stopped a gunman posing as an intern, taking a bullet in the arm before wrestling the suspect to the ground. 
The gunman entered the lobby of the organization's Chinatown headquarters around 10:45 and expressed disagreement with the conservative group's policy positions, Fox News has learned. When the guard, who was not identified, asked him where he was going, he opened fire, according to police. 
“The security guard here is a hero, as far as I’m concerned,” D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said. ”He did his job. The person never made it past the front.” 
The guard, who was not identified, was shot in the arm and was conscious after the shooting and was in stable condition. . . . 
The suspect "made statements regarding their policies, and then opened fire with a gun striking a security guard," a source told Fox News. WJLA-TV7 reported the suspect was also shot. Sources also said the gunman may have been carrying a bag from Chick-fil-A, the embattled fast-food restaurant whose president came under fire from gay activists after he said he did not agree with same-sex marriage. 
Sources told Fox New that after guard took away his gun, the suspect said, "Don't shoot me, it was not about you, it was what this place stands for." . . .
CNN reports this quite differently stating: "it was too early to say whether the organization was targeted for its political views." Their report mentions a range of issues pushed by the Family Research Council, with the last one being same-sex marriage.


House of Representatives sue Obama adm for refusing info in Fast & Furious case

The Obama administration has no desire to provide these documents and no justifiable reason for not providing them.  The Obama people keep saying that they will negotiate on them, but then nothing happens.  From the WSJ:
. . . The filing was expected after the House voted in June to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over the Justice Department's refusal to release certain documents. The agency has turned over more than 7,000 pages related to Fast and Furious, but the White House cited executive privilege in rejecting requests for other documents that mostly concern how Justice leaders reacted when they learned of Fast and Furious. . . .  
"Waiting nearly eight months after the subpoena had been issued to assert a meritless claim of privilege, the president's decision was a calculated political maneuver designed to stop the release of documents until after November's election," Mr. Issa said in a news release. 
The 41-page suit, filed in federal court in Washington, says accepting the Obama administration's definition of executive privilege would "cripple congressional oversight of executive branch agencies, to the very great detriment of the nation and our constitutional structure." . . .  
When Congress began asking about possible gun-walking, Justice Department officials said none had taken place. They later retracted that statement; Mr. Holder has called Fast and Furious "bad law enforcement." The attorney general has said he and senior Justice Department officials weren't aware of the operation until after it was halted. . . . .

Labels: ,

Obama excludes Romney supporter from getting a free beer

So much for Obama's claimed like-ability.  This is the type of thing that I remember about the Obama that I knew in Chicago.
. . . A revealing moment came Monday, when Obama told a tent of drinkers at the Iowa State Fair that he’d buy a round of beers for 10 people, but not for one person carrying a sign of support for Romney.
At the beer tent, the drinkers “started chanting, ‘four more beers!’” according to the pool report.
“Potus said, ‘I’ll tell you what, except for Romney sign, I’ll buy beers for ten people,’” the report added. . . .
Romney is raising some important issues about Obama's personality.
Mitt Romney slammed Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday for making what Romney called an "outrageous charge" -- evidence, he said, of "an angry and desperate presidency." 
Romney, using some of his most pointed language to date on the campaign trail, accused Obama of running a "campaign of division and anger and hate," and specifically objected to comments Biden had made earlier Tuesday to a crowd in Virginia.
The vice president suggested that Romney and the Republicans intend to roll back Wall Street regulations and "put y'all back in chains." 
That remark drew a sharp response from Romney's campaign, which called it a "new low." Romney picked up on that line of attack at the campaign stop in Ohio, rolling out a speech he had spent  the last two days writing. In it, he pilloried the president’s record and accused him of being “intellectually exhausted.” 
“His campaign and his surrogates have made wild and reckless accusations that disgrace the office of the presidency,” Romney told a crowd of thousands gathered here at the final stop on his five-state bus tour. “Another outrageous charge came a few hours ago in Virginia. And the White House sinks a little bit lower. This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like." . . . 


So are movie theaters near where the Aurora, Colorado killer lived posted to prevent concealed carry?

As many now know, the Cinemark movie theaters in Colorado ban permit holders from carrying their guns into the movie theater.  The media mentions that the theater was "close to [the killer's] home," but where there other movie theaters?  What were the rules for guns at the other theaters?  Why might the killer have picked the movie theater that he did?  

To check that out, I went to movies.com and entered in an Aurora, Colorado zip code where the killer lived.  By the way, the number of theaters showing the movie went from 4,404 from July 20 to August 2 to 4,242 from August 3 to August 3 to 3,690 from August 10 to 15.  There has thus been a 16% drop off between opening weekend and when I checked on these facts on August 14th and 15th.

Below is the list of theaters that I obtained from the above link.  Of the seven theaters showing The Dark Knight Rises on July 20th that were within a 20 minute drive of the movie theater, six allowed permitted concealed handguns and only one denied them at the time of the attack.  

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners has a website where they have collected information on whether movie theaters have been posted as not allowing concealed carry available here.  The only theater that they note to where the killer lived that was posted was the Century Cinemark Theater.  However, I did not rely on their listing for any of the information provided below as it is based on permit holders reporting that information to the RMGO group.  Though it is interesting to note, that for movie theaters within 20 minutes of where the killer lived and showing The Dark Knight Rises, this source only lists the Century Cinemark Theater as the only place that posted a "no weapons" sign. 

Here is the relevant part of the Colorado law on the ability of private businesses to restrict concealed carry.
18-12-214 Authority granted by permit - carrying restrictions.(5) Nothing in this part 2 shall be construed to limit, restrict, or prohibit in any manner the existing rights of a private property owner, private tenant, private employer, or private business entity.
777 Peoria St., Aurora, CO 80011
888-588-2463/(303) 991-7022 (name withheld)/
Not posted (Theater visited by Michael McNulty)
Showing The Dark Knight Rises
1.22 miles (3 minutes)
Picture from Michael McNulty who visited the theater (August 20, 2012).
Confirmed that it has never been posted.

13682 East Alameda Avenue, Aurora, CO
(303) 344-3456 Press 9
Not posted
started showing Dark Knight Rises on Aug 17th.
3.72 miles (7 minutes)

Century Cinemark Theater -- where the attack occurred
14300 East Alameda Avenue, Aurora, CO 80012
No weapons allowed sign
Showed Dark Knight Rises
3.97 miles (8 minutes)

Harkins Northfield 18 (Billed as the home of Colorado's largest auditorium)
8300 E. Northfield Blvd., Denver, CO 80238 
(303) 595-4275 720-374-3118
Not posted at the time of the attack, the manager (name withheld) indicated that the policy had been changed since the Cinemark attack. 
Showing The Dark Knight Rises
5.13 miles (10 minutes)

Aurora Movie Tavern 
18605 East Hampden Avenue, Aurora, CO 80013-3533
(303) 680-9913
Not posted
Showing Dark Knight Rises
10.04 miles (18 minutes)

Elvis Cinemas Tiffany Plaza 6
7400 E. Hampden Ave, Denver, CO 80231
Not posted
Not showing The Dark Knight Rises
9.12 miles (18 minutes)

The Movie Tavern at Seven Hills

18305 E. Hampden Ave., Aurora, CO 80013
(303) 680-9913
Not posted
Showing The Dark Knight Rises
10.02 miles (19 minutes)

5415 Landmark Place, Greenwood Village, CO 80111
(303) 352-1908 (303) 779-0584
Not posted
Showing The Dark Knight Rises
12.88 miles (19 minutes)

UA Colorado Center Stadium 9 and IMAX
2000 S. Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO 80222
(303) 757-8665
Not posted
Showing The Dark Knight Rises
9.66 miles (20 minutes)

Esquire Theatre

590 Downing St., Denver, CO 80218
(303) 733-9939
Not showing The Dark Knight Rises
9.95 miles (21 minutes)

3635 S. Monaco Pkwy., Denver, CO 80237
(303) 758-6732
No weapons allowed sign
Showing The Dark Knight Rises
9.97 miles (21 minutes)

8141 E. Arapahoe Road, Englewood, CO 80112
(303) 741-2606
No weapons allowed sign, but told that people who have their permit with them are allowed to carry in there.

Arapahoe Crossings 16, 9969 South Parker Road Aurora (303) 766-3100
(303) 766-7200
No weapons allowed sign
Showing Dark Knight Rises
15.38 miles (23 minutes)

Mayan Theatre

110 Broadway, Denver, CO 80203
(303) 744-6799
Not Showing The Dark Knight Rises
9.29 miles (23 minutes)

AMC Southlands 16 23955 East Plaza Avenue Aurora 
(303) 627-5430
No weapons allowed sign
Not showing The Dark Knight Rises
20.47 miles (25 minutes)

Instead of reporting whether these attacks keep on occurring in gun-free zones, the media keeps reporting on irrelevant or incorrect issues.  The problem with the reporting isn't really whether they falsely claim that the Aurora theater killer was a member of the Tea Party or misstating a statement from the killer's mom.  No, what I am referring to involves claims that are made over and over again during these attacks, namely the claim that so-called "assault weapons" (a political term, not a useful descriptive term) are used in these crimes or whether the guns and ammunition were purchased legally.

UPDATE: Here is a story about the mayor of New Haven calling for a ban on concealed carry in movie theaters in his town.
A New Haven lawyer said he had every right to carry a loaded .40-caliber pistol into a Batman movie in downtown New Haven Tuesday night. Mayor John DeStefano said he shouldn’t be able to.
The remarks came at dueling press conferences Wednesday afternoon following an incident Tuesday evening at Criterion-Bow Tie movie theaters on Temple Street, where police arrested a lawyer who had carried a gun into the theater.
Sung-Ho Hwang (pictured at left), a 46-year-old lawyer and president-elect of the New Haven County Bar Association, was arrested Tuesday night at an evening showing of the latest Batman movie at the Criterion. Three patrons saw him carry a gun into the theater and— on the heels of a mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo. screening of the same movie last month—called the cops. They swept into the theater and charged Hwang with breach of peace and interfering after he allegedly refused to obey orders to show his hands.
Hwang was carrying a gun in a holster at the small of his back. He has a permit to carry the gun and said Wednesday afternoon that he had done nothing wrong. . . .

Labels: ,


Michelle Obama wanted race-based faculty hiring

Here is what she wrote for the Harvard’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA) back in 1988.  Her maiden name was Michelle Robinson.  What is surprised is how she views even the most benign questions as filed with racial implications: "One should not be surprised when one hears the rude statements and questions posed by students to professors Wilkins and Ogletree like 'Are you sure you've interpreted this correctly?' or 'I don't think you understand what this statute says.'"

She objects to the notion that only those who have done well in school, the traditional method of picking faculty, can serve the students well.  She writes about the misleading notion that Harvard faculty should be "'Only people on Law Review can become good teachers', 'Only people who have clerked on the Supreme Court can become good teachers' . . . "

Click on pictures to make them larger.

Labels: ,

Why you don't want to rob a gun store, apparently even at night in this case

A gun store owner apparently used an AR-15 with a 30 round magazine to stop three men from robbing his gun store at 4 AM.  What can make a gun useful for a criminal can also make it useful to a victim who wants to defend him or herself.  This story is from Aiken Standard (Georgia) (with video):

At least one person is dead and two have been injured after the owner of a gun store was robbed early this morning and shot at the intruders during the break-in, officials said.
The victim has been identified as 20-year-old K'Raven Aude Goodwin of Eastover, S.C. According to officials, Goodwin died from multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival at the Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center in Augusta, Ga.
Another man is in the emergency room and a third is in surgery, said Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton.
The break-in occurred around 4 a.m. at the Guns and Ammo Gunsmith, located on Edgefield Road in North Augusta.
The events surrounding the shooting unfolded when deputies learned of a break-in at the gun store and that two men were at the Waffle House on Martintown Road seeking medical help for gunshot wounds, said Aiken County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Jason Feemster.
One suspect was still at the gun store and injured, police said. Police also found a vehicle had crashed into the side of the business.
"They used a van as a way to get in," Feemster said.
The business owner, Stephen Bayazes Jr., who reportedly lives in the rear of the business, reportedly heard a loud crash and the store alarm went off, police said. He then went to check on the store, and said he found three males in the store, police said.
"That's when there was gunfire," Feemster said. Feemster said Bayazes advised police that one of the suspects verbally threatened him with death when they saw him, and Bayazes stated he then began shooting at the suspects. Bayazes told police he then retreated to his apartment and, that upon his return to the front of the store, a van was leaving. He also found a wounded suspect still at the shop, police said.
The business owner was not injured, he said. . . .
More information on the gun used by the store owner is available here:
A North Augusta gun store owner used a semi-automatic weapon when he opened fire on three men who broke into his business early Thursday, killing one and sending two others to the hospital with gunshot wounds, officials said. . . .
Police said he got out of bed, grabbed his AR-15 weapon and found three men inside the store.
The men crashed a vehicle into the business and were smashing display cases and taking guns when he said he heard one of the men shout, "kill that (expletive deleted )."
He told investigators he emptied a .223-caliber 30-round magazine and then retreated to his room to reload. . . . 
Thanks to Scott Nathan for bringing this story to my attention. 


This should have been obvious to everyone: "Zimmerman defense lawyers won't argue 'stand-your-ground' in Florida shooting case"

With all the ink spilled over claiming that this was a Stand Your Ground case, it will be nice to see some of the retractions.  From Fox News:

The attorney for the man who shot and killed unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin said Monday he'll seek to get the case dismissed using a traditional self-defense argument and not the state's "stand your ground" statute.
Mark O'Mara, who is defending George Zimmerman against a second-degree murder charge in the fatal February shooting, said the traditional self-defense approach is appropriate because the facts suggest his client couldn't retreat from a beating Martin was giving him.
Zimmerman's attorneys had said last week that they would use Florida's controverial "stand your ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force -- rather than retreat -- if they believe their lives are in danger.
"The facts don't seem to support a `stand your ground' defense," O'Mara said. . . .

Labels: ,


Newest piece at Real Clear Markets: President Obama, and the Myth About 4.5 Million New Jobs

My newest piece starts this way:
Has the U.S. job market been improving during the recovery? The Obama administration likes to point to the 22 months of consecutive job growth. The recovery itself supposedly started in July 2009. Quite frequently, the Administration has presented charts like the following, with the impressive long string of bars showing positive job growth. . . .

Labels: ,

Some notes on claims about Australia's crime rates

After the attack at the Aurora movie theater, there have been a lot of discussion about Australia's gun control laws.  For example, see this piece at the Huffington Post
decade-long examination of the program in the journal "Injury Prevention" concluded that "chances of gun death in Australia dropped twice as steeply" after the program was implemented. A study by Harvard University in the Spring of 2011 suggested that the program helped reduce, either causally or directly, firearm deaths, gun-related suicides and accidental shootings. The Washington Post, summarizing many of the studies, concluded that there was "strong circumstantial evidence for the law's effectiveness." . . .
Of course, the Huffington Post ignores that more sophisticated research finds no benefit from these laws.  A paper by Lee and Suardi in Economic Inquiry in 2009 does an excellent job of looking at the issue.

Here is the actual data from Australia.  First note that gun ownership exhibits a very interesting pattern that isn't often acknowledged.  There was a large gun buyback in 1996 and 1997 that reduced gun ownership from 3.2 to 2.2 million guns.  But immediately after that gun ownership increased dramatically and is essentially back to where it was before the buyback.  Why is that important?  Well, if it is the number of guns that is important, you should initially see a large drop in suicides or crimes and then see it increasing.  Yet, in none of these data series do you observe that pattern.
For example, homicides didn't fall until eight years after the laws.  It is not clear what theory they have for why the long delay would occur.  Nor can I even find an acknowledgment of that long lag in the cited literature.   A more natural explanation for the drop at the eight year point would be the substantial increases in police forces that occurred at that time.

Crime can change for lots of reasons besides changes in gun control laws.  One way to get a handle on this is to see how Australian homicides are changing relative to other crime rates.  A single continuous crime data series isn't available, but the two diagrams below show how homicides is falling almost continuously as a fraction of violent crime.  If anything, the drop in homicides relative to overall violent crime was biggest in the 1970s.  

See also homicides relative to overall crime.  Again, it is very hard to see any benefit from the gun control laws.

UPDATE: Comments on the Huffington Post Show today.  Purely cross-sectional evidence in references to the UK, Germany, etc. doesn't mention that homicide rates were even lower relative to the US before they had gun control.  The graph that they showed across countries (at about 12:55) makes it look like the US has a similar murder rate to other countries such as Russia, Mexico, and other South American countries.  For further information see here and here.  

Finally, despite all the claims to the contrary, Australia didn't ban guns, though it did impose stricter criteria for people to own certain types of guns.

UPDATE 2: Ann Coulter has this interesting discussion of a New York Times piece by Rosenthal claiming "More Guns = More Killing":
Rosenthal also produces a demonstrably false statistic about Australia's gun laws, as if it's a fact that has been carefully vetted by the Newspaper of Record, throwing in the true source only at the tail-end of the paragraph:
"After a gruesome mass murder in 1996 provoked public outrage, Australia enacted stricter gun laws, including a 28-day waiting period before purchase and a ban on semiautomatic weapons. ... Since, rates of both homicide and suicide have dropped 50 percent ...," said Ms. Peters, who lobbied for the legislation." . . .
Whether or not the homicide rate went up or down in Australia as a result of strict gun control laws imposed in 1997 is a fact that could have been checked by Times researchers. But they didn't, because facts wouldn't have given them the answer they wanted.
Needless to say, the effect of Australia's gun ban has been extensively researched by Australian academics. As numerous studies have shown: After the gun ban, gun homicides in Australia did not decline any more than they were expected to without a gun ban.Thus, for example, according to the Australian Institute of Criminology, the homicide rate has been in steady decline from 1969 to the present, with only one marked uptick in 1998-99 -- right after the gun ban was enacted.
The showstopper for anti-gun activists like Ms. Rosenthal and Ms. Peters is the fact that suicides by firearm seemed to decrease more than expected after the 1997 gun ban.
But so did suicides by other means. Something other than the gun ban must have caused people to stop guzzling poison and jumping off bridges. (Some speculate that it's the availability of anti-depressants like Prozac.)
Curiously -- and not mentioned by Rosenthal -- the number of accidental firearms deaths skyrocketed after Australia's 1997 gun ban, although the law included stringent gun training requirements.
It turns out, until the coroner has certified a death as a "suicide," it's classified as "unintentional." So either mandatory gun training has led to more accidents, or a lot of suicides are ending up in the "accident" column.
Most pinheadedly, especially for a graduate of the Harvard Medical School, Rosenthal says: "Before (the gun ban), Australia had averaged one mass shooting a year. (Since then,) there have been no mass killings."
Mass murder is a rare enough crime that any statistician will tell you discerning trends is impossible. In this country, the FBI doesn't even track mass murder as a specific crime category. . . .
Totally unbeknownst to Elisabeth Rosenthal, Australian academics have already examined the mass murder rate by firearm by comparing Australia to a control country: New Zealand. (Do they teach "control groups" at Harvard?)
New Zealand is strikingly similar to Australia. Both are isolated island nations, demographically and socioeconomically similar. Their mass murder rate before Australia's gun ban was nearly identical: From 1980 to 1996, Australia's mass murder rate was 0.0042 incidents per 100,000 people and New Zealand's was 0.0050 incidents per 100,000 people.
The principal difference is that, post-1997, New Zealand remained armed to the teeth -- including with guns that were suddenly banned in Australia.
While it's true that Australia has had no more mass shootings since its gun ban, neither has New Zealand, despite continuing to be massively armed.
. . .

The paper by McPhedran and Baker that Ann might be citing has some interesting facts.  I frequently hear about the mass public shootings in Australia prior to the 1996 law, but it turns out that there were only 4 of them between 1980 and 1996.  8 other attacks were "domestic" attacks.  If you look at total multiple victim-suicide attacks in Australia, the attacks are hardly eliminated after 1996.


A discussion of Europe is available here.
Mayor Bloomberg's proposals are discussed in the Wall Street Journal here.
So-called assault weapon bans are discussed here.
The importance of gun free zones is discussed here.
Other gun control laws that could impact these public mass shootings is discussed here.
See also ALER piece here.

Labels: , , , ,