10/20/2012

What is the rate that people accidentally fly with guns on planes?

There are two interesting numbers that can be put together here.

1) Apparently, past security checks have indicated that TSA fail to detect knives and guns about 70 percent of the time.


If you put those two numbers together, you get the implication that more than 3,422 firearms improperly made it on to flights in the US this year (=1,110 * (70/30) * (4/3)).  (Likely this is lower because the failure to detect rate is probably lower for guns and higher for knives (which are thinner and easier to hide).)  That seems like a lot of guns on planes, yet how many problems arose from all these guns?  It looks to me like there were zero problems.  Obviously, a lot of these people don't know that they have a gun with them when they are flying, so it provides only limited information on how safe it is for people to knowingly fly with guns on planes.

I started thinking about this issue because of this story in the Detroit News: 
Anthony Adams, formerly a Detroit deputy major and school board president, was arrested Thursday afternoon at Detroit Metro Airport after a loaded gun was found in his carry-on bag at a security checkpoint.

Michael Conway, a spokesman for the airport, confirmed Adams was arrested and his .40 caliber handgun confiscated Thursday around 5 p.m. as he was going through McNamara Terminal airport security.

"He was very apologetic. He said he forgot it was in the bag. He and his wife were rushing to get on the plane," said Conway. Adams served as deputy mayor under Kwame Kilpatrick and is among the defense witnesses in the bid-rigging trial of Bobby Ferguson. Adams served as the president of the school board for Detroit Public Schools until his resignation last year.
Conway said police took Adams for questioning and determined the gun was registered to him and he had a permit to carry it. They released him. He missed his flight but was able to fly later, he said. . . .

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Are Democrats finding ways around campaign finance laws?

Suppose that Obama loses the election.  He obviously isn't going to run for any other office in the future.  So if his campaign gets a loan, it would seem fairly likely that the campaign would default on the loan.  The Free Beacon has this interesting information:
Obama For America took out a $15 million loan from Bank of America last monthaccording to the campaign’s October monthly FEC report. The loan was incurred on September 4 and is due November 14, eight days after the election. OFA received an interest rate of 2.5% plus the current Libor rate. 
Warren Buffett, Obama donor and namesake of the infamous “Buffett Rule,” invested $5 billion in Bank of America last year in an effort to help the ailing financial institution. . . .
Surely this is a fairly high risk loan and it doesn't seem like the interest rate on this loan comes anywhere near to close to covering that risk. To judge whether this loan is fair, it would be interesting to know what type of collateral has been offered to secure it.  This certainly seems like one way to get around the campaign finance rules.

Contrast this loan with a loan to the Democratic National Committee:

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) now owes $15 million to the union-owned Amalgamated Bank of New York,campaign finance records show.
The DNC received a $7 million loan from the bank in September, in addition to the $8 million loan it took out the previous month, neither of which has been paid back. The loans account for the majority of the committee’s $20 million in total debt.
The DNC paid Amalgamated Bank more than $18,000 in loan interest for the month of September, the records show.
Amalgamated Bank, often described as “America’s Labor Bank,” is a national entity, the majority of which is owned by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a large, politically active union with deep ties to the Democratic Party. . . .
The big difference is that the DNC will be around after the election.  Though even in that case, it would be useful to make sure that the entire loan is eventually paid off.

UPDATE: "Obama campaign accepted foreign Web donation -- and may be hiding more"
The Obama re-election campaign has accepted at least one foreign donation in violation of the law — and does nothing to check on the provenance of millions of dollars in other contributions, a watchdog group alleges.
Chris Walker, a British citizen who lives outside London, told The Post he was able to make two $5 donations to President Obama’s campaign this month through its Web site while a similar attempt to give Mitt Romney cash was rejected. It is illegal to knowingly solicit or accept money from foreign citizens.
Walker said he used his actual street address in England but entered Arkansas as his state with the Schenectady, NY, ZIP code of 12345.
“When I did Romney’s, the payment got rejected on the grounds that the address on the card did not match the address that I entered,” he said. “Romney’s Web site wanted the code from the back of card. Barack Obama’s didn’t.”
In September, Obama’s campaign took in more than $2 million from donors who provided no ZIP code or incomplete ZIP codes, according to data posted on the Federal Election Commission Web site. . . .
UPDATE:  Here is another example of inkind donations: "Academic ‘Dream Team’ Helped Obama’s Effort"
In addition to Dr. Fox, the consortium included Susan T. Fiske of Princeton University; Samuel L. Popkin of the University of California, San Diego; Robert Cialdini, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University; Richard H. Thaler, a professor of behavioral science and economics at the University of Chicago’s business school; and Michael Morris, a psychologist at Columbia. . . .
UPDATE: The benefits from these donations just seem to go on and on.  From the Washington Post:
If you voted this election season, President Obama almost certainly has a file on you. His vast campaign database includes information on voters’ magazine subscriptions, car registrations, housing values and hunting licenses, along with scores estimating how likely they were to cast ballots for his reelection. 
And although the election is over, Obama’s database is just getting started. 
Democrats are pressing to expand and redeploy the most sophisticated voter list in history, beginning with next year’s gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey and extending to campaigns for years to come. The prospect already has some Republicans worried. 
“It’s always hard to play catch-up,” said Peter Pasi, a Republican direct marketer who worked on Rick Santorum’s presidential primary campaign. 
“It can be done by 2016. I’m much more doubtful it can happen by 2014.” 
The database consists of voting records and political donation histories bolstered by vast amounts of personal but publicly available consumer data, say campaign officials and others familiar with the operation. It could record hundreds of pieces of information for each voter. . . .

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Does giving free pot to get people to vote create a bias in who votes?

There is an interesting case in California:

Fliers offering $40 worth of free medical-grade marijuana were reportedly passed out in Eagle Rock to try and draw residents to vote in the local election.
Was the free pot an incentive to get a larger turnout? Politics ranked “high” on resident’s list of priorities. Nearly 10 times as many voters – 792 residents – turned out to the polls during the recent Neighborhood Council elections than last year.
“It’s a little weird that people can’t come out and vote on their own. I see that as a problem, as a social symptom,” Eagle Rock resident Joerael Elliott said. . . .
My question is whether this impacts the out come of the election (the news article does say whether there was a change in election results).  However, even if this inducement is made available to all potential voters, that seems very likely to be the case here.  My guess is that giving out free pot induces more liberal people to vote.  Even giving out cash might skew the type of person who is showing up to vote.

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Can welfare payments sway the election?

While he was a senator, Phil Gramm often used the term people in the wagon versus pulling the wagon. He and Michael Solon have this in the WSJ:
. . . In 1980 and 1992, only 3% of the American labor force drew disability benefits from the government. Today it is 6%. The number of workers qualifying for disability since the recession ended in 2009 has grown twice as fast as private employment. 
How would Presidents Jimmy Carter or George H.W. Bush have fared on their Election Day if 40% of the Americans who were unemployed had instead qualified for disability benefits? How would voters have reacted in 1980 or 1992 if food-stamp benefits had grown by 65% instead of an average of less than 25% during the first four years of their administrations? 
During the past four years, the Obama administration's aggressive promotion of the food-stamp program has increased the number of recipients by 18.5 million. Do these people feel the same level of discontent about economic conditions as the rest of the voting population? 
Unemployment insurance that lasted no longer than 55 weeks in 1980 and 72 weeks in 1992 now can last 99 weeks. Does this ease the distress level of the 40% of unemployed workers who have been out of work for more than half a year? 
The federal government's 120 means-tested programs today provide $1 trillion of benefits. The spending for these programs has grown 2½ times faster during the Obama presidency than in any other comparable period in American history. To what extent might these benefits not just foster dependency but also make the economy's performance seem less of a deciding factor in voters' choices? . . .
More on this issue is provided by Larry Kudlow here.
In a larger budget context, reporter Jeffrey H. Anderson uses a Treasury Department study to chronicle the 7-Eleven presidency. In fiscal year 2012, ending Sept. 30, the government spent nearly $11 for every $7 of revenues taken in. The exact figures are $2.5 trillion in tax revenues and $3.5 trillion in spending. In other words, it spent 44 percent more than it had coming in. 
Previous fiscal years look even worse: The government spent 56 percent more than revenues in fiscal year 2011 and 60 percent more in fiscal year 2010. 
All in all, according to Anderson, the government under the Obama administration received $6.8 trillion in taxes and spent $10.7 trillion -- 56 percent more than it had available. . . .

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"Welfare Spending The Largest Item In The Federal Budget"

The exclusively federal share of spending on means-tested federal welfare spending federal programs is up 32 percent since 2008, and now comprises 21 percent of federal outlays.  The total amount spent on these 80-plus federal welfare programs by both the federal and state governments amounts to roughly $1.03 trillion.  See an additional discussion available here.

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Top Obama aide advises him and represent companies at the same time

So if Ms. Dunn is keeping such a strict separation between her political role and what she is offering the companies, what exactly are they paying for?  I also thought that Obama had made promises about not hiring lobbyists to work in his administration. He was extremely clear on this: “When I Am President, They [Lobbyists] Won’t Find A Job In My White House.”  From the New York Times:
. . . As a confidante of President Obama and a senior campaign adviser, Ms. Dunn has helped prepare him for the debates this month, plotted campaign strategy and acted as a surrogate of sorts in attacking Mitt Romney for a “backward-looking attitude” on issues like women’s rights and health care. 
She and her colleagues at SKDKnickerbocker, a communications firm, have built a growing list of blue-chip companies — food manufacturers, a military contractor, the New York Stock Exchange and the Canadian company developing the Keystone XL pipeline — willing to pay handsomely for help in winning over federal regulators or landing government contracts. Some clients and lobbyists who have teamed up with SKDK say they benefit from the firm’s ability to provide information about the Obama administration’s views. 
“It is difficult to penetrate this administration,” said Jason Mahler, a lobbyist for the computer technology company Oracle, which was part of a coalition that hired Ms. Dunn’s firm to push for reduced tax rates on offshore profits. “Anyone that has an insight into what they are thinking or their strategy or thoughts on issues we are working on is helpful, and they provided that.” 
SKDK executives said that Ms. Dunn, who declined to be interviewed, was scrupulous about separating her political work from her corporate agenda, and that she followed White House ethics rules barring her from appealing on behalf of clients. 
What the firm offers, said Hilary Rosen, an SKDK partner who is also a high-profile Obama ally, is help in navigating the political landscape in Washington. . . . 
Even as he pledged to curb the influence of special interests in the capital and has restricted the role of lobbyists in his administration, the president and his top aides continue to rely on political operatives like Ms. Dunn who also represent clients seeking to influence public policy. . . .

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10/19/2012

Oklahoma girl, 12, shot suspected burglar

I wonder how many news organizations will pick up this interesting news story.  My guess is that there will be very few.  If this was from someplace other than a place like Oklahoma, I don't think that this would have even gotten on the Associate Press wire.  From Durant, Oklahoma:
Authorities say a 12-year-old girl shot and wounded a man who kicked in the back door of her home. 
Oklahoma City television station KWTV reports the incident happened Wednesday in Bryan County. The girl told police that a stranger rang the doorbell, then went around to the back door and kicked it in. 
Police say the girl called her mother, who told her to get the family's gun, hide in a closet and call 911. Authorities say the man came into the room where she was hiding and tried to open the closet door. . . .

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"Conservative Iowa Woman Sues Law School Claiming They Didn’t Hire Her Because of Her Politics"

10/18/2012

Bill Clinton: "It is true [the economy is] not fixed."



Bill Clinton at a campaign event in Ohio (October 18, 2012): "Governor Romney's argument is, we're not fixed, so fire him and put me in.  It is true we're not fixed. When President Obama looked into the eyes of that man who said in the debate, I had so much hope four years ago and I don't now, I thought he was going to cry. Because he knows that it's not fixed."

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Luckily her dad taught her how to shoot.

This must have been a pretty scary scene.  Woman's shot kills intruder charging towards her bedroom.  From Dallas, Texas:
It's the kind incident that makes you want to take everyone you love to the gun range for lessons: A woman -- we don't know her age -- is watching television upstairs a little before noon on Wednesday at her home, which isn't far from Camp Wisdom Road and Interstate 35. She heard the doorbell ring and looked outside, but she didn't recognize the two men. 
Suddenly, they're kicking in her door, moving swiftly up the stairs and approaching her bedroom, according to the police affidavit. Luckily, her father taught her to shoot, he toldThe Dallas Morning News. She opened fire, striking one of them. They fled down the stairs and out into the yard. Isaiah Williams, 19, collapsed. Eric Ford, 47, kept running. When police arrived, she told them one of the men was wearing an orange shirt and ragged blue shorts. She said he was about 6 feet tall and skinny. 
By 6 that evening, a call came into dispatch. Williams' family was holding Ford for police. They arrived at apartments on Fordham Road and Alsbury Street. An officer saw a man with a torn shirt and blue shorts. He said his name was Eric Ford. He said he'd been fighting with Williams' family. . . .
The Dallas Morning News story is available here.
Thanks to Peter K for the link.

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So how quickly does the stock market react to new information?

According to this news note in this case "almost instantly."
Close to midday on Thursday, Google’s financial printing partner, RR Donnelly, published the search giant’s earnings release draft hours before it was supposed to. The result: Shares of Google dropped sharply and almost instantly by nearly 75 points, with the unexpected gaffe only compounding the fact that Google missed its quarterly expectations. . . .

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10/17/2012

Some more bad economic news

Health insurance costs up 14.4% in just the last year (see Table 2).

Real average hourly earnings has fallen by 0.9% over the last two months.

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Britain: after a campaign by animal rights activists, no hunting magazines for sale to under-14 yr olds

Why does one get the feeling that animal rights groups don't feel that they can win this debate simply by argument?  They appear to hope that they can wean Brits off of interest in hunting by making it harder for young people to get interested in hunting.  It provides some insight into gun control groups working to pass hunting bans in the US.
Country sports enthusiasts are furious at a decision by Britain's biggest newsagent to ban children from buying shooting magazines after a campaign by animal rights activists. 
WH Smith says youngsters under 14 will not be sold shooting titles, even though it is legal to hold a shotgun licence below that age. 
And even adult customers attempting to buy a magazine featuring shooting now face a humiliating alert as staff receive a "till prompt" to check the buyer's age. The high street retailer based the policy on the qualifying age for a firearms certificate and says checks are already in place for a range of products, including scissors and adhesives "where an element of common sense" is required. 
However, sports groups point out that there is no minimum age for holding a shotgun licence in Britain, although children below 18 cannot buy or own a gun themselves and under-14s must be supervised by an adult. . . . 
"They are now going to face the backlash of the countryside rather than a handful of animal rights activists." 
Earlier this year, Animal Aid, Britain's largest animal rights organisation, published a report which claimed that the "lurid, pro-violence content" of country sports magazines could have a "corrosive, long-lasting effect on impressionable young minds". . . .

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Media applauds when Obama attacks Romney's wealth

From the Washington Times (Stephen Dinan, "Reporters applaud Obama's slam on Romney's wealth," October 17, 2012).
. . . "Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?" Mr. Romney said. 
"You know, I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours, so it — it doesn't take as long," Mr. Obama retorted. His reply prompted laughter in the debate hall where the two men were squaring off — but across the way in the separate room where the press was stationed, a brief round of applause broke out. 
Mr. Obama has made Mr. Romney's personal wealth a major issue in the campaign, arguing that he is out of touch with average voters who pay a higher income tax rate even though they earn far less than Mr. Romney, who founded and ran Bain Capital, an investment firm. . . .

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Fox News Fact Checks Debate "Moderator" Candy Crowley and Obama on Libya claims

Having the "moderator" picked sides in this debate is very disappointing, particularly since Ms. Crowley got her claim wrong.
In particular, Romney questioned whether Obama had called the attack an "act of terror" rather than "spontaneous" violence that grew out of a protest against an anti-Islam video. The moderator, CNN's Candy Crowley, intervened, saying Romney was half right. 
ROMNEY: I think (it's) interesting the president just said something which -- which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror. 
OBAMA: That's what I said. 
ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you're saying? 
OBAMA: Please proceed governor. 
ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror. 
OBAMA: Get the transcript. 
CROWLEY: It -- it -- it -- he did in fact, sir ... call it an act of terror. 
Crowley went on to side with Romney about the administration's confusing account, saying it took two weeks for officials to say more definitively that the attack was more than an out-of-control protest, and she said after the debate that Romney "was right in the main, I just think he picked the wrong word." 
But Obama also hadn't explicitly labeled the Bengazi strike as an "act of terror" as early as he claimed, though his comments on Sept. 12 in the Rose Garden indeed included that phrase, perhaps with that interpretation. . . .
After the debate Crowley kind of corrects her stupid statement.  But she still doesn't get it right.
“Right after that I did turn around and say, but you’re totally correct that they spent two weeks telling us this was about a tape and that that there was this riot outside the Benghazi consulate which there wasn’t,” Crowley added. 
“He was right in the main, I just think he picked the wrong word,” Crowley concluded. She went on to say that her instinct forced her to correct Romney even though his “thrust” was correct. . . .

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Where in the heck did Obama get his 5.2 million jobs number?

From the debate tonight:
Now, we've seen 30 consecutive -- 31 consecutive months of job growth; 5.2 million new jobs created. And the plans that I talked about will create even more. . . .
Where does Obama 5.2m jobs number come from? The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Establishment survey shows that -61,000 job change since the beginning of his administration. Even from lowest jobs point in Feb 2010 there has just been an increase of 4.3 million.  Yet, at the same time the working age population grew by 6.7 million.

Take the Household survey, from January 2009 to September there was an increase of 770,000 jobs (though this was negative up until the last month and the Obama administration has argued before against using this measure for jobs).  From February 2010 to September there was an increase of 4.3 million jobs.  If you go from March 2010, which is what he seems to be claiming, there were 4 million jobs.

Worse, if he want to use this measure, he is also wrong about new jobs being created for consecutive months.  If he uses it, there would have been 11 months during this time where jobs were actually lost.  That is worse than not just keeping up with the growing population.

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Obama dishonest on assault weapons ban

From Obama on gun control at Tuesday night's debate:
But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don't belong on our streets. And so what I'm trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced.  . . . 
And so what I want is a -- is a comprehensive strategy. Part of it is seeing if we can get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. But part of it is also going deeper and seeing if we can get into these communities and making sure we catch violent impulses before they occur. . . .
This is what I wrote earlier.
"AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not on the streets of our cities,” President Obama told the National Urban League on Wednesday. After the deadly attack in Colorado last Friday, the president’s concern is understandable. However, even — or perhaps especially — at such a time, distinctions need to be made. 
The police in Aurora, Colo., reported that the killer used a Smith & Wesson M&P 15. This weapon bears a cosmetic resemblance to the M-16, which has been used by the U.S. military since the Vietnam War. The call has frequently been made that there is “no reason” for such “military-style weapons” to be available to civilians. 
Yes, the M&P 15 and the AK-47 are “military-style weapons.” But the key word is “style” — they are similar to military guns in their aesthetics, not in the way they actually operate. The guns covered by the federal assault-weapons ban (which was enacted in 1994 and expired ten year later) were not the fully automatic machine guns used by the military but semi-automatic versions of those guns. 
The civilian version of the AK-47 uses essentially the same sorts of bullets as deer-hunting rifles, fires at the same rapidity (one bullet per pull of the trigger), and does the same damage. The M&P 15 is similar, though it fires a much smaller bullet — .223 inches in diameter, as opposed to the .30-inch rounds used by the AK-47. . . .
Obama knows all this.  He was deeply involved in the gun control debate before he even entered politics.

I wish that someone would have been willing to note that despite all the predictions murder and violent crime didn't rise after the assault weapons ban sunset in 2004.  The murder and violent crime rates never went above what they were in the year prior to the ban sunsetting.  For more systematic evidence on both the original adoption of the ban and its sunsetting, see here.

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So Obama now supports the "Free Enterprise System"

From tonight's debate:
OBAMA: Barry, I think a lot of this campaign, maybe over the last four years, has been devoted to this nation that I think government creates jobs, that that somehow is the answer.
That's not what I believe. I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world's ever known.
I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative and risk takers being rewarded. But I also believe that everybody should have a fair shot and everybody should do their fair share and everybody should play by the same rules, because that's how our economy's grown. That's how we built the world's greatest middle class. . . .
In December, 2011 in Osawatomie, Kansas, Obama said this:
“The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes -- especially for the wealthy -- our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty. 
Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ‘50s and ‘60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this theory. . . .
It is amazing to me that Obama would now be arguing that he doesn't believe that government creates jobs.

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10/16/2012

Should professors who donate to Obama's campaigns note their donations when the media interviews them for comments?

Of course, if reporters asked academics if they have donated to Obama's campaign, it would greatly limit the number of academics that they could talk to about the race.  It isn't really a problem for donations to Republicans because there are very, very few of those (see here, herehere, here, and here).  From The Hill newspaper:
At least a half-dozen professors who gave political donations to President Obama have been quoted in news articles opining about his administration and the 2012 race for the White House. 
The findings of The Hill’s months-long investigation come as Republicans have been crying foul, alleging a media bias for Obama and against Mitt Romney.  
The Hill cross-checked academics who have been quoted in news articles with Obama’s donor list and eliminated those who worked in prior Democratic administrations. The half-dozen professors detailed in this article do not mention their political affiliations in their bios online. A similar search for Romney donors did not yield any results. 
The scholars say they didn’t tell reporters that they had donated to Obama, but would have had they been asked. It is not common practice for journalists to inquire about such political donations, however. 
Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute says journalists should ask about political contributions: “Reporters are trying to get an independent viewpoint. Increasingly, the audience is demanding to know how [reporters] get information. The audience would like to know this information.” . . .
The Hill then goes through some examples of academics who have commented on the race to major media without it being noted that they were donors to Obama's campaign.

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Regulations turn a $3,000 car in India into nearer $10,000 car in the US

From Fox News:
The chairman of Indian automaker Tata has announced that he plans to bring the $3,000 Nano micro car to the United States within three years, according to Automotive News. . . . 
The Nano is currently powered by a 37 hp two-cylinder engine and lacks common safety features such as power steering, traction control and airbags. It was originally designed to compete in the Indian market against scooters and motorcycles. 
Along with added safety equipment, it’s likely the car will get a larger, less polluting engine for export markets. Unfortunately, that means the price will increase, as well, possibly tripling by the time it goes on sale here. 
“The Smart and the Fiat 500 have high sticker prices, and people buy them because they are small cars,” Tata told Automotive News. “But everyone knows you put a lot of money into it. We hope that the sub-$10,000 car has appeal.” . . .

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Coal Miners' Union call on Obama to stop "lying" that miners were "forced" to support Romney

From the Steubenville, OH Herald Star:
. . . The miners said Obamas campaign team is running ads filled with blatantly false statements about the miners regarding their participation in Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romneys August campaign stop at the Century Mine. These ads assert that the miners were forced to attend the event by the mines owner, Robert Murray. 
There are numerous false statements and absolute lies concerning our participation in this event, mostly started by a local shock jock radio host, the miners letter to Obama states. Why would you (Obama) lie about the 500 working miners who have signed this letter? We, the employees of the Century Mine would request you immediately stop these false ads. 
This summer, Murray Energy Corp., parent company of the Beallsville mine, cut or relocated 56 workers with the closure of the Red Bird West mine near Brilliant. Murray also cut 29 mining jobs from The Ohio Valley Coal Co.s Powhatan No. 6 Mine. All of this was done, Robert Murray said, because of Obamas war on coal. 
Murray then hosted the August Romney campaign stop in Beallsville, during which many miners appeared behind Romney as the former Massachusetts governor spoke about the need to protect coal mining jobs. . . . .

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Michelle Obama claims: "We Are in the Midst of a Huge Recovery"

Michelle Obama doesn't seem to realize that you have to create more than a certain number of jobs each month just to keep threading water.
Pablo Sato, co-host of Pablo & Freeon WPGC 95.5, a Washington, D.C.-area hip-hop radio station, asked the first lady:  “Mrs. Obama, you know what, in your words, tell us what you think the state of the union is in right now?” 
Mrs. Obama said, “I mean, we are seeing right now that we are in the midst of a huge recovery. Right?  Because of what this president has done.” 
Free: “Yes.” 
Obama: “Pulled this economy from the brink of collapse when we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. Now were gaining every -- throughout most of his presidency, we’ve been adding jobs to this economy because of what he’s been doing. The stock market has doubled. Housing prices are rising. Foreclosure rates are lowering. But in the face of that, you still have people trying to convince us that things aren’t better.” . . . .

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Black Gallaudet College Official put on leave because she signed petition to let Marylanders vote on homosexual marriage

From Fox News: 
. . . Angela McCaskill, a 23-year veteran of the university, was placed on paid leave as the university investigates her support for traditional marriage.“It recently came to my attention that Dr. McCaskill has participated in a legislative initiative that some feel is inappropriate for an individual serving as Chief Diversity Officer; however, other individuals feel differently,” wrote Gallaudet president T. Alan Hurwitz in an email sent to the campus community. 
McCaskill’s attorney said they will hold a press conference on Tuesday — stressing that his client is not “anti-gay.” 
McCaskill was one of 200,000 residents who signed a petition to put “Maryland’s Question 6” on the ballot. The measure is a referendum on same-sex “marriage.”
The Washington Blade published the names and addresses of every person who signed the petition. An anonymous faculty member spotted McCaskill’s name in the newspaper and immediately notified authorites. . . .
From the Washington Post:
. . . By mid-afternoon Friday, more than 15,000 people had signed an online petition calling on the university for the deaf and hard of hearing to reverse itself and bring back Angela McCaskill, its chief diversity officer. The school disciplined McCaskill on Wednesday, saying her signature on a petition for a referendum on same-sex marriage was “inappropriate.” . . .   
Lee P. Washington, pastor of Reid Temple AME Church, one of the largest churches in the Washington region and a hub of social and political activity, encouraged Gallaudet to take back McCaskill, who is a member of his church. In a statement, Washington said that McCaskill and her family had withstood “threats and intimidation” related to her signing the ballot petition and being placed on leave.   
McCaskill was among more than 200,000 Maryland residents who signed a petition for a referendum on same-sex marriage. The public vote was favored by opponents of a same-sex marriage law that O’Malley signed in March. . . .

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10/15/2012

Biological economics?

Some useful advice for women working for female bosses.
"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful" goes the now-infamous line in a TV ad. As with all catchphrases, there is more than a bit of truth in the expression. It now appears that women who look like the actress Kelly Le Brock, who spoke the line, should abandon hope of female solidarity when friends and colleagues are at their most fertile. 
According to scientists, attractive women with female bosses need to be extremely cautious about when they ask for a pay rise. Women at peak fertility, says a new study, are much more competitive with attractive counterparts . . .

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My former professor at UCLA Lloyd S. Shapley gets Nobel Prize? Seriously?

Shapley is known for the so-called "Shapley Value."  I had Lloyd for cooperative game theory classes at UCLA, and while I am sure that it wasn't his intention, he completely convinced me that cooperative game theory was completely worthless.  We spent the classes showing whether different division rules would satisfy a set of axioms.  We would show one rule would satisfy axioms 1,2,5, and 6 and another would satisfy some other set of axioms.  I had asked him a couple of times after class what we were going to end up doing with this large collection of division rules that we had acquired, and Lloyd told me to be patient.  Finally, I push and asked him how one picks which division rule one should use, and Lloyd told me that it simply depended upon which result one wanted to get.  It was a bizarre answer, and it hardly fit in with what I viewed as the role of a science.  There were no testable implications.

I like former professors of mine getting Nobel prizes, but the Shapley value is an incredibly lame idea to give a Nobel prize for.  If you want to give UCLA professors a Nobel prize, try Armen Alchian and Harold Demsetz, whose 1972 AER paper is the most cited paper by authors who have yet to get the prize.

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Start up jobs plummet under Obama

Tim Kane has the discussion available here.  See also this article by Jose Pagliery available here.  The raw data is available here.

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UK Met Office finds that there has been no global warming over last 16 years

This has hardly gotten the From the UK Daily Mail:
. . . The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures. 
This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years. . . . 
Some climate scientists, such as Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, last week dismissed the significance of the plateau, saying that 15 or 16 years is too short a period from which to draw conclusions. . . . 
Even Prof Jones admitted that he and his colleagues did not understand the impact of ‘natural variability’ – factors such as long-term ocean temperature cycles and changes in the output of the sun. However, he said he was still convinced that the current decade would end up significantly warmer than the previous two. . . .

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Obama administration pushes for limits on private access to guns as a way to prevent military suicides

The Obama administration position has been watered down some by Congress, but it still leaves that notion that if you can only get rid of privately owned guns by those who are at risk of suicide, you can prevent them from occurring.  The problem is that there are so many ways to commit suicide and that people will merely do it some other way.  I have a discussion on suicides in chapter 10 in More Guns, Less Crime (for a much earlier discussion on this point see here).  See this article from the New York Times:
But with suicides continuing to rise this year, senior Defense Department officials are developing a suicide prevention campaign that will encourage friends and families of potentially suicidal service members to safely store or voluntarily remove personal firearms from their homes. . . . 
The new amendment, part of the defense authorization bill for 2013 that has passed in the House of Representatives but not in the Senate, would allow mental health professionals and commanders to ask service members about their personal firearms if they have “reasonable grounds” to believe the person is at “high risk” of committing suicide or harming others. . . . 
When active duty troops who live on bases or are deployed are identified as potentially suicidal, commanders typically take away their military firearms. But commanders do not have that authority with private firearms kept off base. Instead, they would often urge potentially suicidal troops to give their guns to friends or relatives, or have them stored on base. . . .

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10/14/2012

Debra J. Saunders takes apart one of the Democrats favorite talking points to prove partisanship

Ms. Saunders has really excellent discussion on the Democrats claim that Senator Mitch McConnell's No. 1 priority was for Obama to be a one term president from day one.
On "60 Minutes" Sunday, the president observed, "When I first came into office, the head of the Senate Republicans said, 'my No. 1 priority is making sure president Obama's a one-term president.'" It's the Dems' favorite talking point, that from Day 1, Republicans wouldn't play fair. . . . day wrong, year wrong, venue wrong, context completly missing.
She explains it in detail here:
McConnell said those words from Kentucky over the phone during an interview with the National Journal's Major Garrett in October 2010. The interview was about the upcoming 2010 midterm elections that netted the GOP six Senate and 63 House seats. McConnell also said that if Obama is "willing to meet us halfway on some of the biggest issues, it's not inappropriate for us to do business with him." And: "I don't want the president to fail; I want him to change." . . .
In any case, I suppose that the quote has gotten the mileage that it has because who would think that an opposing party wants the other party to keep the presidency in the next election.

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GM US employment at 74,500 at the end of 2011, about 16,500 less than right before the bailout

Before filing for bankruptcy in July 2009, GM had 91,000 employees in the United States. After the company was reorganized the number of employees was reduced to 68,500. Well, now the number of employees at the end of 2011 (not accounting for the reduction in employment at dealerships) is back to 74,500. More of a discussion is available here.

Rasmussen has this interesting discussion of the impact that the bailouts had on the perception that people had of the GM, Ford, and Chrysler.


More Americans than ever have a favorable opinion of Ford, the one Big Three automaker that didn’t take federal bailout money.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 78% of American Adults have at least a somewhat favorable impression of Ford. . . . Thirteen percent (13%) have an unfavorable opinion of Ford. The new findings include 44% with a Very Favorable impression of the Detroit-based manufacturer and just five percent (5%) with a Very Unfavorable one. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

General Motors is a far distant second, with 44% of Americans sharing a favorable opinion of the world’s largest automaker, . . . . This includes just 13% who have a Very Favorable impression of GM. Forty-five percent (45%) have an unfavorable opinion of automaker, with 17% who view it Very Unfavorably.

Nearly as many (43%) have a favorable opinion of Chrysler, while another 43% regard the automaker unfavorably. This includes 12% with a Very Favorable opinion of Chrysler and 13% with a Very Unfavorable one.

In March 2007, before the bailouts, GM was the most popular of the car manufacturers with favorables of 69%, compared to Ford's 57% and Chrysler's 51%. However, perceptions of GM and Chrysler dropped once they began to aggressively seek taxpayer assistance to stay afloat. . . .

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Explaining Romney's tax plan

You can see the Fox News Sunday video discussion with Ed Gillespie available here. The discussion starts at 6:35 into the video.

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State Dept officials make it very hard to believe what Obama and Biden have been saying about the Benghazi attack

background conference call with Senior State Department Officials from last Tuesday is a wealth of information on the attack.
OPERATOR: The next question is from the line of Brad Klapper with AP. Please, go ahead. 
QUESTION: Hi, yes. You described several incidents you had with groups of men, armed men. What in all of these events that you’ve described led officials to believe for the first several days that this was prompted by protests against the video? 
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That is a question that you would have to ask others. That was not our conclusion. I’m not saying that we had a conclusion, but we outlined what happened. The Ambassador walked guests out around 8:30 or so, there was no one on the street at approximately 9:40, then there was the noise and then we saw on the cameras the – a large number of armed men assaulting the compound. . . .
My question is whether this will create a war between Hillary Clinton and Obama.  The White House seems to be willing to blame things on the State Department, thus on Clinton, but the State Department doesn't seem to be willing to taken this blame lying down.


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