National Radio Shows for Monday

I will be on G. Gordon Liddy's show from 10 to 11 AM EDT and on Lars Larson's show at 6:15 PM EDT. There are multiple other local shows, but those are the two national ones so far. The subject is the Supreme Court hearing the DC gun ban case on Tuesday.


How did I miss this in the polls?: Obama's negatives at 49 percent

I don't know about anyone else, but at least I am surprised how high Obama's negatives have been over the last month (with multiple times reaching 48 percent unfavorable). Right now McCain's numbers are 55% favorable - 41% unfavorable, Clinton's 47% favorable - 51% unfavorable, and Obama's 50% favorable - 49% unfavorable. All this is before the problems that Obama has had with his pastor, though I admit that the MSM has played this so few people will be concerned by those revelations. Still, it should have some effect and is presumably responsible for the increase from 46 to 49 percent (remember this is a three day tracking poll so probably only one day's results have been really impacted by all this). Yet, right now McCain's unfavorable numbers are 8 percentage points below Obama's and 10 percentage points below Clinton's. If these numbers are accurate, McCain is positioned pretty well for the race.


Oklahoma State House Passes Bill Letting Some Carry Concealed Handguns on College Campuses

While this legislation is considerably narrower than Utah and thus providing far less protection, my prediction is that the fears put forward by Rep. McCarter here will prove to be unjustified.

Okla. House passes campus gun bill

By TIM TALLEY, Associated Press
Last updated: 11:32 p.m., Thursday, March 13, 2008
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The state House agreed Thursday to allow people with specialized firearms training, such as military personnel, to carry concealed weapons on the state's college campuses, despite opponents who said it made no sense following shootings at schools across the country.

The measure was approved 65-36, and now heads to the state Senate for a vote.

Introduced by Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, the law would authorize active-duty military and National Guard and reserve personnel, honorably discharged veterans and others with firearms training certified by the Council on Law Enforcement Education who hold a state concealed weapons license to carry guns on college and university campuses.

The legislation is more narrow than Murphey's original proposal, which would have allowed anyone at least 21 years old with concealed handgun carrying rights to carry weapons on campus. That version was similar to a Utah law.

"This has to be the craziest thing I have ever seen," said Rep. Ray McCarter, D-Marlow, one of several lawmakers who said the measure is opposed by college administrators. . . .

To get an idea about how few people will meet this requirement, the Council on Law Enforcement Education's requirements can be seen here.

Provide for basic peace officer certification, by establishing and conducting 326 hour basic academies for all full-time peace officers employed by city, county, or state entities of government, with the exception of the four approved academy city/agencies.

In other words, to carry a concealed handgun on campus you will have to either be honorably discharged from the military or currently a member or a police officer. That is surely better than nothing, but it is still very small. Why not eliminate fees for these individuals to get a permit?

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My title: "Northern Illinois University Attack Shows that Smoking Kills."

Well, this certainly clears things up:

Authorities: Northern Illinois University Gunman Had Drugs in His System
Saturday, March 15, 2008

The gunman who opened fire on a Northern Illinois University classroom on Valentine's Day had traces of nicotine, cold medicine and an anti-anxiety drug in his system, authorities say.

The article later mentions that one should ignore this article:

"This combination of drugs in his system could have no effect whatsoever on his mental status," Angelos Halaris told the Sun-Times, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Loyola University Medical Center. . . .

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Obama interviewed on Fox News about Pastor

Obama wanders around a little and it would have been nice to have had about a five minute longer interview, but the interview that can be seen here was still useful. The huge problem for Obama is if Juan Williams is correct that Obama "knew" about these statement from Rev. Wright. You can see Juan Williams' discussion with Bill O'Reilly here and another discussion here. Juan WIlliams claims that the pastor is well known for these controversial positions. Williams said that Obama's claim that he didn't know about these statements by the pastor is unbelievable. Obama has said that he doesn't think that his church is particularly controversial. The pastor married Obama, baptized the Obama children, and did a public blessing of the Obama home.

Bill O'Reilly also has a discussion on this here. ABC News has some of the pastor's statements here.
MSNBC doesn't play what I thought were the worst statements, but you can see the Morning Joe's discussion here, Dan Abrams' discussion is here and Keith Obermann's discussion is here. For example, none of these discussions mention the supposed government plan to creating AIDS to spread it to blacks or more of his discussion about the government giving drugs to blacks to destroy them. Rev. Wright's discussion of Italians (he points out are White Europeans) persecuting Jesus (who he says was a black) and then drawing the connection between whites and blacks in the US and referring to the US of KKKA. He has said extremely hurtful things about conservative blacks. ABC News looked at a dozen sermons that were for sale on the church's website. According to ABC News, these extreme claims were brought up continuously. It would appear that these clips would have been representative. You can see some more clips and Media Matters' response here.

On Saturday Obama tried to explain Wright's sermons this way:

“It reminds me that we’ve got a tragic history when it comes to race in this country … But what I continue to believe in is this country wants to move beyond these kinds of divisions.”

OK, everyone agrees that there were horrible problems, but hopefully that doesn't mean that people are so paranoid that they think that the government today invented AIDS or supply dangerous drugs to kill people. But how does this explain any conspiracy theories behind 911? My guess is that relatively few people killed in the attack were black.

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Polling Canadians on their social views

These and other polling results can be found here:

Buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur

Acceptable 51%

Wrong 36%

The death penalty

Acceptable 47%

Wrong 41%

I am not completely sure that I understand this difference:

Doctor-assisted suicide

Acceptable 62%

Wrong 25%


Acceptable 25%

Wrong 62%

If Canadians have a live and let live attitude on sex, how can one explain the difference in these two questions?

Sexual relations between two people of the same sex

Acceptable 59%

Wrong 33%

Polygamy, when one husband has more than one wife at the same time

Acceptable 10%

Wrong 84%

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Wyoming is the 20th State to Adopt "Castle Doctrine"

A discussion on the law can be seen here:

Gov signs 'castle doctrine' bill
Star-Tribune capital bureau
Friday, March 14, 2008 7:25 AM MDT

CHEYENNE -- Declaring that Wyoming residents have a right to defend their homes, Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed a bill Thursday that spells out in statute that citizens may use deadly force on intruders.

Freudenthal said he supported a last-minute change to House Bill 137 that narrowed the scope of the bill to only cover intrusions inside the home.

"I was troubled as it came out of the House because it went outside the castle," said Freudenthal, referring to the bill's common title, the "castle doctrine," which is said to have originated from a concept in English common law that a man's home is his castle.

"Inadvertently, I think some of the language went a little broad and I think the Senate brought it back into what is really much more consistent with our traditional jury instructions," Freudenthal said during a ceremony at the capitol where he signed a number of bills.

Wyoming joins more than 20 other states in enacting the "castle doctrine," which has been favored by the National Rifle Association.

Wyoming's version of the bill provides immunity from civil lawsuits to anyone who uses force in defense of his or her "person, property or abode or to prevent injury to another."

The bill does not cover deadly force in cases where"a peace officer is trying to enter a home or when the guardian of a child is trying to lawfully remove the child from a home.

Critics, including some Wyoming prosecutors, insist that case law already provides the right to self-defense and the law could erode existing protections. The bill is effective on July 1.


Wacky Zero Tolerance Policy in Schools

Where do these public school officials come from?

Suspended For Buying Candy In School
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) ― The New Haven schools superintendent said Wednesday that he will review a principal's decision to suspend an eighth-grade student for buying candy in school.

Michael Sheridan was stripped of his title as class vice president, barred from attending an honors student dinner and suspended for a day after buying a bag of Skittles from a classmate.

The New Haven school system banned candy sales in 2003 as part of a districtwide school wellness policy, said school spokeswoman Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo.

Shelli Sheridan, Michael's mother, told the New Haven Register that he is a top student with no previous disciplinary problems.

"It's too much. It's too unfair," she said. "He's never even had a detention."

Superintendent Reginald Mayo said Wednesday that Sheridan Middle School principal Eleanor Turner just wanted to keep students safe. . . .

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New Tennessee Bill Proposes that Professors can carry Concealed Handguns on Campus

The discussion of the new bill can be seen here:

College Professor Shane Griffith has shot guns for more 25 years. He's owned a gun permit for 3. And if he was allowed to carry his firearm into a classroom, he says he probably would.

"It would definitely save lives both in Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois. I think if someone had been there that could have stopped it soon lives could have been saved," says Griffith.

Two Tennessee lawmakers agree and have introduced a new bill that would allow College faculty to carry guns. Cleveland State Senator Dewayne Bunch is sponsoring the proposal, which would allow any professor with a state issued gun permit to carry the weapon on campus. . . .

The proposed bill would affect all state colleges and universities, including the University of Tennessee, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and and Cleveland State Community College. . . .

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What Spitzer got out of his demands on firms

This is the first that I heard that Spitzer would extort firms into giving Spitzer's friends important jobs.

Companies almost always agreed to Mr. Spitzer's demands that they pay stiff fines and change the way they operated -- all without any trials or judicial determinations that they had done anything wrong. "It became a kind of blackmail," Mr. Siegel says, "in which he said to companies, if you don't put my friends in high positions in your company I'll drag you through the mud." . . .


Nelson Lund on the DC Gun Ban Case

Nelson is probably the nation's top academic scholar on the Second Amendment. Here is something that he wrote up for the Heritage Foundation before the DC v. Heller case is heard by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

A Narrow Decision? If the Supreme Court accepts D.C.’s principal contention—that civilians have no constitutional right to possess firearms except in connection with militia service—the Second Amendment will essentially become a dead letter. . . . .

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Very shocking gun control case

"The conviction of a Wisconsin gun owner is stirring up gun advocates. CNN's Bill Tucker explains." This is a weird case. This gun owner's gun malfunctioned. The owner lent the gun to a friend. The friend fired 800 rounds from the weapon before it malfunctioned, jamming and firing more than one bullet for a pull of the trigger. This is a completely surprising and unexpected malfunction. The gun owner was charged and convicted for illegally transferring a machine gun.


More on Obama's Minister

The WSJ today has this:

In a sermon delivered at Howard University, Barack Obama's longtime minister, friend and adviser blamed America for starting the AIDS virus, training professional killers, importing drugs and creating a racist society that would never elect a black candidate president. . . .

Mr. Wright thundered on: "America is still the No. 1 killer in the world. . . . We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns, and the training of professional killers . . . We bombed Cambodia, Iraq and Nicaragua, killing women and children while trying to get public opinion turned against Castro and Ghadhafi . . . We put [Nelson] Mandela in prison and supported apartheid the whole 27 years he was there. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God."

His voice rising, Mr. Wright said, "We supported Zionism shamelessly while ignoring the Palestinians and branding anybody who spoke out against it as being anti-Semitic. . . . We care nothing about human life if the end justifies the means. . . ."

Concluding, Mr. Wright said: "We started the AIDS virus . . . We are only able to maintain our level of living by making sure that Third World people live in grinding poverty. . . ."

Considering this view of America, it's not surprising that in December Mr. Wright's church gave an award to Louis Farrakhan for lifetime achievement. In the church magazine, Trumpet, Mr. Wright spoke glowingly of the Nation of Islam leader. "His depth on analysis [sic] when it comes to the racial ills of this nation is astounding and eye-opening," Mr. Wright said of Mr. Farrakhan. "He brings a perspective that is helpful and honest." . . . .

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Did Pennsylvania Sheriff Illegally Revoke Concealed Carry Permit

Pennsylvania Sheriff being challenged in court for revoking a concealed handgun permit:

Young, a former Crawford Central School District teacher and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, turned in his conceal carry permit in February. In his letter revoking Young’s permit, Hoke quoted a passage from the state law that lays out one of the circumstances under which a sheriff can revoke a concealed carry permit. Hoke wrote that he believes Young’s “character and reputation is such that you would be likely to act in a manner dangerous to the public.”

In his appeal, Young denies that characterization of him.

He claims that had Hoke conducted an investigation — as required by law — Hoke would have concluded that Young wouldn’t be likely to act in such a manner.

In addition, Young said the law requires that the notice of revocation must state a specific reason for the action and Hoke’s did not.

Furthermore, Young said the law provides in part that a license to carry a concealed firearm may be revoked for “good cause.” Young said Hoke failed to state the facts for a good cause to revoke his license.

In his appeal, Young said his permit to carry a concealed firearm can’t be taken based only on the sheriff’s opinion, and he claims Hoke’s action was “arbitrary and capricious.” . . .


If a typical candidate belonged to a church that claimed these things, what do you think would happen to the candidate?

Don Kates sent around this note on Obama's Pastor:

Rev. Jeremiah Wright is the pastor of the church which Barack Obama joined decades ago because he was comfortable with it and of which he has been a member for over 20 years. Rev. Wright is characterized by Obama as a close friend. He married Obama and baptized the Obama children.

Evidence has now been revealed as to Rev. Wright’s views which gives context and specificity to Mrs. Obama’s general statement that she has always been ashamed of America. Rev. Wright’s sermons have endorsed the following assertions:

* AIDS was invented and spread by the U.S. government as a means of exterminating blacks.

* The U.S. government sells illegal drugs to blacks in order to degrade them and have a basis for unjustly imprisoning them.

* The 9/11 attack was a proper and reasonable response to American foreign policy.

* The existence of Israel is an oppression against Palestinians which the U.S. supports.

* In general America is an evil nation which authors most of the evil in the world.

To reiterate, these sermons give specific context to Mrs. Obama’s
recent declaration (apparently only because of Obama’s run for the
presidency) that for the first time in her adult life she is not ashamed
of America.

If a Republican candidate belonged to such a church, I don't even think that denouncing the church now would save the candidate.

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Some (not needed) evidence of self-interest in politics, the case of redoing primary votes

It looks as if the Dems are moving towards a do over in Michigan, but not Florida. Obama wanted a caucus in Florida, while Clinton wanted a primary. So why are they agreeing to a primary in Michigan? I think that the bottom line is pretty simple: Clinton leads the polls in Florida, but the polls are pretty close in Michigan.



Weather Channel Founder Again Pounds Global Warming "Scam"

The founder of the Weather Channel, John Coleman, doesn't mince words about global warming:

"As you look at the atmosphere over the last 25 years, there's been perhaps a degree of warming, perhaps probably a whole lot less than that, and the last year has been so cold that that's been erased," he said.

"I think if we continue the cooling trend a couple of more years, the general public will at last begin to realize that they've been scammed on this global warming thing." . . .

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No one shows up to vote in Tamarac, Florida election

If only one person had voted, they would have determined the outcome:

Every vote counts. But what happens when there are no votes at all? That's the situation city officials in Tamarac are facing. No voters showed up Wednesday night to cast a ballot in an annexation referendum for an unincorporated Broward County community.

There are 68 registered voters in the 200-person Prospect Bend neighborhood. Tamarac officials have proposed annexing the neighborhood.

Details were mailed to registered voters. If just one voter had shown up, that one vote would have decided the neighborhood's fate.

The cost of keeping a polling site open for 12 hours with no voters: $2,500. . . .

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"Gun Battle at the White House?"

Robert Novak's piece today might make some Republicans feel better, and give some hope that Paul Clement's argument next week before the Supreme Court might disavow part of the Department of Justice's brief.

In preparation for oral arguments Tuesday on the extent of gun rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court has before it a brief signed by Vice President Cheney opposing the Bush administration's stance. Even more remarkably, Cheney is faithfully reflecting the views of President Bush.

The government position filed with the Supreme Court by U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement stunned gun advocates by opposing the breadth of an appellate court's affirmation of individual ownership rights. The Justice Department, not the vice president, is out of order. But if Bush agrees with Cheney, why did the president not simply order Clement to revise his brief? The answers: disorganization and weakness in the eighth year of his presidency.

Consequently, a Republican administration finds itself aligned against the most popular tenet of social conservatism: gun rights, which enjoy much wider agreement than do opposition to abortion or gay marriage. . . .

I disagree with the next sentence: "Bush finds himself to the left of even Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama." In fact, Obama's position is essentially that of the Justice Department brief.

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Concealed Handgun Permits Soar in Colorado, Criminals Tell Sheriff that they avoid places with "very high concealed-carry" rates

While the Rocky Mountain News reports on March 11th regarding the increase for the entire state, this particular discussion caught my attention:

Maketa said applications rose 87 percent in his county, and most of those were for new permits rather than renewals. He said spikes in applications happened directly after high profile shootings like the Utah mall shooting, the Virginia Tech massacre and the New Life Church gun battle — all happened in 2007.

Maketa said he's not concerned about the county's growing number of legally armed people. In fact, he said he believes law-abiding citizens make the region safer by getting the permits.

"Actually, I wish it was a higher number, because I know from experience that offenders in the jail system tell me they avoid crimes against people because they know there is a very high concealed-carry rate," Maketa said. . . .


Is Credit rationing in our future?

First we had the Democratic presidential candidates promising interest rate regulations now Democrats in congress are on to regulating credit card rates:

Targeting "wild interest rate hikes," "extreme penalties" and other practices, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., introduced a credit-card reform proposal on Wednesday that he said would protect consumers from abuses. . . . .

Consumer advocates are widely in favor of proposals in the Senate bill, as well as similar legislation in the House. However, there's been concern from some industry participants and regulators about issuing new rules that could end up restricting access to credit. . . . .

A credit-card agreement is supposed to be a contract, but what good is a contract when only one party has any power to make decisions? We need to level the playing field, and the balanced reforms in this legislation will help do just that."

These guys don't seem to understand that this increased flexibility on the part of consumers comes at a cost. If customers want to be able to change their agreements, they will have to pay more money. Credit cards are competitive. If you don't want to pay the interest rate for one card company, switch. If the interest rates are regulated, they will be a shortage of credit. That is what happens when you have price controls.



Arizona Boy's life saved by Uncle's Gun

Boy saved from mountain lion attack by uncle who had a handgun in his car. This is a timely event given the debate about allowing guns in national parks. MSNBC reports:

“You could see he was definitely sizing [P.J] up,” Smith said. “He put his paw on his shoulder. He put his mouth directly on top of his head, and I think if the head had been smaller, he’d have been picked up.”

Fortunately, another adult — P.J.’s uncle — in the party had brought a handgun along and had left it in a vehicle that was parked nearby. He ran to get the gun, and when the animal started to investigate whether P.J.’s head was bite-sized, Smith told him to shoot the animal, which he did with one extremely well-placed shot. . . .

Here is a video of the interview where the grandfather said that they "fortunately" had a gun with them to stop the mountain lion.

Thanks to Mark Johnson-Barbier for providing this link.


Famous Economist Predicts "No Recession"

Ed Leamer, the director of Forecasting at UCLA, has this to say about the economy:

Brushing aside conventional wisdom, UCLA economists say California and the nation will survive the housing slump and job losses without plunging into recession -- although it will still be miserable for many Americans. "We are holding firm: no recession this time," UCLA Anderson Forecast Director Edward Leamer said in a report being released today. . . .

Note: Ed was a professor of mine at UCLA.


Appearing on Rusty Humphries Show tonight

I will be on the Rusty Humphries Show tonight at 9:48 PM EST. Andrew Breitbart will be substituting for Rusty.


Democrats in Florida and Michigan Recognize Security Issues in Mail-in Voting

From John Fund at the WSJ's Political Diary:

Democrats are inching towards a solution on how to handle the Florida and Michigan convention delegations, now barred from voting for president at the party's Denver convention because their state parties broke Democratic National Committee rules and held early primaries.

The solution would involve using privately-funded mail-in elections that would eliminate the expense of having thousands of precincts manned. Also avoided would be caucuses, which make it difficult for night shift workers and the handicapped to participate. But some knowledgeable Democrats are raising caution flags because of the experiences their states have had with mail-in ballot fraud.

Senator Carl Levin of Michigan told ABC News that there is a "security issue" with a mail-in ballot. "How do you make sure that hundreds of thousands, perhaps a million or more ballots can be properly counted and that duplicate ballots can be avoided?" Mr. Levin has vivid memories of how absentee ballots have routinely been abused in Detroit and other cities by unscrupulous candidates.

In Florida, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Miami has her own issues with a mail-in ballot. "It's fraught with problems and now is not the time to be experimenting when we're talking about stakes this high," she says. "We still have very raw nerves from the 2000 recount."

For a party that tends to pooh-pooh concerns about voter fraud, it's refreshing to see a few key Democrats alert to the problems of having ballots distributed and handled outside the supervision of election officials. Such concerns are always at their highest in elections with big stakes that could be determined by a few votes. Would that Democrats would now extend that concern to general elections where the dangers are just as great, if not greater.


Texas Information of Conviction Rates for Concealed Handgun Permit Holders

Texas has detailed information on conviction rates for permit holders by type of crime here.

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Media Bias on Coverage of Spitzer

The Media Research Center has found some more interesting information on media bias:

"For Second Night, ABC and NBC Refuse to Utter Spitzer's Party ID. Today Spends 4 Hours Ignoring the 'D' Next to Spitzer's Name. CBS's Early Show Makes No Mention of Spitzer Being a Democrat ... CNN's Costello Channels Larry Flynt's List of GOP Hypocrisy ... In 1,760 words, Tuesday's front page USA Today article on New York Governor Eliot Spitzer never identified him as a Democrat, not even in photo captions, though the online version was updated with his party affiliation, yet described Senators Larry Craig and David Vitter as Republicans in the first mentions of their names in the story."

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Interview on "Right Talk Radio" from 1:20 PM

For those interested, you can listen to Martha Zoller interview me here.

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Spitzer broke law that he signed, I can't figure out what he was thinking

One would think that if Spitzer was going to a prostitute, he would be somewhat more circumspect in attacking others who were caught going to prostitutes.

From the NY Times on Spitzer:

And with his typical zeal, he embraced their push for new legislation, including a novel idea at its heart: Go after the men who seek out prostitutes.

It was a question of supply and demand, they all agreed. And one effective way to suppress the demand was to raise the penalties for patronizing a prostitute. In his first months as governor last year, Mr. Spitzer signed the bill into law.

Now the human rights groups, which credit him with what they call the toughest and most comprehensive anti-sex-trade law in the nation, are in shock. Mr. Spitzer stands accused of being one of the very men his law was designed to catch and punish.

“It leaves those of us who worked with his office absolutely feeling betrayed,” said Dorchen Leidholdt, director of Sanctuary for Families Legal Services, one of the leaders of the coalition that drafted the legislation.

The law, which went into effect Nov. 1, mainly deals with redefining and prosecuting forms of human trafficking, which Governor Spitzer called “modern-day slavery.” It offers help to the women who are victims of the practice, rather than treating them as participants in crime. . . .

From an editorial in the NY Times (emphasis added):

While few clients of prostitutes face criminal charges, law-enforcement affidavits raise at least the possibility of criminal charges based on transporting a woman across state lines for prostitution. Mr. Spitzer’s own record of prosecuting such cases gives him scant breathing room. As state attorney general, he prosecuted prostitution rings with enthusiasm — pointing out that they are often involved in human trafficking, drug trafficking and money laundering. In 2004 on Staten Island, Mr. Spitzer was vehement in his outrage over 16 people arrested in a high-end prostitution ring. . . .

Here is something from the WSJ about his tactics as a prosecutor:

He routinely used the extraordinary threat of indicting entire firms, a financial death sentence, to force the dismissal of executives, such as AIG's Maurice "Hank" Greenberg. He routinely leaked to the press emails obtained with subpoena power to build public animosity against companies and executives. In the case of Mr. Greenberg, he went on national television to accuse the AIG founder of "illegal" behavior. Within the confines of the law itself, though, he never indicted Mr. Greenberg. Nor did he apologize.

In perhaps the incident most suggestive of Mr. Spitzer's lack of self-restraint, the then-Attorney General personally threatened John Whitehead after the former Goldman Sachs chief published an article on this page defending Mr. Greenberg. "I will be coming after you," Mr. Spitzer said, according to Mr. Whitehead's account. "You will pay the price. This is only the beginning, and you will pay dearly for what you have done."

Jack Welch, the former head of GE, said he was told to tell Ken Langone -- embroiled in Mr. Spitzer's investigation of former NYSE chairman Dick Grasso -- that the AG would "put a spike through Langone's heart." New York Congresswoman Sue Kelly, who clashed with Mr. Spitzer in 2003, had her office put out a statement that "the attorney general acted like a thug."

These are not merely acts of routine political rough-and-tumble. They were threats -- some rhetorical, some acted upon -- by one man with virtually unchecked legal powers.

Eliot Spitzer's self-destructive inability to recognize any limit on his compulsions was never more evident than his staff's enlistment of the New York State Police in a campaign to discredit the state's Senate Majority Leader, Joseph Bruno. On any level, it was nuts. Somehow, Team Spitzer thought they could get by with it. In the wake of that abusive fiasco, his public approval rating plunged. . . .

Here is something more from the WSJ:

Then again, Mr. Spitzer himself is intimately familiar with the prosecutorial tactic of dusting off old laws and repurposing them. When he became New York's Attorney General in 1999, he seized on the 1921 Martin Act and wielded it as a club against some of the biggest firms on Wall Street. The Martin Act was originally passed to facilitate the prosecution of "bucket shops" that took advantage of small-time investors, but its use became relatively rare decades ago. It should have been repealed.

However, the Martin Act was convenient for Mr. Spitzer's purposes because of the low bar it sets for bringing cases and the ability it afforded him to bring preliminary injunctions without even having to file a complaint first. Violations bring stiff civil and criminal penalties and, most important, do not require prosecutors to prove criminal intent. The law had been used primarily to pursue pyramid schemers, pump-and-dump operations and other unambiguous frauds, but Mr. Spitzer saw in it a way to exert enormous leverage over the Wall Street firms whose research practices he wanted changed. By using the Martin Act, Mr. Spitzer could more easily coerce settlements from his targets, who feared the law's low bar in court. . . .

As Mr. Spitzer knows all too well, the government has many weapons for pursuing its targets. The Governor now has to hope that federal prosecutors show more restraint than he ever did as Attorney General. . . .

What Spitzer was caught doing and how he was caught doing it is just like that how he caught others.

Spitzer of all people should have known that, said Miami-based lawyer Gregory Baldwin, credited with coining the term "smurfing" in the as a federal prosecutor.

"I think he's done enough cases where he's charged money laundering that he would know exactly what kind of information you get from the banks. It's such a perfect example of what goes around, comes around," he said.

By the time the scandal broke this week, Spitzer's financial transactions had been monitored, his phone calls had been caught on tape, and his actions had been scrutinized by federal prosecutors. It could have been straight out of the Spitzer prosecution playbook.

Minor note: Bill Clinton signed a sexual harassment law that eventually forced him to testify in the Paula Jones case. Of course, the response then was that it was all about sex (hint, surprise, that is actually what sexual harassment is about). The hypocrisy in Clinton's case didn't seem to matter. Possibly it won't matter in Spitzer's case. My own guess is that Spitzer is going to try to hang on and tough it out.


The Brain on Steroids

So people take drugs to do better research? Is that bad? How is that different than athletes on steroids? I know that I have made this point before. Greg Gutfeld makes this point here.



A Majority of British Would Reinstate the Death Penalty

A discussion of the YouGov poll can be seen here:

Half of adults in Britain would be in favour of restoring the death penalty for cases of murder, according to a poll by YouGov. 50 per cent of respondents share this opinion, while 40 per cent disagree.

Britain began a five-year moratorium on all death penalties from criminal convictions in 1965, and made the suspension permanent in 1969. Attempts to abolish the death penalty in Britain have been made since at least 1808, but each initiative was stalled at various stages of the legislative process. That said, even by 1861, there were only four civilian crimes—murder, treason, arson in royal dockyards, and piracy with violence—that were punishable by death. . . .


New Op-ed at Fox News: D.C. Gun Ban Proponents Ignore the Facts

My new op-ed with my son Maxim Lott is up:

For gun control proponents and opponents a lot is riding on a former security guard for the Supreme Court Annex. Next Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether the District of Columbia's ban on handguns and its requirement that any rifles or shotguns remain locked violates the plaintiff, Dick Heller's, constitutional rights.

Whatever the court decides, no one expects them to end gun control any more than the First Amendment's "congress shall make no laws" has prevented the passage of campaign finance regulations. The decision is likely to be limited to just whether a ban "infringed" on "the right of the people to keep and bear arms."

If the D.C. ban is accepted by the court, it is hard to believe that any gun regulation will ever be struck down. If the court strikes it down, where the courts draw the line on what laws are considered "reasonable" regulations will take years to sort out . . .

Some comments on this piece can be found here and here.

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Book signing today

Book signing this evening in Annapolis:

John Lott, an economist and author, will sign copies of his new book "Freedomnomics: Why The Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don't" at a Tuesday book signing sponsored by the Maryland Republican Party.

Dr. Lott is an economics professor at the University of Maryland and has held posts at the University of Chicago and Yale University, and has served as chief economist of the United States Sentencing Commission that establishes sentencing policies and practices for the federal courts.

He has written five books, including one supporting gun rights.

The book signing will be held from 6-8 p.m. at the Maryland Republican Party Headquarters, 15 West St. in Annapolis. . . .


Media Bias in Coverage of Governor Eliot Spitzer Problems

Quote from today's WSJ's Political Diary:

"In lead stories Monday night about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer being linked to a prostitution ring, neither ABC's World News nor the NBC Nightly News verbally identified Spitzer's political party. Must mean he's a liberal Democrat -- and he is. CBS anchor Katie Couric, however, managed to squeeze in a mention of his party. On ABC, the only hints as to Spitzer's party were a few seconds of video of Spitzer beside Hillary Clinton as they walked down some steps and a (D) on screen by Spitzer's name over part of one soundbite. NBC didn't even do that. While ABC and NBC failed to cite Spitzer's political affiliation in the four minutes or so each network dedicated to the revelations, both managed to find time to applaud his reputation and effectiveness as the Empire State's Attorney General before becoming Governor" -- Brent Baker of the conservative Media Research Institute.


The impact of Campaign Finance Reform on the Quality of Candidates

Of course, this problem is not just experienced by Republicans:

The Hastert machine exhibited the current prejudice of Republican leaders in favor of "self-funders" who can finance their own campaigns, even though they may not be the most skilled of candidates. . . .

Wealthy candidates can find it much easier to raise large amounts of money for their campaign than people who have to go out and raise it from others. My book, Freedomnomics, has a long discussion on this.


Massive Fraud in Asbestos Claims

The WSJ (March 8) reports that:

A retired epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease Control testified there were no more than 28,000 medically plausible cases of asbestosis in the U.S. male population between 1989 and 2001. Grace was hit with more than 200,000 claims over that period.

In another instance, a doctor presented a study involving 807 X-rays from Grace claimants. Doctors hired by the plaintiffs lawyers had found evidence of asbestosis in about 80% of those X-rays. In a double-blind study in which doctors didn't know the purpose of the work, they found evidence in only 7% of X-rays. . . .

"no more than 28,000 medically plausible cases"? That is an absolute maximum. The 200,000 cases are against just one company. Obviously, there must have been more cases brought than those 200,000. In any case, this implies a falsification rate of at least 86 percent.

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20 Percent of South Carolina Legislators have Concealed Handgun Permits

The State newspaper reports:

One in five state lawmakers has a concealed-weapons permit.

According to an analysis by The State newspaper, 37 lawmakers — seven of 46 state senators and 30 of 124 state representatives — can carry a firearm legally.

How many state lawmakers carry concealed weapons has become an issue because of two proposals before the Legislature.

One would make secret the now-public list of South Carolinians who can carry concealed weapons. The other proposal —watered down last week — would allow anyone to keep a weapon in a car while parked at the State House.

Lawmakers who pack heat interviewed by The State say they carry concealed weapons primarily out of fear of the unknown.

“Lawmakers fall into that category of people who sometimes become targets,” said Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, who doesn’t have a concealed-weapons permit but keeps a Glock in his car. . . .

Thirty-eight lawmakers have permits, according to the list kept by the State Law Enforcement Division. Two other lawmakers — Rep. Dennis Moss, D-Cherokee, and Sen. Jake Knotts, R-Lexington, — can carry a handgun legally because they’re retired law-enforcement officers. . . .

That is 15 percent of state Senators and 24 percent of state Representatives.

Doug Pennington of the Washington-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said Kelly’s bill could make the State House less safe, not safer.

“This creates a gun-accident and gun-theft risk,” he said. “Right now, there isn’t one.” . . .

It would be nice if Mr. Pennington could actually give some examples.



Can Corzine pay for the Florida and Michigan elections?

I am not sure that Corzine can legally contribute a large amount of money to redo these votes. I believe that since it is a federal election it comes under the McCain-Feingold regulations:

NBC News has learned that New Jersey's Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine is willing to raise money to pay for a "redo" of both the Florida and Michigan primaries.

Both states violated Democratic Party rules by holding early primaries and have been penalized with the loss of their delegate votes during the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August.

Apparently because both states voted for Hillary Clinton, Corzine, along with neighboring Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell -- both strong Clinton supporters -- have agreed to make the offer to help foot the bill for a redo of the primaries. . . .

Corzine, a retired Goldman Sachs chairman, would likely contribute some of his own fortune to a redo of the primaries, since he spent well over $100 million in personal funds in successful bids for the U.S. Senate in 2000, and for Governor in 2005.

Thanks to Gus Cotey for sending me this link. I had listened to Meet the Press yesterday and heard Rendell making this claim.


T-shirt with Gun Image Gets Detention

The Associate Press writes:

LANCASTER, Pa. -- The family of a middle school student who was given detention for wearing a T-shirt bearing the image of a gun has filed a federal freedom of speech lawsuit against the school district.

Donald Miller III, 14, went to Penn Manor High School in December wearing a T-shirt he said was intended to honor his uncle, a U.S. Army soldier fighting in Iraq.

The shirt bears the image of a military sidearm and on the front pocket says "Volunteer Homeland Security." On the back, over another image of the weapon, are the words "Special issue Resident Lifetime License - United States Terrorist Hunting Permit - Permit No. 91101 - Gun Owner - No Bag Limit."

Officials at the Millersville school told him to turn his shirt inside out. When Miller refused, he got two days of detention.

His parents, Donald and Tina Miller of Holtwood, have accused the Penn Manor School District in a lawsuit of violating their son's First Amendment rights with a "vague Orwellian policy" that stifles both patriotism and free speech.

But an attorney for the school district said school must create a safe environment for students in the post-Columbine era, and bringing even the image of a gun to school violates the district's policy. . .

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Eliot Spitzer caught in Prostitution Ring

By now many have heard about Governor Elliot Spitzer's involvement with a prostitution ring. There are surely worse things for a person to do, but what is interesting is the "revulsion and anger" that he has shown to others involved in this type of case before. The problem is how the press having gone after Republicans because of their hypocrisy over these family issues and forcing them to resign will now go after Spitzer:

Mr. Spitzer gained national attention when he served as attorney general with his relentless pursuit of Wall Street wrongdoing. As attorney general, he also had prosecuted at least two prostitution rings as head of the state’s organized crime task force.

In one such case in 2004, Mr. Spitzer spoke with revulsion and anger after announcing the arrest of 16 people for operating a high-end prostitution ring out of Staten Island. . . .

$5,500 per hour prostitution service sure makes these Democrats appear to have a lot in common with everyday middle class people.

Governor Spitzer's public statement can be seen here, though he wouldn't take any questions and had it take place before most of the press could get there.


Appearing on The Ed Morrissey Show at 3 PM EDT

This is a blog talk radio show. You can go here to listen.

Today, on the Ed Morrissey Show (3 pm ET), John Lott talks about the last hurrah for campaign-finance reform.


"Recycle or Repent," and the Catholic church wonders why there is a "decreasing sense of sin"

If you include more and more things (and particularly dumb things) on the list of sins, it dilutes the important ones that you have on the list. Now the Catholic church is including things like recycling:

ROME — Drug pushers, the obscenely rich, environmental polluters and “manipulative” genetic scientists beware — you may be in danger of losing your mortal soul unless you repent.

After 1,500 years the Vatican has brought the seven deadly sins up to date by adding seven new ones for the age of globalization. The list, published yesterday in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, came as the Pope deplored the “decreasing sense of sin” in today’s “secularized world” and the falling numbers of Roman Catholics going to confession.

The Catholic Church divides sins into venial, or less serious, sins and mortal sins, which threaten the soul with eternal damnation unless absolved before death through confession and penitence . . .


Environmentalists demand Florida Marlins stop player from hunting

Palm Beach Post had this story on Sunday:

Could be a long season for the Florida Marlins, and not just because of the expected losses.

The environmental group that saw 27 of its members arrested last month in a protest against FPL is telling the Marlins they need to rein in pitcher Logan Kensing, or else.

What did the reliever do?

The off-season rancher finds it rewarding to track wild hogs and coyotes with a helicopter hovering over his native Texas, then gun them down from above.

"We want the Marlins to make him agree to stop," said the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition's co-chair, attorney Barry Silver. . . . .

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Global Freezing: The UK Telegraph Wonders Why the Media is Silent on this

From today's UK Telegraph:

Last week, virtually unreported in Britain, the extraordinary winter weather of 2008 elsewhere in the world continued. In the USA, there were blizzards as far south as Texas and Arkansas, while in northern states and Canada what they are calling "the winter from hell" has continued to break records going back in some cases to 1873. Meanwhile in Asia more details emerged of the catastrophe caused by the northern hemisphere's greatest snow cover since 1966. . . .

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The Cosmic Ray Destroyed My Computer File

At least people have another excuse to use if their computer crashes and they lose their files.

How can distant supernovae, black holes and other cosmic events cause a desktop computer to crash?

The answer is that they produce cosmic rays, which produce high energy particles in the atmosphere that can occasionally hit RAM chips. The moving particles trail electrons, which can infiltrate chips' circuits and cause errors.

That's why computer chip giant Intel was in December awarded a US patent for the idea of building cosmic ray detectors into every chip (full patent). . . .

I guess we will soon be able to note that our computers have another neat feature: cosmic ray detector.