Trouble in Virginia AG Election?

Stephen Moore writes at OpinionJournal's Political Diary that:

Tuesday's elections aren't over in Virginia -- not by a long shot. On Tuesday night Republican candidate for attorney general Bob McDonnell appeared to have won the race against Democrat Creigh Deeds by 1,600 votes out of 1.9 million cast. But Mr. Deeds isn't conceding and Republicans in the state fear that Virginia may be headed for a long, drawn-out process reminiscent of Palm Beach, Florida in 2000 or last November's multiple recount fiasco in Washington State.

Adding to the GOP jitters is that Mr. McDonnell's margin of victory keeps shrinking by the hour, with the latest tally showing Mr. McDonnell now up by less than 1,100 votes. With each new report, the Democrat Mr. Deeds continues to pick up votes in one of the largest and most Democratic counties in the state, Fairfax, outside of Washington, D.C. Mr. Deeds won Fairfax by nearly 15 percentage points and the president of the Board of Elections in Fairfax happens to be Larry Byrne, the husband of Leslie Byrne, the liberal Democrat who ran unsuccessfully as Lt. Governor candidate for the Democrats. Not only has Mr. Byrnes refused to recuse himself from the recount process, but he has also shut out Republicans from overseeing the process. A top aide to Mr. McDonnell tells us: "An ostensibly public process of handling the ballots has become non-public. Our people can't oversee what the board is doing."

Another reason for Republicans to be nervous is that Mr. Deeds not only refuses to concede defeat but has even named a transition team, which could be the first time in Virginia history that a losing candidate has appointed people to make plans for assuming office anyway. Mr. Deeds is now alleging a voting machine malfunction in the Roanoke area. "When every vote is counted, I will be the next Attorney General in Virginia," he says. Mr. McDonnell's forces are worried that every vote will be counted and recounted -- and then some -- until Democrats reach the desired result.

More on grandmother (Susan Buxton) who probably saved her life with a gun

This is a really well done piece from the Dallas Morning News, and the entire piece is worth reading:

If you favor more stringent gun laws, they're the people who come to mind: drug-addled stickup artists, dimwits who keep loaded weapons with kids in the house, bad-tempered drunks and psycho stalkers and cop-killers with nothing to lose.

But there are less-celebrated people who could make a pretty good case in favor of responsible gun ownership. Susan Gaylord Buxton, the Arlington woman who shot and wounded a housebreaker early Wednesday, might give even the most ardent gun-control activist a moment's pause.

Talk-show hosts and radio jocks have had a lot of fun with the story of the 66-year-old grandma who was packin' a .38 pistol when she found a bald-headed, muscle-bound burglar crouching in her front-hall coat closet.

She warned him to get down and lie still – you can hear it on the 911 tape – but when he ignored her and tried to grab the gun, she shot him in the thigh. . . .

Karl Rove at the Federalist Society

Karl Rove gave a talk tonight at the Federalist Society annual dinner. My reaction was somewhat different than this report by Reuters. The first thing that struck me was Roves claim at the beginning of his talk that the Bush administration had ended judicial activism. To say the least, I was a little surprised at this claim and thought that I had misheard it, but it was clear that this activism had already ended. Many cases immediately came to mind such as Kelo or the juvenile death penalty cases from this past year. Rove also gave a ringing defense of Harriet Miers and to my surprise also there were a number of people (though a clear minority) who stood up and applauded her.


Possibly this explains why Californians voted the way they did on Tuesday

Gun Probably Saved Grandmother's life (Susan Gaylord Buxton)

Arlington, Texas
A 66-year-old grandmother shot an intruder in her north Arlington home early Wednesday as he grabbed for her gun, she told police.
Susan Gaylord Buxton said the training she received to earn her concealed-handgun permit saved her life.
"If I didn't have a gun to protect myself, I probably wouldn't be here," she said.
The man, identified as Christopher Lessner, 22, was under police guard Wednesday at Harris Methodist Fort Worth, where he was being treated for a leg wound, said Christy Gilfour, Arlington police spokeswoman.
Buxton said she used a .38-caliber revolver. Gilfour confirmed that the woman has a gun permit.
Lessner was shot sometime after 12:30 a.m. He had initially fled from officers at about 11:15 p.m. Tuesday during a traffic stop on Interstate 30 at Fielder Road, Gilfour said.
Buxton told officers that she was letting her dog out about 12:30 a.m. when she noticed a muddy footprint on her back porch.
Buxton told police that she usually carried her gun because she was afraid of coyotes attacking her dogs.
She said her 28-year-old granddaughter, who was in the house, heard glass breaking. Buxton also noticed that her cats were out of their room and that items in another room had been moved, police said.
When she yanked open the door of her front closet and pulled a coat away, she saw the face of a man, who motioned for her to be quiet, the woman said.
He then "jumped out of there like a jack-in-a-box,'' she said.
She told him to get on the floor or she'd shoot. He fumbled with the front door with one hand and reached for the gun with the other, Buxton said.
She then fired her revolver, which was loaded with hollow-point bullets, she said.
Buxton said she could have killed the man because her concealed-carry instructors taught her to aim for the torso. But she said she aimed for his leg. . . .

Thanks very much to Russell Wright and Cam Reinhart for sending this story to me.

Who are the bad guys in Iraq?

Dan Gifford's son, who just had a tour of duty in Iraq, had a lot of interesting things to say about his time there. Here is one of the facts that he mentioned:

"Most of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi Al Qaeda group. They operate mostly in Anbar province (Fallujah and Ramadi). These are mostly "foreigners", non-Iraqi Sunni Arab Jihadists from all over the Muslim world (and Europe). Most enter Iraq through Syria (with, of course, the knowledge and complicity of the Syrian govt.) , and then travel down the "rat line" which is the trail of towns along the Euphrates River that we've been hitting hard for the last few months. Some are virtually untrained young Jihadists that often end up as suicide bombers or in "sacrifice squads". Most, however, are hard core terrorists from all the usual suspects (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas etc.) These are the guys running around murdering civilians en masse and cutting heads off. The Chechens (many of whom are Caucasian), are supposedly the most ruthless and the best fighters. (they have been fighting the Russians for years). In the Baghdad area and south, most of the insurgents are Iranian inspired (and led) Iraqi Shiites. The Iranian Shiia have been very adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local govt.'s, the police forces and the Army. The have had a massive spy and agitator network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80's. Most of the Saddam loyalists were killed, captured or gave up long ago."


Some comments on recent op-eds

New Op-ed up on San Francisco Gun Ban

I have a new op-ed up at National Review Online: Now We’re Getting Somewhere: A silver lining in a gun ban.


"How to demonize a judge in twelve steps"

New op-ed on Brazil Gun Vote

Fern Richardson and I have a new piece at National Review Online on the recent overwhelming vote in Brazil not to ban guns.

Craig Newmark has an interesting discussion about the Florida 2000 election

Will DC gun laws change?

Washington Post enters the fray again today:

[Congressman] Souder and his friends at the NRA prefer that people keep unlocked and loaded shotguns or rifles in their homes, so they added an amendment to the House version of the D.C. appropriations bill that prevents the city from enforcing its safe-storage requirements. The Senate didn't include such a reckless provision in its version of the bill. This week, a conference committee will meet to reconcile the bills' differences. If the Senate's conferees hold firm, the city will be spared the nightmare that is sure to come from loaded and unlocked guns falling into the hands of children.

That scary picture is borne out in a study published by the journal Pediatrics in September: "Approximately 90% of fatal firearm incidents involving children occur within the home, and according to a study of children and youth aged 0 to 14 years . . . 40% of firearm incidents involve a firearm stored in the room in which the shooting occurs."

Follow up: The CDC reports that for 2002 there were 26 accidental gun deaths for children under 10 and 60 for children under 15 in the US. My own work using the CDC numbers indicates that the vast majority of the children who died from accidental shots from 1995 to 2001 where killed by adult male criminals, who gun locks would not stop from firing their own guns.

Oil Executives ordered to appear before congress

I could only hope for one of these executives to give these politicians an economics lesson:

Top executives of three major oil companies will be asked by senators next week why some of their industry's estimated $96 billion in record profits this year shouldn't be used to help people having trouble paying their energy bills.

One wonders if these politicians know the damage that they do for future disasters because the very threat of these regulations and interventions reduce the expected profit companies will earn from fixing problems as they arise. The possibility of higher prices when disasters strike also gives oil companies an incentive to put aside more gas to cover those emergencies. Storing gas is costly, and if you want them to bear those costs, you had better compensate them. The irony is that letting the companies charge higher prices actually reduces customers total costs when you include such things as having to wait in long lines because there will be more gas available when the disaster strikes. The mere threat of price controls eliminates the possible profits oil companies can make in solving this problem and thus eliminates their incentive to store gasoline.

If you are interested, see this discussion.



The Useless Vote Tomorrow in SF on banning guns

"Gun classes offer options to domestic abuse victims"

Until Christmas Eve 1996, she had never contemplated carrying a gun.

Then her husband beat her.

The woman, of Salt Lake City, promptly got a divorce and a protective order - and a 9mm Glock pistol.

"I was always terrified of guns. But my fear of my ex-husband became far greater than my fear of guns. I saw what he was capable of," said the woman.

The Tribune is not identifying the woman because her ex-husband has not been charged with any crime.
She said protective orders alone are not enough to protect her and others like her. A piece of paper won't save them from an abuser hurtling toward them with a fist or a weapon.

So they're taking up arms. And Clark Aposhian, manager of Totally Awesome Guns and Range in Kearns, is helping them do it.

The certified firearms instructor offers a five-hour course on most Saturdays. It is required to receive a Utah concealed weapons permit. The class is $75 a person, but for women or men with a valid protective order, it's free. . . .


A big wind up but not much of a delivery: Response to Op-ed on Alito Nomination

Todd Zywicki had a nice post on my recent op-ed discussing whether Alito is an extremist

Todd goes on to note that Franks Cross criticizes my piece:
Professor Frank Cross challenges Lott's interpretation of Choi and Gulati in the Comments:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this review by John Lott is quite misleading. Under Choi & Gulati's citation-based measure of judicial quality, Alito comes out very poorly, well down in the bottom half of all circuit court judges. That was their primary measure, and Lott doesn't mention it. Now, I've got a forthcoming paper that argues that this measure is an unreliable one and Alito suffers not for lack of quality but because it is a minimalist. But it's still misleading to cite a couple of categories where he does well but ignore their leading category, where he did quite poorly.

And independence in their study doesn't mean judicial independence, or anything like it. His high score here probably just means that 3rd Circuit Republicans are pretty liberal, as has been noted on this blog, so he is more likely to disagree with them and write a conservative opinion.

Personally though, after much back and forth between myself and Mr. Cross, Cross's discussion ends with more of a wimper than a bang:

. . . Perhaps I should give some context. I have the Choi &Gulati data and have analyzed it in various ways, as well as reading all the critics that I have found. I am famiiar the the findings and their validity. Because this is an area in which I research, I have fielded numerous inquiries about the Alito nomination. I have scrupulously avoided discussing the Choi &Gulati results because (a) I felt I could not do so honestly without addressing Alito's low quality rating in the process and (b) I think that rating is unfair to Alito for other reasons I have been researching. But I thought the full explanation was beyond what the press could reasonably offer in an article.

In short, I declined to make a post such as yours, because I believed it would be misleading to do so. This all happened before your post. Having made that conclusion for myself, I applied it to your post. Readers may draw their own conclusions.

My response is as follows:

. . . I haven't read your research, though I would be interested in doing so if you could email a copy (I would appreciate it). What I conclude from your last comments is that you were not taking issue with me inaccurately reporting what Choi and Gulati wrote, but your research has found that there were significant problems with their research and that without noting those problems it is wrong to cite the Choi and Gulati findings. Since I don't know your critique, I can't really comment on the last point other than to say I am very happy to look at your work.

I will look forward to reading his research when he sends it to me. I couldn't find it on SSRN. Possibly he has some strong critiques of Choi and Gulati, but despite the long discussion presented he never explicitly mentions what his objection is to Choi and Gulati's quality measures based upon citations and invocations (the later is when the name of a judge is mentioned in citing his opinion). I will reserve judgment until I have it to read, which hopefully will be very soon.

Are New York City Crime Numbers Being Falsely Reported?

It's been a year now since an extraordinary event occurred in local police annals: The heads of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the Sergeants Benevolent Association charged publicly that the police department had cooked the books on crime statistics. Maybe you missed the news about the outcry that followed—the hasty audits, the City Council investigations, the criminal probes, the corruption commission hearings. But if you've missed all that, it's not your fault: There hasn't been any outcry. No comptroller audits. No City Council investigation. Nothing to date from the city's Commission to Combat Police Corruption. . . .

The basic complaint is that police commanders have forced cops to turn crimes that once would have been reported as felony assaults and grand larcenies into lesser offenses. The goal, accordingly, is to drive down the number of offenses included in a closely watched "index" of seven major crimes. . . .

"So how do you fake a crime decrease? It's pretty simple. Don't file reports, misclassify crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, undervalue the property lost to crime so it's not a felony, and report a series of crimes as a single event. A particularly insidious way to fudge the numbers is to make it difficult or impossible for people to report crimes—in other words, make the victims feel like criminals so they walk away just to spare themselves further pain and suffering." . . .

Thanks very much to Jason Morin for sending this to me.

Wisconsin holds hearings on Right-to-carry law

Only four states ban people being able to carry concealed weapons. One vote made the difference last time where a previous sponsor changed his position under pressure from the governor, and a similarly close vote will likely take place this time.

Rep. Scott Gunderson, R-Waterford, the bill's other main author, choked up as he told the committees someone attacked him with a crowbar as he tried to open his store one day.

"Maybe he wouldn't have if he thought I was carrying a concealed weapon," Gunderson said. Zien, sitting next to him, patted him on the back.

Gunderson said 46 other states currently allow residents to carry concealed weapons. He said Wisconsin's bill is needed to comply with a 2003 state Supreme Court ruling, which found Wisconsin's 133-year-old ban on hidden weapons conflicts with a 1998 amendment to the state constitution guaranteeing the right to bear arms.

83 year old man defends himself, had been carrying a gun since a previous attack

Youngstown, Ohio, Tuesday, November 1
Walter Swita used a German Luger 9 mm pistol he brought home from World War II to shoot an intruder he suspects robbed him a few weeks ago.

The intruder, Benjamin Brooks, 44, of East Philadelphia Avenue, died Sunday at St. Elizabeth Health Center. Swita shot him in the head and chest around 10:30 p.m. Friday.

Brooks, whose record included robbery and breaking and entering, lived around the corner from Swita.. . .

The elderly man's 80-year-old two-story house is in the middle of a commercial district that features bars, eateries and other businesses. As a safety precaution, he's considering cutting back or removing a large bush that obscures his front porch.
"I think he's the one who attacked me about six weeks ago in the back yard," Swita said of Brooks. "He smashed me hard in the face and when I fell down he looked through my wallet and took $60."

Swita said he started carrying his German Luger after the attack, not sure whether the vintage pistol would even fire. He said he served in General George Patton's 3rd Army but didn't shoot at anyone. He repaired tanks and Jeeps. After the first robbery, Swita, who lives alone, began parking across the street when he returned home, not in his rear yard driveway. He'd hide the pistol against his leg until he was safe inside.