Evidence on DC Voucher Program

The Washington Post has this:

A U.S. Education Department study released yesterday found that District students who were given vouchers to attend private schools outperformed public school peers on reading tests, findings likely to reignite debate over the fate of the controversial program. . . . .

A copy of the study is here. The previous year's study is here.

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Another gun-free zones: Binghamton "13 Shot Dead During a Class on Citizenship"

Yet again look how incredibly long it took for someone with a gun to arrive on the scene here.  It is stunning that the attack "lasted up to three hours."  From the New York Times:
A gunman invaded an immigration services center in downtown Binghamton, N.Y., during citizenship classes on Friday and shot 13 people to death and critically wounded 4 others before killing himself in a paroxysm of violence that turned a quiet civic setting into scenes of carnage and chaos. 
The killing began around 10:30 a.m. and was over in minutes, witnesses said, but the ordeal lasted up to three hours for those trapped inside the American Civic Association as heavily armed police officers, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers threw up a cordon of firepower outside and waited in a silence of uncertainty. 
Finally, officers who had not fired a shot closed in and found a sprawl of bodies in a classroom, 37 terrified survivors cowering in closets and a boiler room and, in an office, the dead gunman, identified as Jiverly Wong, 42, a Vietnamese immigrant who lived in nearby Johnson City. . . .

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NPR's and Attorney General Eric Holder's amazing distortions on Mexico Crime Guns Coming from US

I have previously linked to this Fox News story: "The Myth of 90 Percent: Only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S.."

Here is the way that NPR covered the issue:


"This is Morning Edition from NPR News. Good morning — I'm Renee Montaign and I'm Steve Inskeep.

"Americans may be concerned about illegal drugs coming from Mexico to the United States, but Mexicans are concerned about a bit of trade the other way.

"A related bit of trade. Weapons in this country are going to Mexico where they are used by drug cartels battling for control of turf.

"Homeland Security Secretary Janet Nepolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder are wrapping up a trip to Mexico this morning and discussing illegal weapons trafficking.

"NPR's Jason Beauvean reports."


"Mexico has extremely strict gun ownership laws. Yet the nation's drug cartels have being amassing huge arsenals by buying up weapons in US gun shops, and then smuggling them south."

"During a raid on a stash house in Renoso last year, Mexican police seized almost 300 assault rifles, more than 100 pistols, a dozen submachine guns and a half a million rounds of ammunition."

"An American reporter asked Attorney General Holder about the Fox news report challenging the statistic that 90% of the guns used in Mexico's drug war come from the US."

"Holder responded: 'It almost doesn't matter if it's 60%, 70% or 90% the reality is that too many guns are flowing from the United States into Mexico.' "

"The Attorney General said the weapons, particularly the high-powered assault rifles are making it difficult for the Mexican police and military to confront the drug gangs. 'We will take responsibility for what is happening and do what we can on our side of the border to stop that flow of guns.'"

"Last week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was here, saying that the US needs to take responsibility for its "insatiable demand for narcotics."

"Homeland Security Secretary Nepolitano on this trip said the US will spend $400 million to upgrade and improve screening for weapons and other contraband at the border."

"In Mexico there's wide-spread indignation that AK-47s, M16s and other military style firearms can be purchased legally just across the Rio Grande."

"Nepolitano was asked if the Obama administration would push for an assault weapons ban. 'We intend to go forward and believe we can go forward with the laws that we have. We're not going to wait for Congress to act or not act. Ah — but ah — the sense of emergency is with us now. So we will go with what we've got.' "

Somebody tell me how NPR could do this story without once mentioning the Fox News finding that the number was 17 percent, not 90 percent. Somebody tell me how Holder could make his "It almost doesn't matter if it's 60%, 70% or 90% the reality is that too many guns are flowing from the United States into Mexico" claim and not be challenged by the reporter.

Thanks very much to Brian O'Connor for the link and the transcript.

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Higher estimates of TARP's cost to taxpayers

The Wall Street Journal has this:

The Congressional Budget Office has quietly altered its estimate of the ultimate cost to taxpayers of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, now figuring the initiative will be much more expensive in the long run than it previously figured.

Some TARP outlays eventually will be returned to the government as banks return capital the Treasury has invested in them or as the government sells loans or securities it acquires as part of the financial rescue.

In January, the CBO pegged the ultimate cost to taxpayers of the $700 billion TARP at $189 billion. When the agency issued revised numbers in late March, it revised that to $356 billion, a change that drew little attention. The larger estimate reflects, among other things, the Treasury's move to use the TARP to help avoid foreclosures, as well as the changing details of its aid to American International Group Inc., and the deterioration of financial conditions and of banks in which the Treasury has invested TARP money. . . . .


Appearing on Coast-to-Coast AM Tonight at 10 PM PDT/1 AM EDT

I will be on Coast-to-Coast AM for a couple of minutes tonight talking about the attack in Binghamton, NY. The show starts at about 10 PM PDT/1 AM EDT and there is a news segment at the beginning of the show. I will be on during that news segment.

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Another shooting in a another gun free zone: Binghamton, NY

Here is a piece that I have up at Fox News:

Time after time multiple- victim public shootings occur in “gun free zones” — public places where citizens are not legally able to carry guns. The horrible attack today in Binghamton, New York is no different. Every multiple-victim public shooting that I have studied, where more than three people have been killed, has taken place where guns are banned.

You would think that it would be an important part of the news stories for a simple reason: Gun-free zones are a magnet for these attacks. Extensive discussions of these attacks can be found here and here. We want to keep people safe, but the problem is that it is the law-abiding good citizens, not the criminals, who obey these laws. We end up disarming the potential victims and not the criminals. Rather than making places safe for victims, we unintentionally make them safe for the criminal.

At some point, you would think the media would notice that something is going on here, that these murderers aren’t just picking their targets at random. And this pattern isn’t really too surprising. Most people understand that guns deter criminals. . . . .

Police try their best and thank goodness they are available, but as often happens in these cases, it took a very long time for police to respond. It is disappointing though that the police chief can't give a more precise number on how long it took for them to respond.

The chief defended the time it took officers to go into the building — an hour to 90 minutes.

Six new anti-gun bills will be heard in NY this next week.

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And who do you think is fanning the flames for the pitchforks?

Politico has this amazing hubris from Obama.

The bankers struggled to make themselves clear to the president of the United States.

Arrayed around a long mahogany table in the White House state dining room last week, the CEOs of the most powerful financial institutions in the world offered several explanations for paying high salaries to their employees — and, by extension, to themselves.

“These are complicated companies,” one CEO said. Offered another: “We’re competing for talent on an international market.”

But President Barack Obama wasn’t in a mood to hear them out. He stopped the conversation and offered a blunt reminder of the public’s reaction to such explanations. “Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn’t buying that.”

“My administration,” the president added, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” . . .

Of course, the Obama people think some high salaries are OK.

Lawrence Summers, a top economic adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama, was paid about $5.2 million in compensation by hedge fund D.E. Shaw during the past year, according to financial disclosure forms released on Friday by the White House. . . .

The New York Times reports that Summers worked a grand total of one day a week for $5.2 million.

The Washington Post points out that Obama's economic advisors were paid handsomely WHILE they were advising Obama.

Some of President Obama's top economic advisers were paid, in some cases handsomely, for their commentaries in 2008 about tax policy, government bailouts of financial institutions, global trade and the economic recession, according to financial disclosure forms made public by the White House late Friday. . . .

Summers did not join the Obama team in an official capacity until after the November election, but he was an influential adviser to the candidate during the campaign as the economic collapse moved to the forefront . . . . .

Judge Andrew Napolitano has a very disturbing report here:

The FDIC — with Treasury backing — threatened to conduct public audits of his bank unless his board created and issued a class of stock for the Feds to buy. The audit, which he is confident his bank would survive, would cost it millions in employee time, bad press, and consequent lost business. . . . .

Now Obama refuses to let the banks repay the money that they were forced to take:

I must be naive. I really thought the administration would welcome the return of bank bailout money. Some $340 million in TARP cash flowed back this week from four small banks in Louisiana, New York, Indiana and California. This isn't much when we routinely talk in trillions, but clearly that money has not been wasted or otherwise sunk down Wall Street's black hole. So why no cheering as the cash comes back?

My answer: The government wants to control the banks, just as it now controls GM and Chrysler, and will surely control the health industry in the not-too-distant future. Keeping them TARP-stuffed is the key to control. And for this intensely political president, mere influence is not enough. The White House wants to tell 'em what to do. Control. Direct. Command. . . . .

Of course, Geithner is talking about the ability to fire bank executives.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he’s prepared to oust executives and directors at banks that require “exceptional” assistance from the U.S. government.

“If in the future, banks need exceptional assistance in order to get through this, then we will make sure that assistance comes,” while ensuring taxpayers are protected, Geithner said yesterday in an interview on the CBS “Face the Nation” program. “Where that requires a change in management and the board, then we will do that.”

Geithner noted that American International Group Inc., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had their chief executives removed after it became clear the companies couldn’t survive without government rescues. The Treasury is reviewing how much capital the biggest U.S. financial companies need in order to endure a severe economic downturn.

“Where we’ve had to do exceptional things,” the government has replaced management and boards, Geithner said. . . . .

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Pressure on Apple to pull certain politically incorrect games in the UK for the iPhone

The Apple Blog has this story:

It seems that some new iPhone games in the App Store have the British anti-gun lobby’s knickers in a knot.

Macworld UK’s Nick Spence says reports in British newspapers claim the series of iPhone and iPod touch apps developed by the French firm Damabia, such as Boom!BOOM! Shotgun Pro, Boom!BOOM! Shotgun Free, Bang!BANG!, Bang!BANG! OG Edition and Tak!TAK!, are glamorizing “gun culture,” particularly among young people, and have caused “outrage among anti-gun campaigners.”

Claudia Webbe, chair of an independent advisory group for the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Trident gun-crime force, is quoted commenting, “I am stunned this game should ever have been allowed to have been made. We have spent years trying to get imitation guns out of shops and this sort of product undermines that effort.”

The always-strident anti-gun lobby is demanding that Apple pull the Damabia apps, which are either free or sell for 99 cents and are rated 9+ in the App Store for “Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes” and “Infrequent/Mild Realistic Violence.” . . .

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Obama uses polls to pick language used to sell programs

Back to the polling of the Clinton administration? From the Politico:

As President Barack Obama works to sell the American people on a sweeping agenda of domestic spending and policy changes, he’s relying on three men who have gone through neither Senate confirmation nor cable news spin cycles.

Data from pollsters Joel Benenson and Paul Harstad has become increasingly important to shaping the White House’s message as the crucial battle over the president’s budget intensifies.

“The pace [of polling] is picking up,” said one source familiar with the data.

In addition, David Binder, a San Francisco-based focus group expert, also has been traveling the country taking the national temperature on issues like energy and health care, others close to the White House said.

Presidents have long pooh-poohed polls while privately conducting them. Jimmy Carter had Patrick Caddell, Reagan had Dick Wirthlin, and Bill Clinton relied on Mark Penn for weekly, personal briefings on the numbers.

George W. Bush, reacting against Clinton’s perceived reliance on polls, sharply cut back the practice, according to spending tallies. His main pollster was the no-profile Jan van Lohuizen, but Karl Rove still conducted six major surveys a year, a senior Bush White House staffer said, and employed an aide to pore over the growing pile of publicly available data. . . . .

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Latest Microsoft commercial gets busted


Miscarriage of justice in Senator Stevens' Case

The Washington Times has this note about Stevens' case:

The Justice Department admitted Wednesday that its career prosecutors acted improperly in the prosecution that drove Senator Ted Stevens from office last fall. Indeed, the trail was was so tainted that we can't independently assess the verdict against Mr. Stevens, but one thing is clear: Federal prosecutors are guilty of misconduct that cost Republicans a Senate seat.

The original corruption charges filed against the senator on July 29, 2008 alleged that Bill Allen, an Anchorage construction contractor, added an extra storey to the Stevens family chalet and under-charged the powerful politician for the work. At trial, the government claimed that the improvements cost $250,000; Mr. Stevens apparently paid $130,000. The Justice Department now acknowledges that Mr. Allen told the government on April 15, 2008 that the improvements cost Mr. Allen only $80,000. This information was not turned over to Mr. Stevens' defense team until last week. Now his lawyers now claim that Mr. Allen, the prosecution's key witness, "was subsequently 'pushed' to provide the false 'bombshell' testimony favorable to the prosecution."

"Stevens was not informed prior to or during trial" about information "that could have been used by the defendant to cross-examine" the prosecution's main witness, according to a Justice Department court filing. Prosecutors also used evidence they now admit they knew was fabricated.

After the trial ended and information of misconduct surfaced, the Justice Department replaced the prosecutors on the trial team as well as top-ranking officials in the Public Integrity Section. The prosecutors are being investigated by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility.Judge Emmet Sullivan repeatedly delayed sentencing, faulting prosecutors for what he called prosecutorial misconduct and citing them for contempt. The judge will hear a request to dismiss the case against Mr. Stevens on April 7th.

The timing of the case itself was suspect. With the exception of extraordinary circumstances, the Justice Department generally avoids indictments that are so close to elections that they could affect the outcome. Mr. Stevens' indictment came just weeks before the Republican primary, and the trial ended just a few days before the general election. Mr. Stevens lost to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich by 1.2 percent. Absent the criminal charges, Mr. Stevens surely would have won reelection. . . . .

Palin and Alaska Republicans have this to add:

Gov. Sarah Palin and the head of the Alaska Republican Party said Thursday that Sen. Mark Begich should give his Senate seat up to a special election now that prosecutors have abandoned their case against Ted Stevens.

"Alaskans deserve to have a fair election not tainted by some announcement that one of the candidates was convicted fairly of seven felonies, when in fact it wasn't a fair conviction," Palin said in a Thursday interview with the Daily News. . . . .

Begich fired back Thursday, saying that although he believed it was clear there was misconduct during the senator's trial, he stepped into the race "long before Senator Stevens' legal troubles began, because Alaskans were looking for a change and a senator as independent as Alaska.

"Today, with our country in a severe recession, it's more important than ever that we have a senator focused on fixing our economy so Alaskans have the jobs they need to support their families," he said. "That is my job in the Senate, and I'm honored to serve Alaskans for the next six years." . . . .

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"The Myth of 90 Percent: Only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S."

My son Maxim has this piece over at Fox News with William La Jeunesse.

You've heard this shocking "fact" before -- on TV and radio, in newspapers, on the Internet and from the highest politicians in the land: 90 percent of the weapons used to commit crimes in Mexico come from the United States.

-- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it to reporters on a flight to Mexico City.

-- CBS newsman Bob Schieffer referred to it while interviewing President Obama.

-- California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said at a Senate hearing: "It is unacceptable to have 90 percent of the guns that are picked up in Mexico and used to shoot judges, police officers and mayors ... come from the United States."

-- William Hoover, assistant director for field operations at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified in the House of Representatives that "there is more than enough evidence to indicate that over 90 percent of the firearms that have either been recovered in, or interdicted in transport to Mexico, originated from various sources within the United States."

There's just one problem with the 90 percent "statistic" and it's a big one:

It's just not true. . . . .

"Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market," Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told FOX News.

The key point is in bold.

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80 percent of DC prisoners to be released from prison early?

From the Washington Times:

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty wants to help balance the District's recession-squeezed budget by allowing as many as 80 percent of the city's inmates to qualify for early release, borrowing a tactic that has stirred controversy elsewhere in the nation.

The city hopes to save $4.4 million in fiscal 2010 under the plan, which would reduce the prison population by 2 percent from its current daily average of 3,000 inmates. . . .

This seems like one sure way to increase crime in DC.

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Obama to name the GM Board of Directors

Just remember that Obama isn't going to actually going to be running the company, he is just going to name the people who will be running the company.

The Obama administration will play a key role in reshaping General Motors' board of directors over the next six months, potentially giving it even greater control in the management of the storied American manufacturer.

The president's auto task force plans to consult with the company as it replaces a majority of its board, a White House official said. The board today largely consists of the current and former chiefs of major U.S. corporations such as Coca-Cola, Ernst & Young, Pfizer and Eastman Kodak. It is not known which of the 12 board members will leave.

The president said Monday that "the United States government has no interest in running GM." But in practice it is already exerting tremendous influence over it, a situation that has triggered fierce debate over how much power the government should wield over the companies that it aids. . . . .

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27 Illegal Immigrants, Sends Them Back to Work

Fox News has this:

The Department of Homeland Security freed 27 illegal immigrants arrested during a workplace raid in February and offered them legal work permits, signaling a major departure from the immigration enforcement policy of the Bush administration.

The Feb. 24 raid of an auto parts plant in Bellingham, Wash., netted 28 illegal immigrants. While one was deported, the remaining workers were released from custody and given employment authorization documents, or EADs, in exchange for cooperating with an ongoing investigation of their employer, Yamato Engine Specialists. . . . .

The irony is that this will actually make illegals worse off because employers will not want to hire them to begin with. I have an in depth discussion of this in Freedomnomics.

Some politicians are calling on enforcement to stop for immigration laws before the census.

Some lawmakers are calling anew for the U.S. to relax its immigration laws -- not to provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants, but to ensure statistical accuracy.

The calls come as the Census Bureau prepares to kick off the 2010 Census. Critics argue that unless the government is willing to relax immigration laws, millions of people -- afraid to their share their personal information -- will be left out of the count.

U.S. Rep. William Clay, D-Mo., who chairs a House oversight subcommittee on the Census, said he plans to ask the Obama administration to suspend immigration raids over the next year.

He wants the raids put on hold so illegal immigrants don't worry that sharing accurate information with Census workers could somehow expose them to punishment, even deportation. . . .


Another broken Obama promise

Even the AP points this out here:

WASHINGTON (AP) - One of President Barack Obama's campaign pledges on taxes went up in puffs of smoke Wednesday.
The largest increase in tobacco taxes took effect despite Obama's promise not to raise taxes of any kind on families earning under $250,000 or individuals under $200,000.

This is one tax that disproportionately affects the poor, who are more likely to smoke than the rich.

To be sure, Obama's tax promises in last year's campaign were most often made in the context of income taxes. Not always.

"I can make a firm pledge," he said in Dover, N.H., on Sept. 12. "Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

He repeatedly vowed "you will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime."

Now in office, Obama, who stopped smoking but has admitted he slips now and then, signed a law raising the tobacco tax nearly 62 cents on a pack of cigarettes, to $1.01. Other tobacco products saw similarly steep increases. . . . .

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9 People accounted for 2,678 emergency room visits over 6 years

Here is an unintended consequence of government mandates on care. It is pretty hard to see these numbers and not believe that people have easy access to medical care.

In the past six years, eight people from Austin and one from Luling racked up 2,678 emergency room visits in Central Texas, costing hospitals, taxpayers and others $3 million, according to a report from a nonprofit made up of hospitals and other providers that care for the uninsured and low-income Central Texans.

One of the nine spent more than a third of last year in the ER: 145 days. That same patient totaled 554 ER visits from 2003 through 2008. . . . .


$2.98 Trillion Spent on Bailouts, Treasury fights transparency

Possibly hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money lost to fraud.

A special inspector general overseeing government efforts to bail out portions of the private sector said Tuesday the U.S. so far has committed nearly $2.98 trillion toward stabilizing financial companies and rescuing domestic auto makers.

Meanwhile, only $109.5 billion remains in a $700 billion program that was launched as a way to remove toxic assets from bank balance sheets, Neil Barofsky told lawmakers. Mr. Barofsky has come to be known as the "TARP cop" because his office is responsible for policing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.

His estimates match that given by the Government Accountability Office, which also oversees the program, but differ from the $134.5 billion remaining-funds estimate that the Treasury Department gave over the weekend.

At a Senate Finance Committee hearing Tuesday, Mr. Barofsky attributed the discrepancy between the figures to Treasury's expectation that TARP recipients will return $25 billion in funds to the program. But because regulators must approve the return of funds, it isn't clear just how much will flow back into the TARP.

The $2.98 trillion figure given by Mr. Barofsky reflects spending on the TARP as well as funding for certain programs from the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It doesn't include costs for working-capital loans to General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC or a new government auto-warranty-guarantee program unveiled Monday. . . .

Such a large commitment of funds in such a short time "will inevitably attract those seeking to profit criminally," Mr. Barofsky said. "If, by percentage terms, some of the estimates of fraud in recent government programs apply to the TARP programs, we are looking at the potential exposure of hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money lost to fraud," he told lawmakers. . . .

The fight over transparency is here:

Barofsky had a simple message: The government should require any bank receiving taxpayer dollars to explain how it is spending the money.

The official, Neel Kashkari, disagreed. So Barofsky, the special inspector general for the program, said his office would do it instead.

"I don't think Treasury's done enough," he said. . . .

This is also relevant: Bill To Increase TARP Oversight Stalls In Congress.

Bloomberg has this:

The U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have spent, lent or committed $12.8 trillion, an amount that approaches the value of everything produced in the country last year, to stem the longest recession since the 1930s.

New pledges from the Fed, the Treasury Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. include $1 trillion for the Public-Private Investment Program, designed to help investors buy distressed loans and other assets from U.S. banks. The money works out to $42,105 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. and 14 times the $899.8 billion of currency in circulation. The nation’s gross domestic product was $14.2 trillion in 2008. . . .

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New Op-ed at Fox News: Obama's Driving the Car Now

The piece starts off this way:

In a truly unprecedented move, the Obama administration has gotten into hand picking the CEO of a private company. This has never happened in US history. It is also something that doesn't seem to have occurred in leftist Europe at least since World War II.

Obama claimed Monday that he has "no interest or intention" of running the auto industry. But, whatever Obama's rhetoric, it is now his industry. Picking CEOs is just the surface. In Obama's speech he boasted that "my team will be working closely with GM to produce a better business plan," but who is Obama kidding? These are not suggestions, these are orders. When Obama claims that he is "absolutely committed . . . to meet one goal . . . building the next generation of clean cars," his top down industrial policy doesn't care that hybrid sales have fallen by two-thirds since April, much faster than overall car sales.

Obama is even micromanaging Chrysler's merger talks with Fiat -- for example, determining what Fiat engines will be built in the United States. . . . .

I wish that I had seen this when I was writing the piece. Of course, Obama has "no interest or intention" of running the auto industry.
Obama Orders Chevrolet and Dodge Out Of NASCAR - Car News

Or that I had seen this:

RUSH: Let's go to the audio sound bites because CNN decided to do an in-depth expose last night to find out if anybody on the Obama auto team has any experience in the automobile business. They talked to Austan Goolsbee, one of these economic advisors, one of these Ivy League egghead members of the Obama administration, and Blitzer's question was this: "Okay, you have 21 members in your auto industry task force. None of them have any real auto industry experience. Five of them are cabinet secretaries. Nearly half of your members hold economic posts. Seven have ties to energy and the environment. Even the Treasury's senior advisor on auto issues, Ron Bloom, has no direct auto industry background. One member of the auto industry task force is joining us now, Austan Goolsbee. Is that fair that none of you has any real direct auto industry experience?"

GOOLSBEE: I don't think it's fair. I believe that Ron Bloom does have a significant amount of auto experience and that is within the government task force. The other thing that I'd say is the president made clear in his remarks, the US government is not trying to get into the business of running an automobile company.


GOOLSBEE: The intention here is to create the conditions that will be a bridge allowing these companies to restructure and become viable enterprises again --

BLITZER: Do you know...?

GOOLSBEE: -- in the future.

BLITZER: Do you know off the top of your head what Ron Bloom's auto experience industry was?

GOOLSBEE: Umm... I... No, I don't know exact-- I believe that it was, uhhh, advising the unions and in working in the auto industry, but I'm (pause) not an auto executive so I... That's not my area.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to double-check that.

RUSH: Way to go, Wolf. Way to be on the case out there, baby. The original premise is fine. There's nobody on this task force has the slightest idea how to build a car. There's nobody on this task force that loves cars. There's nobody on this task force that is a car guy. They're all a bunch of brainiac eggheads, and they're over there to assert control. So Blitzer then says, "Well, look, has the White House been involved in the compensation package of Rick Wagoner, GM?"

GOOLSBEE: I don't know the details on that.

BLITZER: Would that be something logical, though? Would that be -- given the enormous amount of taxpayer money going into GM?

GOOLSBEE: Uh, I'm not going to speculate on those matters. I don't know anything about it.

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Good editorial on gun law debate in Virginia

The Washington Times has this:

When Tim Kaine campaigned for Virginia governor in 2005, he ran an ad implying that former National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston was praising him. His campaign claimed that "Tim Kaine strongly supports the Second Amendment." Once he won office, Mr. Kaine vetoed one gun bill after another that would have helped Virginians protect themselves from criminals.

Unfortunately, this past week, Mr. "strong Second Amendment supporter" Kaine vetoed all five pro-self-defense bills sent to his desk. His intransigence endangers public safety. Hopefully, the General Assembly's veto-override session, which starts today, can correct those mistakes.

All five vetoed bills passed with overwhelming bipartisan support - indeed, all but one bill got at least two-thirds support in both the Senate and the House. The governor knows he can be easily overriden. Showing how out-of-touch he is on this issue, Mr. Kaine vetoed some bills that even passed unanimously. So overrides seem likely unless Mr. Kaine can flip enough Democrats to sustain his vetoes.

Take Mr. Kaine's veto of the bill that would let retired law enforcement officers carry their guns in restaurants that serve alcohol. . . . .

Kaine was able to get enough Democrats to flip on two of these five bills to keep his vetoes from being overridden. On a fifth bill, supporters were just short of enough to overr

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Debate over gun free zones on college campuses heats up in Texas

The news article is here:

(AP)AUSTIN, Texas—John Woods sometimes sits in a classroom at the University of Texas and wonders what would happen if somebody walked in and started shooting.

It’s the kind of scenario he’s imagined since April 2007, when he was a student at Virginia Tech and his girlfriend and several other people he knew were gunned down in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

There were times when Woods thought to himself that maybe he should get a gun.

“Then I learned pretty fast that wouldn’t solve anything,” said Woods, who is now a graduate student at UT. “The idea that somebody could stop a school shooting with a gun is impossible. It’s reactive, not preventative.”

Today, Woods is among the leaders in a fight against bills in the Texas Legislature that would allow licensed concealed gun carriers to bring their weapons to school.

The House version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Driver, a Garland Republican, is scheduled for a public hearing Monday in the Public Safety Committee. . . . .

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Ignoring the sanctity of contract seems like a regular thing with Obama

How can I be surprised by this?

General Motors' bondholders need to make sacrifices to lay the groundwork for a restructuring of the company that would avoid bankruptcy, a senior White House adviser said on Tuesday.

"We've been facing this dynamic with the bondholders in which they've been holding out on some things on the presumption that, well, maybe the government will just keep bailing us out whenever we run out of money," Austan Goolsbee, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told CNBC television. "That's just not going to happen. They're going to have to make some sacrifices."

"If they're wanting to play chicken that seems like a bad idea," said Goolsbee, a member of the administration's taskforce on auto restructuring. . . . .


Concealed Handgun Permit Numbers in Oklahoma

22 percent of Oklahoma permit holders are women. The Pryor Daily Times has this data.

Concealed carry licensing is becoming more popular with Oklahoma residents.

According to reports from Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), 8,799 self defense act licenses were approved in 2002. Five years later, OSBI issued 18,510 permits in 2008. Females licensed in the state last year numbered 4,237, while 14,273 men obtained their permits.

The bureau issued 16,426 permits in 2007, 9,591 in 2006 and 10,450 in 2005. . . .

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Readings in Applied Microeconomics

Craig Newmark has put together what looks like an interesting collection of economics readings.

A central concern of economics is how society allocates its resources. Modern economies rely on two institutions to allocate: markets and governments. But how much of the allocating should be performed by markets and how much by governments? This collection of readings will help students appreciate the power of the market. It supplements theoretical explanations of how markets work with concrete examples, addresses questions about whether markets actually work well and offers evidence that supposed “market failures” are not as serious as claimed.




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Another shooting in a gun-free zone: Seven killed at Pinelake Health and Rehab Nursing Home in Carthage, NC

From WRAL:
A lone gunman burst into a North Carolina nursing home Sunday morning and started "shooting everything," barging into the rooms of terrified patients, sparing some from his rampage without explanation while killing seven residents and a nurse caring for them. 
Authorities said Robert Stewart also wounded three others, including the Carthage police officer who confronted him in a hallway of Pinelake Health and Rehab and stopped the brutal attack. 
"He acted in nothing short of a heroic way today, and but for his actions, we certainly could have had a worse tragedy," said Moore County District Attorney Maureen Krueger. "We had an officer, a well-trained officer, who performed his job the way he was supposed to and prevented this from getting even worse than it is now." . . .
UPDATE: A call to the Pinelake Health and Rehab Nursing Home in Carthage, NC on April 5th indicated that guns were not allowed in the facility (910-947-5155).  I was assured that they had not been allowed before the attack.  Bernard Bryant is the current administrator.

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A history of police with guns in New Orleans

Police carried guns for the same reason all law-abiding citizens do -- for protection.

When New Orleans police officer Alexander Algeo prepared to walk his beat on Magazine Street the night of March 17, 1856, the only pieces of department-issued equipment he could take with him were a crescent-shaped badge and a brass crank that made rattling noises.

He couldn't pack a revolver. A mayoral order barred him and all other officers from carrying arms while patrolling the streets. The order hewed to a state law, passed in 1813, prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons by Louisiana residents, although New Orleans police widely ignored the law until Mayor John L. Lewis handed down a directive.

The deadly risks that the city's officers faced during the 1850s became impossible for citizens and elected leaders to ignore when Algeo was shot in the head that March night, during a volatile political meeting, as he walked his beat. He died nine days later, 153 years ago last week. . . . .

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And the government is competent in judging these things?

The government forces out GM's CEO. Why not stay out of the way completely? Why get involved in determining the company's CEO?

The administration's auto team announced the departure of Mr. Wagoner on Sunday. In a summary of its findings, the task force added that it doesn't believe Chrysler is viable as a stand-alone company, and suggested that the best chance for success for both GM and Chrysler "may well require utilizing the bankruptcy code in a quick and surgical way."

The move also indicates that the Treasury Department intends to wade more deeply than most observers expected into the affairs of the country's largest and oldest car company. . . . .



George Will on whether the "Stimulus" package is unconstitutional

Will's piece at the Washington Post is available here.

It is high time Americans heard an argument that might turn a vague national uneasiness into a vivid awareness of something going very wrong. The argument is that the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) is unconstitutional.

By enacting it, Congress did not in any meaningful sense make a law. Rather, it made executive branch officials into legislators. Congress said to the executive branch, in effect: "Here is $700 billion. You say you will use some of it to buy up banks' 'troubled assets.' But if you prefer to do anything else with the money -- even, say, subsidize automobile companies -- well, whatever."

FreedomWorks, a Washington-based libertarian advocacy organization, argues that EESA violates "the nondelegation doctrine." Although the text does not spell it out, the Constitution's logic and structure -- particularly the separation of powers -- imply limits on the size and kind of discretion that Congress may confer on the executive branch.

The Vesting Clause of Article I says, "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in" Congress. All. Therefore, none shall be vested elsewhere. Gary Lawson of Boston University's School of Law suggests a thought experiment:

Suppose Congress passes the Goodness and Niceness Act. Section 1 outlaws all transactions involving, no matter how tangentially, interstate commerce that do not promote goodness and niceness. Section 2 says that the president shall define the statute's meaning with regulations that define and promote goodness and niceness and specify penalties for violations.

Surely this would be incompatible with the Vesting Clause. . . . .

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"Prosecutors drop charge against man who had shootout with cop": Self defense against cop

I don't bring this up to be critical of police, as anyone who has read my research knows how important I think that they are. Still this is a pretty amazing self defense case from the Austin-American Statesman:

Travis County prosecutors on Friday dismissed the case against David Lozano, who lost his leg in a late-night shootout with an Austin police officer at Lozano's Northeast Austin house in 2007.
"We believe that Mr. Lozano maintained a reasonable belief that on that day and time he was defending himself, his wife and his property," Travis County Assistant District Attorney Steven Brand said.
The dismissal came after a series of expert witnesses for the state and defense cast doubt on whether officer Roger Boudreau told the truth about the confrontation, according to lawyers in the case.
"Had it not been a police officer, this case would have been dismissed a long time ago," said Lozano's lawyer, Ryan Deck. "A police officer changed everything."
Lozano, 48, spent 13 months in jail before he was released on bail last year. . . . .
Lozano and his wife, Rosemary, were having marital problems leading up to the incident on March 11, 2007, according to Deck and a police affidavit.
That night, a man with whom Rosemary Lozano had had an affair threatened David Lozano in a phone conversation, Deck said. Then that man, Miguel Salazar, called police and reported a domestic disturbance at the Lozano home, Deck said.
Next, according to both Boudreau's account as detailed in the police affidavit and Lozano's account as told by Deck, Boudreau knocked on the door, heard someone chamber a round into a gun through the door and moved off the porch.
Lozano thought it was Salazar knocking and intentionally made the sound with the gun to scare him, Deck said. After Lozano looked through the peephole and saw nobody, he opened the door, Deck said.
Boudreau never identified himself as a police officer during the incident, according to Deck and the affidavit.
What happened after the door opened was in dispute.
Lozano said that Boudreau fired two shots in front of the house; Boudreau said Lozano fired first, according to the police affidavit. . . . .
Deck said that further analysis by his expert witness found that Boudreau fired the first five shots. In recent weeks, he said, Brand told him that state experts had independently determined that Boudreau fired at least the first three shots, prompting prosecutors to abandon the case.
Deck said he doesn't think it was an innocent mistake by Boudreau, but that Boudreau intentionally lied about who fired the first shots. . . . .

Thanks very much to Rich for this link.


UN climate change regulations viewed by UN as way to massively redistribute wealth and jobs around world

Fox News has this story here:

A United Nations document on "climate change" that will be distributed to a major environmental conclave next week envisions a huge reordering of the world economy, likely involving trillions of dollars in wealth transfer, millions of job losses and gains, new taxes, industrial relocations, new tariffs and subsidies, and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes — all under the supervision of the world body.

Those and other results are blandly discussed in a discretely worded United Nations "information note" on potential consequences of the measures that industrialized countries will likely have to take to implement the Copenhagen Accord, the successor to the Kyoto Treaty, after it is negotiated and signed by December 2009. The Obama administration has said it supports the treaty process if, in the words of a U.S. State Department spokesman, it can come up with an "effective framework" for dealing with global warming.

The 16-page note, obtained by FOX News, will be distributed to participants at a mammoth negotiating session that starts on March 29 in Bonn, Germany, the first of three sessions intended to hammer out the actual commitments involved in the new deal. . . . .

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Chinese engaged in massive theft of information from government and private computers

From the New York Times.

A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.

In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.

The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software, or malware.

Their sleuthing opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than two years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York. . . . .

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Those not so long lasting compact fluorescent bulbs

The New York Times has this interesting note on the problems with those compact fluorescent bulbs that were supposed to last for so long.

But a lot of people these days are finding the new compact fluorescent bulbs anything but simple. Consumers who are trying them say they sometimes fail to work, or wear out early. At best, people discover that using the bulbs requires learning a long list of dos and don’ts.

Take the case of Karen Zuercher and her husband, in San Francisco. Inspired by watching the movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” they decided to swap out nearly every incandescent bulb in their home for energy-saving compact fluorescents. Instead of having a satisfying green moment, however, they wound up coping with a mess.

“Here’s my sad collection of bulbs that didn’t work,” Ms. Zuercher said the other day as she pulled a cardboard box containing defunct bulbs from her laundry shelf.

One of the 16 Feit Electric bulbs the Zuerchers bought at Costco did not work at all, they said, and three others died within hours. The bulbs were supposed to burn for 10,000 hours, meaning they should have lasted for years in normal use. “It’s irritating,” Ms. Zuercher said.

Irritation seems to be rising as more consumers try compact fluorescent bulbs, which now occupy 11 percent of the nation’s eligible sockets, with 330 million bulbs sold every year. Consumers are posting vociferous complaints on the Internet after trying the bulbs and finding them lacking. . . . .

I loved this part:

Experts say the quality problems are compounded by poor package instructions. Using the bulbs incorrectly, like screwing low-end bulbs into fixtures where heat is prone to build up, can greatly shorten their lives. . . . .

So these people supposedly can save money if they just redo their lightbulb sockets.