Obama trying for Knockout blow in Pennsylvania

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are smashing spending records with a statewide barrage of television ads as they near the finish line of their six-week marathon.
Obama is outspending Clinton by more than 2-to-1 on television ads in Pennsylvania during the final week before Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary, according to ad tracking sources and Tribune-Review research.

He had been outspending her by about 3-to-1 before she started pouring more money into TV spots last week. Clinton hopes to gain fresh momentum with a Pennsylvania victory, and Obama hopes to make the Keystone State her last stand.

Obama, who trails Clinton in most statewide polls, spent about $3 million on TV in the final week; Clinton spent nearly $1.4 million, according to The Campaign Group, an independent media consulting firm. In the Pittsburgh market, Obama bought nearly $500,000 in spots, compared with about $203,000 for Clinton. In the Philadelphia market, Obama is spending nearly $1.8 million on TV; Clinton, $865,000.

Media experts consider $1 million spent over a week on television in Pennsylvania a strong buy. . . .

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First Claiming to Support Guns, Now Going After the Coal Vote?

The AP reports:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are walking a delicate line as they promise to aggressively tackle global warming while trying to assure voters that they continue to believe in the future of coal.
In states like Pennsylvania, where voters will cast ballots this Tuesday, and in West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Montana — upcoming primary states — coal sways voters. . . .


The Politico Notes the Rush of the Press to Defend Obama After Wednesday's Debate

The Politico's article gets good here:

But the protectiveness toward Obama revealed in the embarrassing rush of many journalists to his side this week does touch on at least four deeper trends in the news business. . . .

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Washington Post on Obama's and Clinton's Top Ten Flip-flops

I would have picked a different set of top five flip-flops, but here are the Post's for Obama:

1. Special Interests
Back in January, the Obama campaign described union contributions to the Clinton and Edwards campaign as "special interest" money. He changed his tune as he went after union endorsements himself. He now refers respectfully to unions as the representatives of "working people" and says he is "thrilled" by their support.

2. Public Financing
Obama replied "yes" in September 2007 when asked if he would agree to public financing of the presidential election if his GOP opponent did the same. His spokesman now says that he never gave such a pledge, and Obama himself has attached several conditions, including regulating spending by outside groups.

3. The Cuba embargo
In January 2004, Obama said flatly that it was time "to end the embargo with Cuba," because it had "utterly failed in the effort to overthrow Castro." Speaking to a Cuban-American audience in Miami in August 2007, he said he would not "take off the embargo" as president because it was "an important inducement for change."

4. Illegal immigration
In a March 2004 questionnaire, Obama was asked if the government should "crack down on businesses that hire illegal immigrants." He replied "Oppose." In a televised debate on January 31, he said that "we do have to crack down on those employers that are taking advantage of the situation."

5. Decriminalization of Marijuana
While running for the U.S. Senate in January 2004, Obama told Illinois college students that he supported eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana use. In the October 30, 2007 presidential debate, he joined other Democratic candidates in opposing the decriminalization of marijuana.

One massive change in Obama's positions that I would have mentioned is on guns (see here). However, I do agree on his change on campaign finance regulation.

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Why Newt?: Newt does global warming ad for Al Gore

The San Francisco Chronicle has the story here:

The political odd couple of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich has teamed up to film a new TV ad urging U.S. leaders -- yes, that's aimed at you, President Bush -- to take immediate action on climate change.

It's the second of the "Unlikely Alliances" spots filmed as part of former Vice President Al Gore's $300 million "We" advertising and online activism campaign designed to get the American public to pressure their elected officials to address global warming. . . .

"We don't always see eye to eye, do we, Newt?" Pelosi asks.

"No," Gingrich replies. "But we do agree our country must take action to address climate change."

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Yet more regulations on restaurants in New York City

The bottom line is that if the customers really wanted this information, restaurants would provide it:

NEW YORK - New York City health officials won a big victory Wednesday when a federal judge upheld a regulation requiring some chain restaurants to post calories on menus and menu boards.

U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell rebuffed a challenge from the New York State Restaurant Association, an industry trade group that argued that the rule violates the First Amendment by forcing restaurants to "convey the government's message regarding the importance of calories."

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene believes the regulation, which takes effect Monday, will help the city achieve its goal of reducing obesity. The judge agreed.

"It seems reasonable to expect that some consumers will use the information disclosed ... to select lower calorie meals ... and these choices will lead to a lower incidence of obesity," Holwell said. . . . .

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A Canadian with a Gun catches a horrible criminal

A Canadian with a gun catches a criminal when the police failed:

The manhunt is over for a father accused of killing his three young children in British Columbia.

Allan Dwayne Schoenborn, 40, was “almost dead” when a trapper found him Wednesday morning in the woods outside of Merritt, a small town in the province’s Interior.

Allan Dwayne Schoenborn, the prime suspect in the slayings of his three children in Merritt, B.C., has been found.
Photograph by : Handout

Kim Robinson, 51, had been hunting Schoenborn — the prime suspect in the killings of Kaitlynne, 10, Max, 8, and Cordon, 5 — for two to three hours every day since the murders. . . .

Russ Walsh, who sent me the story, wrote:
For the past two weeks scores of Canadian policemen with helicopters, infra-red detectors, dogs, armored personnel carriers, and other high tech gadgetry have been hunting a deranged man who killed his three children. They failed. He was found by a local trapper who, with his dog and his gun, went out by himself for 2 or 3 hours every day, meticulously tracking the suspect. And he found him and delivered him to the police. The news story below doesn't adequately express the disgust everyone has with the police and how elated people are that a man with his gun did what dozens of mounties with helicopters couldn't. It has really elevated gun ownership here, despite Canada's Stalinist policies against guns of every kind, including fake ones.

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A citizen's guns were not far away when the Virginia Tech attack occurred

The Washington Times has the story here:

NARROWS, Va. (AP) -- Allen Neely eases his Chrysler Pacifica onto the bridge named in honor of Jarrett Lane, who grew up in this tiny town near the West Virginia state line. Mr. Lane, Mr. Neely says quietly, always wanted to build a bridge. Under the back seat are two pistols. Mr. Neely keeps them close these days. He and his construction crew were in Virginia Tech's Norris Hall a year ago this week when a mentally ill student went on a rampage, killing Jarrett Lane and 31 others.

Since then, Mr. Neely feels safer if his guns are within reach. . . .

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Talk on Monday at the University of Kentucky

On Monday I will be talking at the University of Kentucky about multiple public shooting. The talk is supposed to be at 5 PM.


This is just too weird: Obama's "flip" response to Clinton

How weird is this:

Just when you thought the Democratic race couldn’t get uglier, Barack Obama is being accused of giving Hillary Clinton the finger at a town hall meeting in North Carolina.

The gesture — which may have been an innocent scratch of the face or, according to some, something more mischievous — came as Obama was complaining Thursday about the debate in Philadelphia the night before.

Bloggers were quick to note that as the Illinois senator scolded his Democratic rival for her performance at the debate, he raised his right hand and scratched his cheek with one finger. That finger.

“This is one of those political moments that really needs few words,” wrote the Los Angeles Times in a blog. “He’ll no doubt deny it later, but that mischievous smile seems to confirm plenty. And the crowd sure sees something.” . . .

The Huffington Post says that it is just a serious of small mistakes that falsely created this impression:

Unfortunately, the middle finger scratch came at the instant he was laying some leather to Hillary. No Ouija Board needed to predict the rest. The itch, the scratch, the middle finger and the Hillary knock in the world of minutiae punditry added up to one thing. Obama flipped her off. You Tube ran it incessantly, and respected pundits, jumped into the fray quickly. Obama committed the ultimate in a crude, no-class vulgarity. Mercifully, Team Obama, had the good grace, and sense, not to bother dignifying this inanity. No matter two days later, the blog tongues were still wagging furiously did he or didn't he on it. . . .

When you have the LA Times seemingly taking this seriously, it could cause problems for Obama.

Ed Morrissey writes on it here and provides video.

Who knows what was meant if anything here. I just don't think that there is much of a return to discussing it.

UPDATE: Well, I watched the video and it is depressing. What is bizarre about all this is that the crowd reacted to Obama when he put up his middle finger while talking about Clinton. Even more bizarre is that Obama smiled when the crowd reacted. I wanted to believe that this wasn't the case, but the video sure looks damming.

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The Economics of Polygamy

This discussion on Fox News points to what happens to the relative value of girls and boys when you have polygamy. The boys are driven out of the groups when they turn about 15 years of age.

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Pilot discharged for accidental gun discharge

The final outcome of the pilot who accidentally discharged his handgun when he was re-installing the trigger lock on his gun is discussed here:

A US Airways pilot who said he accidentally discharged a pistol in the cockpit during a flight has been fired.

The pilot, Capt. James Langenhahn, 55, of Franklin Park, reportedly told avaiation officials that his .40-caliber pistol accidentally discharged March 22.

The shot was fired while Capt. Langenhahn was stowing weapon as the jet prepared to land in Charlotte, N.C. Damage was limited to a bullet hole in the left side of the fuselage.

Scott Theuer, spokesman for the newly validated US Airlines Pilots Association, said the union had heard about the pending firing.

"We will fight it vigorously," Mr. Theuer said.

The incident is the first to be reported since 2002 when pilots were permitted to be armed. Those who carry firearms have been trained through the Federal Deck Officer program.

The incredibly dumb TSA rule that requires a trigger lock be put on loaded guns is what is to blame. There is a reason why trigger lock makers warn people not to instill trigger locks on loaded guns.

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Nevada's concealed handgun law is obviously needlessly complicated on at least one point

If you can handle seven different concealed handguns, I have a hard time understanding why anyone would worry about him not being able to handle his other two handguns. The Las Vegas Review-Journal notes:

Gov. Jim Gibbons' 10-year-old permit to carry a concealed firearm has been in the news, of late.

The governor temporarily surrendered his permit after it was found he hadn't re-qualified with each of the nine handguns listed on his permit, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported earlier this month.

The Washoe County sheriff's office renewed the governor's permit in December, after Gov. Gibbons and a certified firearms instructor signed an application reporting he'd demonstrated competence with each of the nine weapons he's licensed to carry, the paper reported.

But the governor carried only seven guns to the range. He promised the instructor he'd come back with the remaining two weapons within a few days, but said he "got busy" and didn't return to be tested after receiving his renewed permit.

About a month later, Gov. Gibbons "realized he had not followed through on his intention to test the two weapons" and turned his permit back in to the Washoe County sheriff's office, press secretary Ben Kieckhefer said in a written statement. Gov. Gibbons then went through the proper certification and was reissued his permit.

The requirement that Nevadans "qualify" with each weapon they might carry is slightly absurd. Qualifying with one revolver and one semiautomatic pistol should suffice. That's not what's been generating the minor tempest, though.


Cheney's jokes at Radio & TV Correspondents Dinner


Judge blocks new Philly gun laws

Fox News reports:

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia judge has temporarily blocked the violence-plagued city from enforcing its new gun-control laws.

Common Pleas Judge Jane Cutler Greenspan is granting the National Rifle Association's request Thursday to keep the ordinances from taking effect right away. The NRA argues that Pennsylvania law prevents municipalities from regulating guns.

Philadelphia has seen nearly a gun killing per day this year. The new rules would require gun owners to report the theft or loss of a gun within 24 hours. They also would ban possessing or selling assault weapons and set a limit of one gun purchase per month.

The first of the ordinances was to take effect next month. Hearings on the issue are set for April 28.

Thanks to Brent for sending me this link.



Walking increases the brain's performance

Prevent the decline of the brain through exercise. The front part of the brain is particularly effected by exercise. Fox News has a video here.


Corruption Perceptions Index 2007

There is an interesting survey on the perception of corruption. There appears to be kind of an inverted "U" shape between corruption and totalitarianism.

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New News piece up at Fox News: McCain in the Middle?

My new piece can be found here:

Just where does John McCain fit in the political spectrum?

While conservative talk radio shows such as Rush Limbaugh's paint McCain as a moderate, some in the mainstream media have begun arguing that McCain is a strong conservative. This debate could well determine who votes for him in November.

Libby Quaid, with the Associated Press, claims that people are misled in believing McCain is a political independent. His article on Monday argued that despite how McCain "antagonizes fellow Republicans and likes to work with Democrats. ... a different label applies to his actual record: conservative."

But Quaid’s analysis faces several significant problems. While focusing on McCain’s votes on abortion, gay rights and gun control, no explanation is offered for why certain votes are examined and others are not, and he fails to compare how McCain ranks relative to other senators. . . .

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A "mortifying faux pas!"

For those who would like a good laugh, you might find this amusing.

Thanks very much to Janet Fallon for sending this to me.


Lieberman might have some problems with his party after this summer

Zell Miller did this before and wasn't kicked out of the party, but I am sure that this will at least cause some tension:

McCain has yet to ask Lieberman to speak, either in primetime or elsewhere, at the convention. But if McCain thinks it will help make his case for the White House, as some of his allies suspect, Lieberman would be willing to speak on his behalf.
“If Sen. McCain, who I support so strongly, asked me to do it, if he thinks it will help him, I will,” Lieberman said in a brief interview.

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Death Penalty Executions Can Go Ahead for Now

Today's decision by the US Supreme Court means that the presidential race this year could well determine if the death penalty can be continued. The 7 to 2 decision is much closer than what it appears. In a very splintered decision, only a plurality held any part of the case. As the AP reports:

Roberts' opinion did leave open subsequent challenges to lethal injection practices if a state refused to adopt an alternative method that significantly reduced the risk of severe pain. . . .


Revisiting Virginia Tech on its Anniversary

The Chronicle of Higher Education coverage starts with this example:

Ethan Elliott was a corporal in the Marine Corps when 32 students and professors were shot dead at Virginia Tech. Now he's a freshman at Pima Community College who wants to protect himself and others from a similar incident — by carrying a gun on the Tucson, Ariz., campus. . . .

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So if there are reparations for slaves, does Obama owe others money?

From the Chicago Tribune:

It appears that forebears of his white mother owned slaves, according to genealogical research and census records. According to the research, one of Obama's great-great-great-great grandfathers, George Washington Overall, owned two slaves who were recorded in the 1850 census in Nelson County, Ky. The same records show that one of Obama's great-great-great-great-great-grandmothers, Mary Duvall, also owned two slaves.' . . .

Since Obama's father was from Africa and his family never lived in the US, there is nothing on the other side to balance off the ledger.

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Do Americans think that America is A Good Country?

Michael Barone has the discussion here:

Periodically pollster Scott Rasmussen asks voters whether they think America is basically fair and decent or whether America is basically unfair and discriminatory. In the latest survey, 64 percent say America is basically fair and decent, and 22 percent say it is unfair and discriminatory. Men (70 percent) are considerably more likely than women (59 percent) to say that America is fair and decent. As one might expect, blacks tend to think America is unfair and discriminatory rather than fair and decent, by a 47 percent to 37 percent margin. Whites take a positive view (67 percent to 18 percent) and so do "others" (63 percent to 33 percent), a category that I assume is mostly made up of Hispanics. Republicans by a wide margin (78 percent to 12 percent) see America as fair and decent, while Democrats are split (49 percent to 36 percent). . . .

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The political mess at the FEC:

John Fund at the WSJ's Political Diary writes:

The Federal Election Commission, down to only two out of its six required members since January, suffered another blow yesterday. A Democratic nominee for a vacancy announced he was withdrawing. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it will "most likely" take several months to find a replacement for Robert Lenhard, who said in a statement he couldn't wait any longer in limbo.

Leaving the FEC with only a skeleton crew means the agency can't open new cases, hold public meetings or even issue advisory opinions. Michael Toner, a former FEC chairman, says the inability of the White House and the Senate to agree on nominees "hurts the ability of parties and candidates to comply with the law." The commission does not have the legal authority without a quorum to release the public financing funds that may be vital to John McCain's fall campaign -- a situation that perhaps suits Barack Obama, who has declared that his large haul of private Internet donations represents a new kind of "public financing" and who seems intent on reneging on his previous pledges to abide by the public financing system.

Democrats created the FEC impasse last year when they balked at confirming Hans von Spakovsky, who had served on the FEC for two years. Ironically, it was Sen. Obama himself who put the nomination on hold because Mr. von Spakovsky, as a Justice Department official, had supported laws requiring voters to show photo ID. Those laws have since been upheld as Constitutional by several federal courts and the Supreme Court is likely to follow suit in a decision it will hand down this June.

So much for Mr. Obama's call to transcend partisanship. . . .

Part of the problem here is that no matter who wins the presidential election this year there will likely be a major change in the types of people approved to be on the FEC. McCain would definitely appoint different people than Bush, and so I think that Dems want to wait to create a different type of commission right after the beginning of next year.

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New Op-ed up at Fox News: Obama Bitter About Free Markets

My new Fox News piece is here:

But, while his left-wing economic views are much less well known, they show a similar pattern.

Obama also never seems to have found a market that can work without extensive government regulation. During Obama’s big economic address at the very end of March, little attention was given in the American press to his deep distrust of the free market and his laundry list of failures of deregulation.

From telecommunications to electricity to banking to accounting, he blamed the failures as a product of markets out of control, with not enough government regulations to rein in "an ethic of greed, corner cutting, insider dealing, things that have always threatened the long-term stability of our economic system." . . .


Land mines that Obama Faces this Fall

John Fund has this at the WSJ:

His statements that he wants to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, combined with his lack of foreign policy experience, could hurt him. And his aides are hard pressed to come up with any deviations in a voting record the nonpartisan National Journal calls the most liberal of any U.S. Senator.

As a state legislator he was even more off-center. In 1996, he opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, which the Senate approved 85-14 and President Clinton signed into law. He twice voted "present" on a bill to ban partial-birth abortions. In 1999, he was the only state senator to oppose a law that prohibited early prison release for sex offenders.

Mr. Obama also backed a total ban on handguns, a move his campaign now says was the result of a rogue aide filling out a questionnaire. But Mr. Obama's own handwritten notes were found on the questionnaire, calling into question the campaign's version of what happened. . . .

Then there is trade, where his insincerity is at least as clumsy as Mrs. Clinton's. During the San Francisco episode, Mr. Obama had a throwaway line about how working-class voters fixate on "anti-trade sentiment" in order to vent their frustrations. But isn't it Barack Obama who has been spending months stirring up "anti-trade sentiment?" He has threatened to yank the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement unless Canada and Mexico renegotiate it. Last week, he denounced the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

According to Canadian diplomats, top Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee admitted to them that they could dismiss his man's anti-Nafta rhetoric. All of this makes Democrats wonder if Mr. Obama is ready for prime time. . . .

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Bloomberg to hold another gun control summit

The New York Sun discusses the issue here:

Mayor Bloomberg is gearing up for the third annual Washington summit of his coalition against illegal guns, a group that now includes more than 300 mayors nationwide along with county executives and state legislators. . . . .



As Dems take control of state governments a new push for gun control

The New York Times has this:

State lawmakers across the country are ramping up efforts to pass new restrictions on guns, following nearly a decade in which state legislative efforts have been dominated by gun advocates.

Much of the proposed legislation — some 38 states are considering gun-related bills — focuses on cutting off gun access to convicted criminals and the mentally ill and on improving methods to trace guns used in crimes. . . .

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a prominent antigun group, has identified 52 bills it considers a priority for passage in 22 states, compared with 30 such bills two years ago.

“For years we were chasing the N.R.A.’s tail,” Brian Malte, the group’s state legislation and politics director, said of the National Rifle Association. “But now we feel they are chasing our priorities.”


Italian Election Earthquake: Berluscon's dominating win, voters eliminate all Communist and Green Party Members from Parliament

Michael Ledeen has the story at NRO:

Huge, perhaps historic, victory for Berlusconi's "Popolo della liberta' " (which translates a bit awkwardly as "the people of liberty;" maybe it's better to call it "the freedom folks"). It's considerably worse than AP lets on. Berlusconi defeated Walter Veltroni's "Democratic Party" by a full 9 points in both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. And since the Italian electoral system gives a bonus to the winning side, the margins are very big and stable: 340 to 241 in the Chamber (with another 36 for a couple of small parties), and 167 to 137 in the Senate (with 5 to three little parties), which was expected to be a photo finish. Eighty percent voted, down about three percent from last time.

The big news is that the Communists are gone, for the first time since the end of the Second World War. Really gone. They didn't win a single seat in either chamber. A lot of famous faces will vanish from Parliament, and it is even possible, although unlikely, that some of the comrades will be forced to join the working class. The Greens are also gone. In fact, there are only six parties in the new Parliament, suggesting that Italy's well on the road to a two-party political system instead of the dreadful proportional electoral model that has destroyed virtually every country where it's been applied. If that happens, a lot of the credit goes to Veltroni, who created a real center-left party and refused to admit the old Left.

Tomorrow's papers will pretend that this didn't happen, and warn that Berlusconi's allies in the Northern League are mercurial and dangerous, and that his majority isn't as stable as it looks. But it is. And there's an even more annoying feature to these elections, as seen by the chattering classes: Berlusconi is an outspoken, even passionate admirer of George W. Bush and the United States of America. Reminds one of the elections that brought Sarkozy to the Elysee, doesn't it? Best to keep that quiet, or somebody might notice that hatred of America doesn't seem to affect the voters in Italy, France or Germany. . . .


Ben Stein's new movie

This movie by Ben Stein should be a lot of fun. I might not agree with some of his discussion, but the notion of academia being closed to religious views is completely accurate. I have personally talked to academic economists who have told me that they could never vote for tenure for someone who believed in God.


The motivation for push for handgun ban in Canada

Lorne Gunter has this piece in the Canadian National Post:

In a nutshell, Mr. James' thesis is that even though a ban on handguns in Canada would be largely ineffective at combating crime, Ottawa should enact one anyway since such a prohibition is popular in Toronto and would be a clarion symbol of our national commitment to ending violence; not to mention demonstrating our sympathy with the victims of gun crime.

"Any ban on handguns is a public statement," Mr. James wrote. "It expresses the collective will and desire of a community, a city or a country. It will take more than a ban to rid us of the scourge of gun violence. And its effectiveness has been proven spotty and inconclusive in other jurisdictions. But it is a tool acceptable to most Torontonians, in spite of the legitimate arguments of gun owners and scepticism about its efficacy."

Handgun bans are not merely of dubious efficacy. They are completely ineffective. And the evidence of this is not merely "spotty," it's glaring. . . .

This piece is good, but he does mistakenly think that NYC has a gun ban.

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Clinton misspeaks about experience with guns

The Boston Herald has this interesting discussion:

Vice president Dick Cheney has challenged Hillary Clinton to a shooting match to test whether her professed love of guns is real or not.

A day after the Democratic presidential candidate discussed her fond memories of shooting with her father, Cheney threw down the gauntlet.

“To be frank, Hillary Clinton’s stories about her adventures with guns don’t exactly pass the smell test,” Cheney told Tim Russert on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ yesterday.

“If she really wants to show that she knows how to handle a rifle, there’s an easy way to do that: meet me in the woods.”

Clinton touted her experience with guns as she continued a weekend tirade against her Democratic rival Barack Obama’s controversial comments about “bitter” working-class voters, frustrated by economic woes and immigration, who “cling to guns or religion.” Obama later said he “regretted” the comments.

The New York senator called Obama “elitist” and “out of touch” before reminiscing about shooting trips with her father and downing shots and beer with supporters in Indiana.

But shortly after Cheney’s challenge, Clinton said she had “misspoke” about her gun exploits as a child. “I fired a gun once, but I didn’t like it, and I didn’t recoil,” she said. . . .

This is particularly funny given her previous discussion about going duck hunting with a rifle. So her story is that she only shot a gun once, it was a rifle and she took down a duck with that one single shot.

Sonya Jones alerted me this morning that something is strange with this piece in that it was taken down by the Boston Herald sometime during the night.

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One Result of Environmental Regulations: Food Riots?

For those who claim that something must be done about global warming and who push things such as ethanol, here is one consequence of how this effects the world. Remember that there is a world market for food. If the price of food goes up someplace, it will go up in others. Not only does the higher price for corn directly raise the prices of animals raised on corn, but it causes some farmers to switch from growing other crops into growing corn, thus reducing the supply of those other products and raising their prices also. Here is a piece from the WSJ:

Surging commodity prices have pushed up global food prices 83% in the past three years, according to the World Bank -- putting huge stress on some of the world's poorest nations. Even as the ministers met, Haiti's Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis was resigning after a week in which that tiny country's capital was racked by rioting over higher prices for staples like rice and beans.

Rioting in response to soaring food prices recently has broken out in Egypt, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Ethiopia. In Pakistan and Thailand, army troops have been deployed to deter food theft from fields and warehouses. World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned in a recent speech that 33 countries are at risk of social upheaval because of rising food prices. Those could include Indonesia, Yemen, Ghana, Uzbekistan and the Philippines. In countries where buying food requires half to three-quarters of a poor person's income, "there is no margin for survival," he said.

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The Electoral College Math

Richard Baehr over at the American Thinker has this interesting discussion:

Obama's Electoral College problem is that his strongest states, where he runs better than Clinton, are states where the Democrats are still likely to lose, though maybe a bit less decisively with Obama at the top of the ticket. These states include deep South states with high African American percentages of the population: Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and North Carolina, and some central and western states with very few black voters: Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, Alaska, and the Dakotas. Losing a state by 10% rather than 20% still collects zero Electoral College votes. On the other hand, Obama is running ahead of Clinton in some states the Democrats have been winning regularly of late: Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Maine, Hawaii, and Maryland, which adds no Electoral College votes to the Party's count. In general, Obama is running better among white voters in states with few black voters, and worse than Clinton among white voters in states with higher percentages of blacks.

The sociologists can opine on what that means, but the Electoral College math shows this: the most competitive of the large swing states -- Ohio (4% margin for Bush in 2000, 2% for Bush in 2004), Michigan (5% Gore win in 2000, 3% Kerry win in 2004), Pennsylvania (5% Gore win in 2000, 2% Kerry win in 2004), and Florida (tie in 2000, 5% Bush win in 2004) -- are all states where Clinton is more competitive with McCain than Obama is with McCain at the moment (though Rasmussen has Obama a bit closer in Florida, differing from all other surveys of that state). . . .



Store clerk shoots robber

The Orlando Sentinel on April 13th notes:

Robbery suspect shot by store clerk dies
Etan Horowitz
1:35 PM EDT, April 13, 2008

ORLANDO - A 22-year-old man who was shot by a store clerk while trying to rob the store Saturday night, died from his injuries this morning, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Ronel Utile died at about 11:30 a.m. today at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Around 8:10 p.m. Saturday, Utile and another man entered Mi Bodega Latina Grocery on Old Cheney Highway in Orlando wearing scarves on their faces. One man revealed a handgun and demanded money.

One of the three store workers shot Utile, who was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center after the incident.

Thanks to WIlliam Ewans for the link.


Lott v. Levitt: The Appeal

The settlement in the original lower court case resulted in Levitt's "correction letter" and allowed for me to appeal the decision on the first count. Here is a copy of my filing in the appeal and Levitt's response. This article on the Chronicle of Higher Education blog reviews the discussion, though I wish that it had mentioned the "e-mails," not just the "e-mail," and that the libel per quod had been brought up in the lower court, not just now. It would have been nice if the Chronicle reporter, David Glenn, had noted that the settlement with Levitt in the lower court preserved the right to appeal the first count.


How gun registration works in solving crime in Canada

From the April 12th Globe and Mail:

Of the 108 handguns used in Canadian homicides in 2006, only six (5 per cent) were registered. Of the 129 handguns used in Canadian homicides in 2005, only four (3 per cent) were registered.

Even this though makes it seem that the gun registration laws are much more valuable than they actually are. Here is the real question: how many of these crimes were committed by guns that were registered to the criminal? My bet: zero.

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Virginia Concealed Weapons Applications Rise by 60 Percent

WTOP reports:

RICHMOND, Va. - Doug and Cheryl Camden were raised around guns but agreed not to keep them in their house after they got married and began raising five children of their own.

Then violent crime began to dominate daily news reports. Several businesses near their Chester restaurant were robbed, home invasions seemed to increase and the world just seemed to be getting much more dangerous.

"It's to the point where you can't walk through the park without getting attacked," Doug Camden said Friday.

So the Camdens are following the path taken by a sharply increasing number of Virginians: They're applying for concealed weapons permits so they can begin carrying a gun for self-protection.

Virginia Supreme Court statistics show that nearly 44,000 people applied for permits in 2007, an increase of more than 60 percent over the previous year. Applicants don't have to state a reason for seeking a permit. . . .

Thanks to Janet Fallon for pointing this story out to me.


Philadelphia Ignores State Law, Passes Five New Gun Laws

The Philadelphia Inquirer notes:

The five laws - called everything from unconstitutional to criminal by critics - do the following:

Limit handgun purchases to one a month.

Require lost or stolen firearms to be reported to police within 24 hours.

Prohibit individuals under protection-from-abuse orders from possessing guns if ordered by the court.

Allow removal of firearms from "persons posing a risk of imminent personal injury" to themselves or others.

Outlaw the possession and sale of certain assault weapons.

Nutter said he would begin to enforce the laws immediately, with the exception of the one-gun-a-month requirement, which takes effect in six months.

He and Council are in for a fight, however. The city has tried and failed for three decades to buck the 1974 state law that reserves gun regulation to the state legislature. The state's preeminence appeared to be cemented in a 1996 Supreme Court ruling that allowed the legislature to prevent Philadelphia and Pittsburgh from enacting local gun laws. . . . .

One question: Can Nutter or anyone else point to one single study by economists or criminologists that show that any of these gun control laws reduce crime? Just one single study?