YouTube Video of Giuliani talking about Gun Control, the New York City Suit Against Gun Makers

This pretty much speaks for itself. I would like to support Giuliani for many reasons, but I worry that there will be some issues that he will be horrible on.

YouTube video of "Rudy Giuliani announces lawsuit against gun companies"

This old post might have been too optimistic.

Labels: , ,

This will really set feminists off

Not that I thought very much of the concerns about the earlier versions of breast implants, but what objection can they come up with now?

British women may be offered a “natural” form of breast enlargement that uses stem cells and fat from a woman's own body, under plans being considered by doctors.

The technique, pioneered in Japan, results in breasts that look and feel smoother than conventional cosmetic surgery using implants. This is because the stem cells enable the fat to grow its own blood supply, thus becoming an integral part of the breast rather than a foreign lump.

Stem cells have the potential to change into any cells in the body. They are found in most tissues, especially fat. . . . .

Ironically, the procedure seems to have been originally developed in the US and will soon be forthcoming in the journal Tissue Engineering, but seems to be spreading around the world much faster than it is here. Presumably it is due to the regulatory environment in the US. The procedure using a woman's own fat cells seems to be even safer, but these regulatory delays will keep on having women use the artificial implants.

See also this.


Utah Legislature finishes Approving First Universal Voucher BIll

"The Utah State Legislature approved one of the broadest school voucher programs in the nation on Friday, allotting up to $3,000 for any public school student to put toward private school tuition."

Just like with right-to-carry laws, it will get harder and harder to scare people with horror stories about what "might" happen with vouchers.


Setting the record right, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence gets corrected

The Executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence had this thoughtful little note last week in the Washington Times. I had written a letter responding to the statement in the Washington Times that cited state Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis as claiming that "the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has reported that gun shows are the second-leading source of guns used in crimes, behind only unscrupulous licensed dealers." The point that I made was that "The ATF doesn't make the claim that its investigations are representative of the distribution of sources of illegal guns" and then I pointed to the Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of 18,000 state prison inmates in 1997 that showed 0.7 percent of those inmates who had weapons got them from gun shows and 1 percent from flea markets.

Follow the gun trails
Once again, researcher John R. Lott Jr. is revealing the ideology behind his misrepresented statistics in claiming that gun shows are not a major source of crime guns (Letters to the Editor, "Gun scruples," Sunday).

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) report in question, "Following the Gun: Enforcing Federal Laws Against Firearms Traffickers" (http://www.atf.gov/pub/fire-explo_pub/pdf/followingthegun_internet.pdf) analyzed crime-gun trace data compiled from 1,530 firearms-trafficking investigations over a 2½-year period.

The report found that "gun shows were a major trafficking channel, involving the second highest number of trafficked guns per investigation (more than 130), and associated with approximately 26,000 illegally diverted firearms."
ATF further stated that "prohibited persons, such as convicted felons and juveniles, do personally buy firearms at gun shows and gun shows are sources of firearms that are trafficked to such prohibited persons."

The National Rifle Association and its allies in Congress were so alarmed at the results of this report and others that they acted in 2004 to prohibit the ATF by law from releasing any further trace information to the American public under Freedom of Information Act. One would be hard-pressed to imagine a more anti-democratic measure outside of book burning.

The Department of Justice study mentioned by Mr. Lott (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/guns.htm) involved a survey of inmates in state prisons, 2 percent of whom said that they purchased the gun used in their crime at a flea market or gun show.

An additional 80 percent indicated they got their gun from "family, friends, a street buy or an illegal source." No effort was made to trace the crime guns involved in the study to find out where they were originally bought and how they were subsequently trafficked.

It is likely that many of these guns were originally purchased at gun shows. The only thing the study hinted at was how the last illegal transfer of a firearm had taken place, and we know from ATF that guns often change hands several times before being used in crimes.

The Virginia State Police report that background checks prevented 2,668 illegal transactions by criminals and other prohibited purchasers in Virginia in 2005 alone. If this type of activity is taking place in regulated gun sales that are overseen by the ATF, then what type of individuals are buying guns when the rules are: "No paperwork, cash and carry"? It's a question that the citizens of Virginia should be asking their legislators.

Here is my response.

Gun trails
The executive director of theCoalition to Stop Gun Violence's response to my letter was extremely misleading ("Follow the gun trails," Letters, Feb. 3).

First, simply repeating the number of transfers investigated by the Clinton administration ignores the issue that I raised: theBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms investigations were not representative of how the typical criminal got their guns.
It really just shows where the Clinton administration decided to put its investigative resources. For example, if the Clinton administration had decided to only investigate gun shows, they could have said the percentage of investigations involving gun shows was 100 percent. What would that prove?

Second, the possibility that a third party might have gotten a gun from a gun show and then transferred it to someone who used it in a crime will not be prevented by regulations on how guns are sold at gun shows.

Regulations at gun shows could theoretically stop the 0.7 percent of armed criminals who obtained their guns at gun shows, but the regulations will not stop someone who can buy a gun at a gun show from transferring a gun outside the show and the regulatory costs will significantly reduce the number of gun shows by about 14 percent.

Finally, not only is there no academic journal study by economists or criminologists showing that regulations such as the Brady Act reduce violent crime, but even island nations, such as Australia, England and Ireland, with easy borders to defend have seen increases in murder and violent crime after complete or partial gun bans were adopted.

The notion that past gun control failures can be fixed with yet more laws should at some point give pause to even someone from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Labels: , ,

Incentives matter in paternity as with everything else

It is hard to ignore all the competition by men claiming to have been the father of Anna Nicole Smith's child. Apparently men sometimes deny responsibility for being a father of a child when they are not married to the mother. Surely there are a few exceptions. But when has there ever been this number of men (four possibilities have been mentioned to date and possibly there are more to come) who claim to be the father of the same child. Possibly this is due to Anna Nicole being unusually promiscuous, but if she was only worth $500 and not possibly $500 million, would you have a married man and others coming forward claiming that they were her child's father?



DC Considering Temporarily repealing Gun Ban

Bush administration pushes for more armed pilots on international flights

They seem to be more convinced that deterrence and incapacitation works.

U.S. Seeks to Increase Armed Pilots on International Flights

Labels: ,

Murtha threatens military budget over leak that Pelosi wants a Boeing 757 for flying across country

Correcting the New York Times on Right-to-Carry

The New York Sun published a letter to the editor that I had originally sent to the New York Times regarding their attack on right-to-carry laws in Florida.

Labels: ,


Woman Employee Uses Gun to Stop Masked Armed Robber

Rudy Giuliani's unclear views on gun control?

I have read this a few times, but I am still not completely clear on what gun control regulations he would support. "Reasonable and sensible" gun control regulations could mean that any regulation is possible. The last paragraph is extremely worrisome. There are obviously many important issues in determining who one supports in the election, but this is not the state's rights view that I thought that Giuliani was going to take. That is my biggest concern, not his particular views on gun control.

HANNITY: Let me move on. And the issue of guns has come up a lot. When people talk about Mayor Giuliani, New York City had some of the toughest gun laws in the entire country. Do you support the right of people to carry handguns?

GIULIANI: I understand the Second Amendment. I support it. People have the right to bear arms. When I was mayor of New York, I took over at a very, very difficult time. We were averaging about 2,000 murders a year, 10,000...

HANNITY: You inherited those laws, the gun laws in New York?

GIULIANI: Yes, and I used them. I used them to help bring down homicide. We reduced homicide, I think, by 65-70 percent. And some of it was by taking guns out of the streets of New York City.

So if you're talking about a city like New York, a densely populated area like New York, I think it's appropriate. You might have different laws other places, and maybe a lot of this gets resolved based on different states, different communities making decisions. After all, we do have a federal system of government in which you have the ability to accomplish that.

HANNITY: So you would support the state's rights to choose on specific gun laws?

GIULIANI: Yes, I mean, a place like New York that is densely populated, or maybe a place that is experiencing a serious crime problem, like a few cities are now, kind of coming back, thank goodness not New York, but some other cities, maybe you have one solution there and in another place, more rural, more suburban, other issues, you have a different set of rules.

HANNITY: But generally speaking, do you think it's acceptable if citizens have the right to carry a handgun?

GIULIANI: It's not only -- I mean, it's part of the Constitution. People have the right to bear arms. Then the restrictions of it have to be reasonable and sensible. You can't just remove that right. You've got to regulate, consistent with the Second Amendment.

HANNITY: How do you feel about the Brady bill and assault ban?

GIULIANI: I was in favor of that as part of the crime bill. I was in favor of it because I thought that it was necessary both to get the crime bill passed and also necessary with the 2,000 murders or so that we were looking at, 1,800, 1,900, to 2,000 murders, that I could use that in a tactical way to reduce crime. And I did.

Labels: ,

Rendell breaking promises: How different February is from September and October

Last fall Ed Rendell campaigned for governor on his supposed record of cutting taxes. Surely the ads came across as promising more of the same. Rendell started backing away from those promises a week after the election. Now he is running away from the promises very quickly.

Gov. Ed Rendell proposed a hefty package of new and higher taxes yesterday that includes raising the sales tax to 7 percent statewide, increasing tobacco taxes and adding a tax on oil company profits as a way to pay for $27.3 billion in spending for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

That's an increase of $1 billion over fiscal 2006-07, and it didn't take long for Republicans to tell the Democratic governor, wait just a minute.

"There is a chart in my office that shows the word 'no' in 50 different languages, and we may have to use every variation before this budget process is over," said Sen. Gibson Armstrong, R-Lancaster, Senate Appropriations Committee chairman . . .

Note Rendell's strategy:

"The first year of a governor's four-year term is often the time when he proposes politically risky ideas, and yesterday was no exception." He did the same thing in his first term and by the end of it he was campaigning as a tax cutter.

Labels: ,

Defining Freedom in the US and Cuba: Charlize Theron

Comparing freedom in Cuba and the United States:

THERON: Well, I would argue that there's a lack of freedom in America. I think -- I think -- you know, I think we tend to...

SANCHEZ: Yes, but you don't have Democrats being arrested and thrown in jail. And you can have a meeting in your house and ...

THERON: No, but I do remember not too long ago some people getting fired from their jobs in television because they spoke up on how they felt about the war.

SANCHEZ: Do you think the lack of freedoms in Cuba are parallel to the lack of freedoms in the United States?

THERON: Well, I would -- I would compare those two, yes, definitely.

SANCHEZ: Yes? .... It sounds like -- it sounds like you don't have a very high opinion of the United States if you think that the freedoms...

THERON: Oh, my God. No, you're so wrong. I absolutely love it. Why do you think I live in the United States?

THERON: I want to make out with you right now. . . .

It is amazing that Ms. Theron doesn't understand the difference between a government banning activity (especially when the government owns everything) and a private TV station firing someone for making a statement. How does she not understand the freedom of the TV station? How does she not understand that the person is free to work for other stations or radio stations?

In any case, as a minor aside, was she referring to the CBS people who were fired for the fake Bush documents? I am not sure of the intellectual leap between firing people for sloppiness/fraud and the government not allowing someone to perform.

Labels: ,

Does this Environmental Regulation Endanger Safety?

Changing speed limits along a stretch road raises the probability of accidents. The effect might be small, but people slowing down has some risk. In the past there was some academic research showing that accident rates depend on differential speeds, and these changes in speeds would contribute to that problem. Anyway, it would be interesting to measure how big of an impact this might have.

The speed limit for truckers will drop from 70-to-55 miles per hour. The new speed limit for everyone else will be 65 miles per hour.

The reductions will affect more than 22 miles on I-81 and 12-and-a-half miles on I-26, from the Tennessee-Virginia border to the Sullivan-Washington county line.

Local officials requested the change to help bring the county into line with the Environmental Protection Agency's air quality health standard for ozone. . . .

Labels: ,

When Global Warming Meets Academic Freedom

Yet, another reason that government should stay out of science debates. It can't keep politics out of the discussion.

Taylor has held the title of "state climatologist" since 1991 when the legislature created a state climate office at OSU The university created the job title, not the state.

His opinions conflict not only with many other scientists, but with the state of Oregon's policies.

So the governor wants to take that title from Taylor and make it a position that he would appoint.

In an exclusive interview with KGW-TV, Governor Ted Kulongoski confirmed he wants to take that title from Taylor. The governor said Taylor's contradictions interfere with the state's stated goals to reduce greenhouse gases, the accepted cause of global warming in the eyes of a vast majority of scientists. . . .

I guess that I do object to the claim that Taylor's views are outside the mainstream of climatologists. Among them I think that he is pretty mainstream.

Thanks to Tom C. for sending this to me.

Labels: , ,


Rudy Giuliani on the Courts, Abortion and Judicial Nominations

Well, Giuliani is saying the right things to get conservative Republicans behind him, but the amazing thing is that he is doing it in a way that is completely consistent with his past statements and is likely to make him acceptable to many moderates and even some liberals.

"I don't think you have a litmus test. But I do think you have sort of a general philosophical approach that you want from a justice, and I think a strict constructionist would be probably the way I'd describe it."

"Where I stand on abortion is, I oppose it. I don't like it. I hate it. I think abortion is something that, as a personal matter, I would advise somebody against. However, I believe in a woman's right to choose. I think you have to ultimately not put a woman in jail for that, and I think ultimately you have to leave that to a disagreement of conscience and you have to respect the choice that somebody makes. So what I do say to conservatives, because then, you know, you want to look at, well, OK, what can we look to that is similar to the way we think? I think the appointment of judges that I would make would be very similar to, if not exactly the same as, the last two judges that were appointed."

Labels: ,

Steve Jobs on Eliminating Digital Rights Management

The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

Steve Jobs has a very provacative posting at Apple.com today asking for the elimination of digital rights management (DRM) that is used "to protect its music against theft." The most interesting part of the discussion to me was way Apple doesn't license its FairPlay DRM to others because it would be difficult for Apple to control information about the program and these leaks could be used to disable the protection. He suggests that is part of the reason that Microsoft has moved to the Apple model of having one company control both the hardware and software.

The other issue is ending DRM. Obviously Jobs would support this only if he believes that he has the best online music store and best hardware. Many economists have argued that Apple had locked customers into using iTunes once they had bought an iPod and that then the fact that they bought songs on iTunes would lock them into buying iPods in the future. The numbers that Jobs provides makes it clear that the investment the people make in songs bought by iTunes is so small that it is hard to think that there is much of a lock-in effect. He claims that the average iPod owner only has 3% of their songs from iTunes. The implication that he draws that this DRM hasn't stopped piracy. That last part seems like a big jump in logic to me, at least with the evidence that he has provided. These songs could be from people's legitimate CD collections. I also wonder about how much of this other space is due to podcasts, movies, audio books. It is because I have problems with this last step that I also have problems with his conclusion that the big four record companies would be better off junking DRM. Doing so could greatly increase piracy, which is what the record companies fear. I appears Jobs believes that he would benefit, but all that goes to show is that people aren't being locked into the iPod world. iPod and iTunes are both doing well because they are the best out there, not because people are locked into them.

There is one other possible interpretation to all this. It is possible that Jobs is reacting to recent pressure from multiple European countries to share its DRM. Apple might believe that it is easier for the music companies to defend this and at the same time Apple can make it look like it is in agreement with the Europeans. This interpretation depends on the reasonable assumption that the music companies are willing to fight hard to defend their property rights.

UPDATE: Well, others have picked up on this last point. "But several industry executives said they viewed Mr. Jobs’s comments as an effort to deflect blame from Apple and onto the record companies for the incompatibility of various digital music devices and services."

Labels: ,

Governor Ed Rendell and Gun Control

Rudy Guliani on Guns and Other Issues

I was talking to someone whom I shall not name who pointed out to me that Guliani will essentially take a state's rights position. That he supported gun control when he was mayor, but that as president he will leave it to the local governments to decide the rules. In some important sense, this is a very conservative position, and if people are convinced that he will follow this position then from abortion to gun control, conservatives would be very happy with him. Obviously, there will be many issues that this won' work for, such as enforcing many of the laws that are already on the books (take the behavior of the BATFE as just one example or gun tracing).

Update: As someone wrote me this afternoon: "An openly "pro-choice" candidate, for example, who comes out and says that Roe v. Wade is a bogus Supreme Court decision because it violates the 10th Amendment could get the support of many "pro-life" voters. And, even though the 2nd Amendment applies to local, state, and federal governments, an openly anti-gun candidate who says that he'll oppose federal gun-control legislation purely on 10th-Amendment grounds might actually get my vote if I believed that he meant it (which would require quite a bit of persuasion)."

See my previous discussion here.

Labels: ,

Some Critical Commentary on Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth"

Some critical commentary on Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" can be seen here and here. All of these are by Marlo Lewis.

Labels: ,

Gun Control and Nazi Germany

Steve Halbrook has a very interesting law review article that demolishes an earlier piece by Bernard Harcourt at the University of Chicago Law School. Bernard's piece claimed that it is just a myth that Nazi Germany had restrictive gun control laws and he blames the NRA for promoting this myth. Why Bernard's piece should have been a law review article is a bit of mystery to me, but Halbrook takes Bernard's historical claims apart.


former climatology professor states Global Warming is "the greatest deception in the history of science"


Weird Stories

"Ryan O'Neal: I Fired Gun in Self-Defense"

London's Property Crime Rate 39% Higher than New York's

Gallup claims that while 32 percent of Londoners have been victims of property crimes, New York's victimization rate is 23 percent. Of minor interest, this probably means that the violent crime rate is greater in London than New York by a larger gap than exists between property crime in the two cities.

Thanks to John WIlliamson


State Legislators and University of Utah Negotiate Exceptions to Where Guns can be on University Property

Finally, someone asks the right question: show us an "actual problem" with people legally carrying a concealed handgun.

Those exceptions would have allowed institutions to restrict the carrying of concealed weapons in athletics venues; places where large numbers of students gather, such as student unions; classrooms and other academic areas; faculty offices; and dormitories. Legislative negotiators rejected the first three exceptions, Mr. Bell said, but agreed to the other two provisions, provided that faculty members be given the option to permit visitors to bring concealed firearms into their offices. . . . .

Clark Aposhian, chairman of Utah's Department of Public Safety Concealed Carry Review Board, told The Salt Lake Tribune that "until any entity including universities can show me an actual problem and then show me how banning firearms would solve that problem, I'm not inclined to support any type of ban." . . . .

Paid subscription required for this link at the “Chronicle of Higher Education." Thanks very much to Rich for sending this to me.

Labels: ,

Pedophiles took over English Foster Care System


Cramer's new book: Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie

I have know Clayton for many years, and this should be a really solid, excellent book. It was very difficult for him to convince publishers that there was a market for this type of book, and I hope that the market makes everyone who turned the book down regret that they did so. I just talked with him and one of his results is that 2/3rds of older white males owned guns. That seems like a pretty sizeable percentage of the population, especially given that many of these individuals were too old to use them.

This biased synopsis of book on Amazon really is too much:
Cramer, an adjunct lecturer in history at Boise State University and George Fox University, took on Michael Bellesiles even before his book Arming America was discredited, and now goes further to prove wrong Bellesiles's claim that guns were uncommon in early America. Cramer finds that guns "were the norm" in that period, people relied on guns to hunt, and gun ownership was key to the success of colonial militias. His most intriguing argument is that, as they became "tied to defending political rights," guns also became a symbol of citizenship. Cramer draws on many primary sources, from newspaper accounts to probate records, and compiles impressive data supporting his case. Still, he misses many opportunities for analysis and interpretation. For example, he finds that it was "not terribly unusual" for free women to own guns, but offers no nuanced discussion of what said gun ownership tells us about gender roles. His attack on academia—which, in Cramer's view, has been blinded by ideology and excludes political conservatives—distracts from his central theme and will only alienate pro–gun-control readers, leaving him with an equally narrow, if opposite, readership.

Obviously I am not this reviewer's targeted audience because I find it interesting that women regularly owned guns. As to Clayton's discussion of academia, it seems relevant given that it is part of the story for why he wrote the book.


Utah House Passes Universal Voucher Bill

It is too bad that this passed only after Milton Friedman had died, but it is still quite a testiment to the influence that he had on the nation's public debate. This will have a bigger impact on schooling in big cities. The shame is that competition is still not occurring in the biggest cities in the US with horrible public school systems.

School voucher opponents, dejected after the House voted 38-37 Friday in favor of a school voucher bill, predicted supporters will one day regret their votes.
They fully expect HB148 to sail through the Senate and win Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s signature, but rather than calling for a constitutional challenge or a repeal effort, they spoke only of "bad policy" and escalating costs.
"I'm terribly disappointed. I think people sold out from fear of special interest groups," said Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, a retired teacher.
If the bill is signed and becomes law, the heavy lifting would fall to the Utah Office of Education, which would have to get the program up and running by summer so parents can use their vouchers by fall.
"It's a huge assignment and [the bill is] very prescriptive," said Carol Lear, attorney for the Utah Office of Education.
Voucher supporters embraced each other in the halls after the vote.
"We've been chewing on this issue for seven years," said Rep. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, who sponsored this year's bill. "We learned from the dialogue, and we have passed something that will be beneficial to some families and it will be beneficial to the system overall."
HB148 would let parents spend public money on private school tuition. Families whose children already attend private schools would be exempt unless they are low-income, but every family with children in public schools would be eligible for vouchers ranging from $500 to $3,000. Public schools would lose some but not all state money for every voucher student who leaves. . . . .

Labels: , ,

Tierney mentioning benefits from global warming

John Tierney makes a point that I have often thought about. Why is it that environmentalists oppose global warming (OK, for the sake of argument let's assume that man has some significant impact)? There would clearly be more animal life. There would be more plants that would be able to grown and that would provide food for more animals. As the density of animal life increases, won't there also be more new species on net than there would otherwise be? I have also wondered whether there would actually be more usable land area. True, there would be some flooding, but think of all the areas in Siberia and Canada that would be opened up for people to use. Of course, in the past, others have also pointed to the benefits for mankind, better health, etc.. The cost-benefit studies that I have seen appear to do a pretty poor job on taking these different factors into account.

But as fondly as I recall the Great White North, I also remember how empty it was, particularly the vast Canadian tundra we flew over on the way to the scenic glaciers on Ellesmere Island. It’s called the Barrens: 500,000 square miles of flat treeless wasteland. It’s terra incognita to practically everyone except for for mineral prospectors, like the diamond prospectors described by Kevin Krajick in his 2001 book, “Barren Lands.” As he writes, “The Barrens have never really been lived upon, only traveled through; the wolverine, an eater of the dead, is almost its only year-round resident.”

Lots more life could survive in the Arctic if, as the I.P.C.C. projects, it warms up and gets more rain. There could be trees much farther north, a richer variety of flora and fauna. There might be fewer polar bears, but the bears have survived warm periods in the past, like the era some 9000 years ago when trees grew in northern Siberia. . . . .

Labels: ,