Remember what a big deal that Obama made about no bid contracts under Bush?

So what about Obama's frequent campaign promise to get rid of no bid contracts?

As a candidate for president in 2008, then-Sen. Obama frequently derided the Bush administration for the awarding of federal contracts without competitive bidding.

"I will finally end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all," the senator told a Grand Rapids audience on Oct. 2. "The days of sweetheart deals for Halliburton will be over when I'm in the White House."

Those remarks echoed an earlier occasion, during a candidates' debate in Austin, Texas on Feb. 21, when Obama vowed to upgrade the government's online databases listing federal contracts. "If [the American people] see a bridge to nowhere being built, they know where it's going and who sponsored it," he said to audience laughter, "and if they see a no-bid contract going to Halliburton, they can check that out too."

Less than two months after his inauguration, President Obama signed a memorandum that he claimed would "dramatically reform the way we do business on contracts across the entire government."

Flanked by aides and lawmakers at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building on March 4, Obama vowed to "end unnecessary no-bid and cost-plus contracts," adding: "In some cases, contracts are awarded without competition....And that's completely unacceptable." The March 4 memorandum directed the Office of Management and Budget to "maximize the use of full and open competition" in the awarding of federal contracts. . . .

Now it turns out that Halliburton was just awarded a $568 million contract.

KBR Inc. was selected for a no-bid contract worth as much as $568 million through 2011 for military support services in Iraq, the Army said.
The Army announced its decision yesterday only hours after the Justice Department said it will pursue a lawsuit accusing the Houston-based company of taking kickbacks from two subcontractors on Iraq-related work. The Army also awarded the work to KBR over objections from members of Congress, who have pushed the Pentagon to seek bids for further logistics contracts.
The Justice Department said the government will join a suit filed by whistleblowers alleging that two freight-forwarding firms gave KBR transportation department employees kickbacks in the form of meals, drinks, sports tickets and golf outings.
“Defense contractors cannot take advantage of the ongoing war effort by accepting unlawful kickbacks,” Assistant Attorney General Tony West said in a statement.
KBR, the Army’s largest contractor in Iraq, will review the litigation when it is received and “will continue to cooperate with the government,” company spokeswoman Heather Browne said in an e-mail. “Gifts of dinners, baseball tickets and similar items would violate KBR policies and KBR was not aware of these violations.”
KBR will continue to provide services in Iraq such as housing, meals, laundry, showers, water purification and bathroom cleaning under the new order, which was placed under a military contract KBR won in late 2001, shortly after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. . . .

The promise was already frequently broken:

The recent awarding of a lucrative federal contract to a company owned by a financial contributor to the Obama presidential campaign -- without competitive bidding -- "violated" President Obama's many campaign pledges to crack down on the practice, a top State Department official told Fox News.

Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley, familiar to many Americans from his erudite delivery of the State Department's daily press briefings, made the admission in a telephone interview Saturday night.

Reminded of Obama's many pledges during the 2008 campaign to crack down on the use of no-bid contracts, and of the memorandum the president signed last March instructing the Office of Management and Budget to curb the practice, Crowley said: "You make a valid point. If you want to say this violates the basis on which this administration came into office and campaigned, fair enough."

The contract in question, worth more than $24.6 million, was awarded on Jan. 4 by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to Checchi and Company Consulting, a Washington, D.C.-based firm owned by economist and Democratic Party donor Vincent Checchi. The deal called for Checchi's firm to train lawyers and judges in Afghanistan and thereby strengthen the "rule of law" in the war-torn country. . . .

It turned out later that the company getting the contract was a big Dem Donor.

The contract, awarded on Jan. 4 to Checchi & Company Consulting, Inc., a Washington-based firm owned by economist and Democratic donor Vincent V. Checchi, will pay the firm $24,673,427 to provide "rule of law stabilization services" in war-torn Afghanistan. . . .


"41 percent of births were to unmarried women in 2008"

Given everything that we know about how much more difficult it is for women to raise children on their own, this is depressing news. There are many reasons for this, but I have argued in the past that a significant portion of this is due to the liberalization of abortion rules.

New mothers in the U.S. are increasingly older and better educated than they were two decades ago, according to a study on the state of American motherhood released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.

But that doesn't mean women are waiting for the right moment: The study also found that half of mothers surveyed said parenthood "just happened."

While most women giving birth are doing it within the context of marriage, researchers said a record 41 percent of births were to unmarried women in 2008. That's up from 28 percent in 1990, according to the study, "The New Demography of American Motherhood." The trend crossed major racial and ethnic groups.

Nearly 14 percent of mothers of newborns were 35 or older two years ago - and only about 10 percent were in their teens. The age trend was reversed in 1990, when teens had a 13 percent share of births.

"I think everyone will welcome a decline in births to teens," said D'Vera Cohn, a senior writer on the study. "It's notable that the population of teens is larger than it used to be, so there were more who could have become teen mothers."

Today, one in seven babies is born to a mother at least 35 years old. In 1990, one in 11 had a mother in that age group.

Most mothers of newborns (54 percent) had at least some college education in 2008, an increase from 41 percent in 1990. Among mothers 35 or older, 71 percent had at least some college education.

Improvements in medical care and fertility treatment, along with marriage and childbearing postponed to seek additional education, all factor into the shifts.

"The rise in women's education levels has changed the profile of the typical mother of a newborn baby," the report said. Cohn added that a lower share of mothers ended their education after high school, "so some of those mothers who would have been high school graduates in 1990 have some college education today."

The report is based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau, along with a telephone survey in April 2009 of about 1,000 parents, likely parents and other adults of both genders.

Overall, there were 4.3 million births in the U.S. in 2008, compared with 4.2 million in 1990. The number had risen each year from 2003 to 2007, then dipped in an apparent link to the economic downturn, the researchers said.

When American parents are asked why they decided to have a child, most cite "The joy of having children," the study said. For nearly half of parents, though, an important explanation is: "It wasn't a decision; it just happened." . . .

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Arizona Removing its speed cameras

Will liberals applaud getting rid of these spying cameras? This program was something that Janet Napolitano instigated.

it seems that revenues from Arizona's speed cameras were rather lower than were perhaps expected, when they were instituted by Janet Napolitano, now Homeland Security secretary. While the cameras triggered tickets to be sent to anyone going 11 mph or more over the speed limit, the illegal indigents had their own method of replying: they didn't.
It seems that so many tickets remained unpaid (only a reported 30 percent were ever paid) that initial estimates of $90 million in revenue weren't exactly realistic.
And then there were the people who, according to the Arizona Republic, decided that Post-it notes, Silly String, and even pickaxes were the finest way to deal with such an invasion of their private car time, which may have included attempts to flee the state.
Arizona's use of speed cameras, supplied by Australian manufacturer Redflex Holdings (PDF), was reportedly the most widespread in the United States. Some believe they improved road safety, but I know that many will sympathize with the words of Shaun Dow, a leading supporter of a November ballot initiative to ban the use of photographic enforcement anywhere in the state. . . .


Obama keeps promises only when they are convenient

When the Obama administration wants someone who would violate their campaign promises they dump the promise.

When Bob Bauer replaced Greg Craig last year as White House counsel, it seemed inevitable that he’d be working on some of the same issues he had in his previous job as President Barack Obama’s personal and campaign lawyer.

So late Friday afternoon, in recognition of that reality, the White House issued Bauer a waiver to ethics rules established by Obama that prohibit officials in his administration from working on issues affecting their former clients for two years.

Those rules would have prevented Bauer “from performing roles that someone in the Counsel’s position ordinarily performs” and, therefore, neither “make sense” nor are they “in the public interest,” wrote White House ethics lawyer Norm Eisen in a post on the White House blog. . . .

Perkins Coie – which paid Bauer $959,000 in 2009 and still owes him $216,000 – continues to represent Obama’s presidential campaign, as well as the Obama family and the DNC. In the latter two capacities, the firm is involved in helping Obama fill out his personal financial disclosure statement, which is due next week, and in fighting a lawsuit filed by the Republican National Committee seeking to overturn laws prohibiting huge “soft money” donations to political parties.

Bauer is expected to advise the White House on those matters, and a White House official pointed out that in both cases Bauer’s private work is consistent with Obama’s stances in favor of disclosure and reducing the influence of special interest money in politics. . . .

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Tiny UK Independence Party cost Conservatives at least 10 seats in close General Election

The perfect is many times the enemy of the good. While the UKIP picked up just three percent of the vote in the UK's general election on Thursday, that 3 percent appears almost certainly to have cost the Conservatives a chance to form a government without relying on the Lib Dems. Instead of 307 seats in parliament, the Tories would have had at least 317 of the 326 needed to govern the country. The presences of the UKIP cost noted EU skeptic Tory MP David Heathcoat-Amory his seat in Wells. Many labor ministers would have gone down to defeat if the UKIP hadn't run its candidates.

The tiny UK Independence Party helped deprive the Conservatives of at least ten seats by fielding candidates in constituencies the Tories had a good chance of winning.
Nationally, UKIP picked up just 3 per cent of the vote. But in a string of seats their support was enough to stop even Eurosceptic Tory candidates winning.
In the most glaring example, the anti-EU party helped oust the fiercely Eurosceptic David Heathcoat-Amory in Wells, Somerset.
UKIP picked up 1,711 votes as the Tory MP lost to the Liberal Democrats by 800.
UKIP also helped to prop up a number of Labour ministers, including Schools Secretary Ed Balls, Communities Secretary John Denham, immigration minister Phil Woolas and local government minister Ian Austin.
In each case the ministers would have lost their seats if the bulk of UKIP's support had gone to the Conservative candidate.
Mr Austin, a close ally of Gordon Brown, held Dudley North with a majority of just 649 over the Conservatives, while UKIP picked up 3,267 votes. . . .

To put it differently, 16,000 votes stood between the Conservatives and a majority.

DAVID CAMERON was deprived of a Commons majority by failing to secure the votes of just 16,000 people, according to an expert analysis of election results.

The findings by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher reveal that the Tories came tantalisingly close to securing a clean victory at the polls.

“Cameron came so near and yet so far,” write the directors of the elections centre at Plymouth University. “Just 16,000 extra votes for the Tories, distributed in the 19 constituencies in which the party came closest to winning, would have spared us a weekend of negotiation and speculation.” . . . .


NY Times points to Times Square BOMBER as reason for more government regulation of guns?

From the NY Times piece:

Congress, for example, is cowering before the gun lobby insistence that even terrorist suspects who are placed on the “no-fly list” must not be denied the right to buy and bear arms. Suspects on that list purchased more than 1,100 weapons in the last six years, but Congress has never summoned the gumption to stop this trade in the name of public safety and political sanity. . . .

1) The list is hardly the final word on even keeping people from flying. Plenty of people on the list ended up flying. For example, former Senator Ted Kennedy was on the “no-fly list.” Yet, he was obviously finally approved to fly. Nor should everyone on the list be thought of as a danger to own a gun. Here is an amusing discussion of the list from 60 minutes:

60 Minutes certainly didn’t expect to find the names of 14 of the 19 9/11 hijackers on the list since they have been dead for five years. 60 Minutes also found a number of high profile people who aren’t likely to turn up at an airline ticket counter any time soon, like convicted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, now serving a life sentence in Colorado, and Saddam Hussein, who at the time was on trial for his life in Baghdad.

One person who was not surprised is former FBI agent Jack Cloonan, who was retiring from the bureau’s al Qaeda task force just as the list was being put together.

"I did see Osama bin Laden on the list both with an "O" in the first name and a "U" in the second name. I was glad to see that. But, some of the other names that I see here, you know, I just have to scratch my head and say, 'My good, look what we've created,'" Cloonan says.

Intended to be a serious a serious intelligence document, Cloonan says the No Fly List soon became a "cover your rear end" document designed to protect bureaucrats and make the public feel more secure. . . .

2) I assume that there are possibly a million names on the list so 1,100 "weapons" over six years might sound big, but it actually seems like a pretty small number to me. Plus, I don't believe that one could really stop a determined terrorist from getting a gun. All that you would do is stop the law-abiding ones on the list from getting a gun.

More from the NY Times:
If Capitol supporters of the National Rifle Association agenda dared to check reality outside their windows they would confront the district’s alarm over the four dead and five wounded citizens who fell six weeks ago in a spray of bullets from a semiautomatic weapon. Instead, the gun lobby aims at allowing residents to buy weapons and ammunition in lightly policed markets in Virginia and Maryland.

Maryland is a lightly regulated state regarding guns? People in DC were safer as a result of the gun ban? See the new edition of More Guns, Less Crime for a discussion of DC's murder rates after the ban was enacted. Do they understand that gun free zones make these areas more attractive to criminals?

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Congressman Barney Frank on the Housing Market

It will be interesting to see how Rep. Frank walks his way back from this.

Some of the quotes from Barney Frank. On regulatory reform:

“You will see far less difference with Democrats taking over in the Financial Services regulatory area than in virtually any other area of public policy, because we did work together on things like regulatory relief and we have more to do yet in the deregulation. One of the things we did was try to reduce the reporting requirements from the banks to the financial detectives. Far too much has to be reported now in my judgment.”

On Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:

“We weren’t doing anything for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The issue for me was housing. We were doing something for housing. And I agreed with those who argued that because of the markets’ perceptions, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac got this great benefit to be able to borrow money cheaply yet the benefit was not being adequately returned to the public.

“There were two things you could have done about that. You could have reduced the benefit. You could have cut back on their ability to borrow as cheaply or you could leave that benefit in place and distribute it more fairly. That’s what we chose to do with the affordable housing fund.”

On the housing bubble in 2006, two years before the housing bubble burst:

“I do want to address this thing about the bubble. I think the bubble is an entirely inappropriate metaphor. Let me just be very clear, houses ain’t tulips. Houses today even with the drop in housing prices are more valuable than tulips were however many years ago when we had the tulip business.”

On plummeting housing prices:

“I think it’s a good thing that housing prices are dropping. A few speculators get stung, that’s icing on the cake. The cake is… the cake is that people can afford to buy houses now. A 10% drop in housing prices is a good thing. Housing was over-valued.

“But let me make this distinction on why it’s not a bubble. I was just thinking about this [unintelligible]… maybe housing suffered from irrational exuberance. But bubbles in history haven’t been cases of irrational exuberance. They have been cases of exuberant irrationality. And there really is a distinction.

“Irrational exuberance means you get a little carried away with something that is basically a good thing. But exuberant irrationality is when you start thinking that tulips or some of those dumb ideas on the internet when there were some of those things that nobody in their right mind wanted to buy, those were excessive.”

On why housing prices going down:

“Fundamentally I don’t think that there’s a crisis, and I do think that the end result in a 10% drop in many parts of the country will be a more rational and healthier housing market.”

And finally… Frank on his own ability to deal with “things.”

“I’m pretty good with words but I’m not so good with things. I’ve had a lifelong struggle with things. And the less I am responsible dealing with them the better off everybody is.”

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Even a majority of Democrats think that the Obama administration should wait before opposing new Arizona immigration law

Here are the results of a new Fox News poll.

Significantly more voters think the Obama administration should wait and see how the new law works (64 percent) than think the administration should try to stop it (15 percent).

To varying degrees, majorities of Democrats (52 percent), Republicans (77 percent) and independents (68 percent) think the White House should see how the law works.

The Arizona law makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally and requires immigrants to have proof of their immigration status. Police officers can ask for that proof of anyone they reasonably suspect is an illegal immigrant. . . .

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Democrats push for government to get private privacy information on people

So much for Democrat claims that they care so much about privacy.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), senior Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, said that provisions in the new financial regulatory bill violate privacy rights by allowing the government to collect any financial information it wants from any financial institution it wants.

Shelby, speaking at a press conference outlining Republican concerns about the financial regulatory overhaul, said that the bill violated Americans’ privacy rights by allowing the government to collect any financial information from any financial firm.

“I’m sure the ACLU – because we’ve heard from them – and others are looking at this very closely. I believe that it violates a lot of people’s privacy,” Shelby said.

Shelby added that Republicans would offer amendments that would attempt to “surgically strike” such objectionable provisions.

Republicans’ privacy concerns stem from the new information-gathering authorities the bill would give to the federal government, allowing it collect any information, including records from Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) and the addresses of depositors, from any financial institution at any time. . . .

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New Fox News piece: Creepy Claims Made By Dems About Arizona Immigration Law Are False

My newest Fox News piece starts this way:

On April 28, while speaking in Iowa, President Obama denounced Republicans who "exploited” the immigration issue “for political purposes." President said Arizona’s new immigration law would "undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans." He painted an alarming picture: "local officials are allowed to ask somebody who they have a suspicion might be an illegal immigrant for their papers. But you can imagine, if you are an Hispanic-American in Arizona -- your great-grandparents may have been there before Arizona was even a state. But now, suddenly, if you don't have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you're going to be harassed."

Pretty scary rhetoric. And President Obama isn't alone in making these claims. Take some of the statements on the Sunday morning talk shows this past weekend:

When asked by David Gregory on NBC's "Meet the Press" if the Arizona law involved "racial profiling," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton replied: "I don't think there's any doubt about that because, clearly, as I understand the way the law is being explained, if you're a legal resident, you still have to carry papers." Similarly, on ABC's "This Week," Obama's Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned: "Unfortunately, I think it does and can invite racial profiling."

Not to be outdone, Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) alleged on New York City's WPIX: "That is outrageous for a governor and a state to support something that a local policeman will determine by sight whether a person is illegal. . . . a governor of one of our fifty states and the legislature has passed something that is racist in nature, that jeopardizes the lives Americans." He claimed that local police will arrest people simply based on the color of their skin: "they will enforce the federal illegal immigration laws by allowing local police men to take a look and determine whether they are illegal and arrest them. And I would think that you would agree with me that they are talking about people of color. Now I think that is outrageous." . . .

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Poll on banning college students and other adults from carrying concealed handguns on campus

The poll is available at the bottom of the column on the right here. From the Colorado Springs Gazette:

The dangerous new gun ban at Colorado State University is gone, thanks to a wise decision by the university’s board of governor’s Wednesday to rescind it.

Gun bans remain at most other campuses in Colorado for now, including the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said he will undermine the UCCS gun ban until it goes away.

“Nobody’s coming into my jail on that charge,” Maketa told The Gazette’s editorial department. “I will not cooperate with that in any way because in my view it’s not a legitimate and arrestable offense.” . . .

Campus gun bans get students killed because killers don’t obey them. It’s hard to know how the Virginia Tech massacre might have been different if all law-abiding adults hadn’t been disarmed. We know that psychopath Seung-Hui Cho disobeyed the gun ban and killed 33 students over a span of nearly three hours without resistance because nobody within sight or earshot of the carnage was armed.

Soon all campus gun bans will be gone in Colorado. Someday society may look back with disbelief regarding rules that made sitting ducks of young adults on campus.

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The Bank Regulation Bill: Will it let unions take over businesses?

It looks like the government theft of GM and Chrysler assets to give to unions was only the start. Now Democrats want to have the SEC determine who will stand for election to the board of directors? Is this serious?

For years, Democratic-backed labor unions have been trying to get behind enemy lines, so to speak, by helping to put more union-friendly representatives on corporate boards as a way to shape policies from the inside.

Now, they’ve got a surprising new weapon to help them in that effort: the Wall Street reform bill.

Buried deep in the Democrats’ Senate bill are two major changes to how board members are elected — both designed to crack open the insular world of corporate boardrooms and make them more responsive to shareholders.

Union officials have long argued that the current system of electing corporate boards is stacked against them — resulting in rubber-stamp elections of corporate-blessed candidates and unaccountable directors. Businesses say unions are trying to run opposition candidates on the company dime and oust incumbents without having to run a challenger.

But when Democrats set out to reform Wall Street, they also included a few provisions that benefit their allies in the labor movement, along with provisions on reining in “too big to fail” banks and exotic investments.

One provision would essentially give the Securities and Exchange Commission the power to force the names of outside nominees onto the corporate ballot. Right now, corporations can print up the ballots — and leave off the other names.

Such a change could give large, long-term investors — such as the pension funds that fund union members’ retirements — a better shot to get elected to the boards.

The other change would require directors running in an uncontested election to win a majority of votes cast. Currently, most directors need to win only a plurality, which has resulted in directors losing the majority vote but still winning the seat.

Labor representatives say the fixes would lead to more-responsive boards and better-run companies and give unions a victory they have pursued for years.

“The current director election process is not working in the interest of shareholders. Over the past 10 years, stock market investors have seen the value of stocks decline,” the AFL-CIO’s Brandon Rees said. “We need to reform how boards are selected and make the process more democratic so long-term investors can have their voices heard rather than just incumbent directors and executives.”

Critics argue the push is little more than a move by Democrats to reward their friends in organized labor. . . .


Silly surveys on who is the more aggressive driver?

To me the bottom line is that the insurance premium is higher for boys than girls. What may be aggressive driving to girls might not be considered aggressive driving by boys. I am not certain about what to make of these surveys. It seems to me that the bottom line in terms of safety is what counts.

In a survey of teenage drivers, Allstate Insurance Co. found that 48% of girls said they are likely to drive 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. By comparison, 36% of the boys admitted to speeding. Of the girls, 16% characterized their own driving as aggressive, up from 9% in 2005. And just over half of the girls said they are likely to drive while talking on a phone or texting, compared to 38% of the boys. . . .

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"Freddie Mac Seeks $10.6 Billion More From Treasury"

An the congress really wants people to believe that it won't bail out companies in the future? So look at Freddie asking for more money.

Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac (FRE) said Wednesday it needs more taxpayer funds after posting a $6.69 billion loss in Q1. The latest request will push total government aid to Freddie and sister firm Fannie Mae (FNM), both under gov’t conservatorship, to $136.5 billion.
Freddie said it expects to ask for more taxpayer funds as the red ink continues to flow. And why not? The Treasury late last year essentially wrote the two quasi-public firms a blank check for future losses.
Freddie and Fannie helped finance the massive explosion of subprime home loans. Because of their implicit (now explicit) government guarantees, they expanded and leveraged far beyond what truly private firms could get away with.
Rep. Barney Frank declared in 2003 he was willing to “roll the dice,” dismissing fears that Freddie and Fannie could suffer major losses and destabilize credit markets. Even after those Cassandras turned out to be right, Frank and his colleagues continue to ignore the problem: Democrats’ sweeping financial overhaul bills somehow fail to address Fannie or Fannie at all.

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New Book Review in the Washington Times by Roger Lott: Miron's "LIBERTARIANISM FROM A TO Z"

Roger's review can be found here.

In "Libertarianism From A to Z," Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron wastes no time. In roughly 200 short pages, he explains and advocates libertarian points of view on more than 100 issues, from agricultural subsidies to organ sales and government funding of zoos. The encyclopedic organization combined with Mr. Miron's concise and straightforward writing style make for a condensed yet highly accessible read.

Mr. Miron calls himself a "consequentialist libertarian," distinguishing himself from "philosophical libertarians." He considers the costs and benefits of individual government policies rather than simply making broad arguments against them on the basis of natural rights. However, the inclusion of some statistics would help give precision to his assertions.

Each topic is begun with a layout of the major arguments for government involvement, which are, for the most part, not watered down. Mr. Miron's fair presentation of reasons for opposing viewpoints ultimately makes his case for libertarianism more convincing.

According to Mr. Miron, many of these arguments are based on the belief that government should subsidize activities that generate positive externalities (indirect benefits) for society, such as education, and tax those that create negative ones, such as pollution. Government subsidizes recycling, for instance, on the basis that it decreases water contamination, reduces pollution, prevents exhaustion of natural resources and preserves space for landfills. . . .

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New Washington Times piece


ABC News asks how much the Obama administration was paying attention to Oil Spill

Jake Tapper has the discussion here.

Though his agency was charged with coordinating the federal response to the major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Department of the Interior chief of staff Tom Strickland was in the Grand Canyon with his wife last week participating in activities that included white-water rafting, ABC News has learned.

Other leaders of the Interior Department were focused on the Gulf, joined by other agencies and literally thousands of other employees. But Strickland’s participation in a trip that administration officials insisted was “work-focused” raised eyebrows among other Obama administration officials and even within even his own department, sources told ABC News.

Strickland, who also serves as Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, was in the Grand Canyon with his wife Beth for a total of three days, including one day of rafting. Beth Strickland paid her own way, Obama administration officials said. . . .


Colorado State University backs down on concealed carry ban

After just voting for a ban a few months ago, Colorado State University has backed down on the ban.

Guns will continue to be legal on the Colorado State University System's two campuses.
The CSU Board of Governors voted Wednesday to rescind a campus gun ban, citing a Colorado Court of Appeals ruling last month that overturned a similar ban at the University of Colorado.

The appeals court sided with Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, which argued the CU policy violated the Colorado Concealed Carry Act.

The CSU board had approved the ban for its campuses in Fort Collins and Pueblo in February. It was to take effect in August.

After the ruling against CU, SCCC and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Association filed a complaint against CSU in Larimer County District Court, saying the CU ruling clears the way to overturn campus weapons bans, including CSU's policy.

"Clearly CSU did not have a leg to stand on, and they saw a lawsuit that gave them absolutely no choice," said Dudley Brown, director of the RMGO.

Brady Allen, a senior studying history at CSU and an outspoken opponent of the CSU weapons ban said, "I think they finally realized it would be a waste of student's money to fight it in court."

A judge had previously thrown out the CU case in May 2009, saying he found nothing in the state constitution that would prohibit a campus gun ban. . . .

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The Obama administration is really going to mess up the opportunities for interns

Requiring that you can only have unpaid interns if the interns do not produce any immediate benefit to the company. Who wants to do an internship where what you do isn't going to be used while you are working there? And if the intern has to be paid, what do you think is going to happen to the number of internships?


Man facing armed robber defends himself with permitted concealed handgun

The St. Louis Post Dispatch has an article on an attack that occurred in Hazelwood, Missouri.

Holdup victim kills robber along Dunn Road
By Kim Bell

UPDATED, 11:55 a.m. Wednesday
A man who was robbed at gunpoint in Hazelwood on Tuesday night fought back and shot the robber to death, police say.

The victim of the holdup pulled his own gun and fatally shot the robber at about 8:40 p.m. Tuesday on a street in Hazelwood.

The shooting happened in the 3700 block of Dunn Road, near Cortena Drive.

A man in his 50s told police he had been walking along Dunn Road when another man came up to him, put a gun to his chest and demanded money. The robbery victim handed over his wallet.

As the robber stood there, rifling through the wallet, the man who'd been robbed shot the robber to death. He died at the scene. The robber was a man about 20 years old, said Capt. Gregg Hall of the Hazelwood Police Department. . . .

At this point, Hall said, police have no reason to doubt the account provided by the robbery victim. . . .

UPDATE: Here is the final verdict.

Wolf said the evidence supports the explanation of a 57-year-old man from the area that he fired Tuesday night after Holland took his wallet at gunpoint and was rifling through it. The robbery victim was not hurt. His name was not disclosed.

"Unluckily, I guess, the deceased picked on the wrong person," the chief suggested. "When we found him, he was laying on the ground with the gun in his hands and his finger on the trigger." . . .

Thanks to Anthony Troglio for the links.

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Bloomberg worried that the person who tried to blame Time Square bombing on someone upset with government health care takeover

Did Katie Couric object to this? No. Note that while Tea Party people haven't gotten arrested once in all their demonstrations and the anti-Arizona rallies have produced all sorts of arrest, the media and certain politicians have a story line that they want to push against conservatives.

With Katie Couric drawing him out, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed the Times Square car bombing was likely “homegrown” as he proceeded, in an interview excerpt run on Monday's CBS Evening News, to speculate it could have been placed by “somebody with a political agenda who doesn't like the health care bill or something" ... the first thing Bloomberg thinks of are those who don't like ObamaCare, presumably conservatives or Tea Party activists. . . .

But it turns out:

Appearing in person in the Justice Department briefing room at 1:30 a.m., Attorney General Eric Holder said the suspect, a Pakistan-born American named Faisal Shahzad, 30, was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport while attempting to board a flight for Dubai.


He is Muslim of Pakistani heritage with dual citizenship in the United States, a registered Democrat in the state of Connecticut who may be an Obama donor. He was recently naturalized as a U.S. citizen under the Obama administration’s lenient open door policy." . . .

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New Washington Times piece


Dinner and Talk in Chicago on May 27th from 5:30 to 8 PM

The presentation will be on the new third edition of More Guns, Less Crime on May 27th from 5:30 to 8 PM at Petterino’s restaurant, 150 North Dearborn, Chicago.

Appellate Court Judge Robert Stigman to moderate
an attorney in the Illinois solicitor general’s office to offer a counter view

The talk will be sponsored by the Chicago Federalist society, the Heartland Institute, and the Lincoln Legal Foundation.

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"Six Reasons Why the Capital Gains Tax Should Be Abolished"


Obama administration waited a week before following planned response to oil spill

One would think that this would get more attention.

If U.S. officials had followed up on a 1994 response plan for a major Gulf oil spill, it is possible that the spill could have been kept under control and far from land. . . .

A single fire boom being towed by two boats can burn up to 1,800 barrels of oil an hour, Bohleber said. That translates to 75,000 gallons an hour, raising the possibility that the spill could have been contained at the accident scene 100 miles from shore.

"They said this was the tool of last resort. No, this is absolutely the asset of first use. Get in there and start burning oil before the spill gets out of hand," Bohleber said. "If they had six or seven of these systems in place when this happened and got out there and started burning, it would have significantly lessened the amount of oil that got loose."

In the days after the rig sank, U.S Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said the government had all the assets it needed. She did not discuss why officials waited more than a week to conduct a test burn. . . .

Companies to some extent depend on these promises of government to act. If the government fails to honor its promised actions, it then must bear the appropriate responsibility. If you make companies liable and make them responsible for cleaning things up, I bet that things would have worked out better. As it turns out there is a cap on damages from the spill at $75 million, though that might be due to the fact that people aren't very careful in avoiding harm if the government will reward them 100 percent of claimed damages.

UPDATE: From the WSJ's Political Diary.

Ever since 1989 Exxon Valdez tragedy, the federal government has been required by law to keep spill-fighting equipment in place for an emergency. Ron Gouguet, who once led such efforts for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Press-Register that a quick controlled burn might have captured 95% of the oil spilling from the offshore well. In the event, it took federal officials eight days to conduct the first test burn of the leaking oil. By then, strong winds and rough seas inhibited its effectiveness.

Another factor may also have played a role in the failure to properly prepare. Certain environmental groups have long opposed the 1994 federal response plan for the Gulf region that called for burning any oil spill right away. Even Rear Admiral Mary Landry, the federal official coordinating the oil spill cleanup, told reporters last week that burning the oil meant a "black plume" of smoke that could effect birds and mammals. . . .

From Politico:

The ferocious oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is threatening President Barack Obama’s reputation for competence, just as surely as it endangers the Gulf ecosystem.

So White House aides are escalating their efforts to reassure Congress and the public in the face of a slow-motion catastrophe, even though it’s not clear they can bring it under control anytime soon.

“There is no good answer to this,” one senior administration official said. “There is no readily apparent solution besides one that could take three months. ... If it doesn’t show the impotence of the government, it shows the limits of the government.” . . .

So the administration is denying that there is anything that they could have done.

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A post gunfight interview: Walgreens shooting in Omaha, Nebraska

The interview is almost a half hour long, but it is quite interesting (available here).

From the Omaha World-Herald

Harry James McCullough took it personally. The former security guard was standing at a Walgreens checkout counter when he saw two masked men, one with a sawed-off shotgun, enter the store. Marquail Thomas, 18, pointed the shotgun at customers and yelled, “Nobody (expletive) move!''

“There's no doubt in my mind what they were going to do,” McCullough said Thursday. “There was no time to react. You only have one chance.”

McCullough pulled out a pistol and shot Thomas four times. Thomas collapsed outside the store and died later at a hospital.

McCullough chased down the second masked man, whom Omaha police have identified as Angelo Douglas, 17, and held him until officers arrived. Jauvier Perkins, 15, who police said was the getaway driver, was arrested Wednesday.
Prosecutors said all three are known gang members.

McCullough said he had no idea whom he was dealing with.

“I took it personal,” he said. “I was the only one in that situation that could have made it any better, so I took action.”

McCullough said he never expected something like this to happen at his neighborhood drugstore, which he visits at least once a month to pick up a prescription for migraine headaches.

“I didn't have time to be scared,” he said. “It happened so quickly. You have to swell up and be bigger than your surroundings. If you portray yourself as big as a bear, you are a bear.” . . .

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Apple violating anti-trust laws?

The NY Post reports that the Obama administration is looking into punishing one of our more spectacular business success stories: Apple.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are locked in negotiations over which of the watchdogs will begin an antitrust inquiry into Apple's new policy of requiring software developers who devise applications for devices such as the iPhone and iPad to use only Apple's programming tools.
Regulators, this person said, are days away from making a decision about which agency will launch the inquiry. It will focus on whether the policy, which took effect last month, kills competition by forcing programmers to choose between developing apps that can run only on Apple gizmos or come up with apps that are platform neutral, and can be used on a variety of operating systems, such as those from rivals Google, Microsoft and Research In Motion. . . .

A friend of mine has this discussion about Apple here when he anticipated that the government would start looking into these things.


How Israel screens for terrorists


"Should Major League Baseball pull the All-Star Game in 2011 from Arizona because of controversial legislation?"

A poll on this is up at Major League Baseball Daily Dish here.


Still blaming Chicago's higher murder on the lack of gun control

For some reason Mayor Daley isn't learning from his past mistakes. Will Mayor Daley notice that DC's murder rate fell by 25 percent after the Supreme Court struck down its handgun ban and gunlock requirement?

The homicide rate in Chicago has jumped in the past month, and the city is grappling with how best to respond.

At least two weekends in a row have been marred by multiple killings. For many Chicagoans, the breaking point was last Wednesday, when a 20-month-old girl was shot in the head while in a parked car on the South Side. The alleged gunman, who turned himself in, was reportedly aiming for the girl’s father.

As of last Sunday, Chicago tallied 113 homicides for 2010, compared with 101 for the same period last year.

The city’s mayor, state lawmakers, and the Chicago Police Department, among others, are weighing in on what should – and shouldn’t – be done.

On Sunday, state Reps. John Fritchey and LaShawn Ford, both Democrats, suggested that the National Guard should be dispatched to curb the recent rise in violence. They made the proposal to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D).

On Monday, both the governor and Richard M. Daley, Chicago’s mayor, dismissed the suggestion.

“The notion of trying to step in, in any way ... on the toes of people who are on the front line every day fighting crime in tough neighborhoods, I think is really not the way to go,” Governor Quinn said.

Mayor Daley argued that the National Guard does not have the appropriate resources and skills to fight street gangs.

Instead the solution, Daley says, is to continue pressing state and federal courts to tighten restrictions on gun ownership – and to uphold the city’s ban on handguns and assault weapons.

“This is all about guns, and that’s why the crusade is on,” he said at a press conference Monday. . . .

Thanks to Larry Cook for this link.

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On Obama distorting Arizona's Immigration Bill

Obama's race-baiting: Democrats use fear-mongering to radicalize the Hispanic vote

This hasn't stopped the administration from continuing to distort the law. From This Week:

TAPPER: And prospective Supreme Court nominee. You certainly have an opinion about whether or not this law is constitutional.

NAPOLITANO: Well, I will say they've already amended the law over the course of the week, and so even the Arizona legislature is starting to recognize there are problems with the law. Unfortunately, I think it does and can invite racial profiling. I think it's bad for law enforcement. I think it illustrates the need, as the president has said, for a bipartisan approach to comprehensive immigration reform, in this town. It's really a cry of frustration from Arizona.

I will say that more assets have been put into Arizona in the last 15 months than ever in history, and actually, the numbers, if you step back and look at it, the numbers actually are down in terms of apprehensions, which indicates fewer illegal crossings, but also up in terms of actual enforcement actions.

So the numbers actually are countered to what the action of the legislature is. But you know what? There's still a frustration out there. It's a frustration, ultimately, that will only be solved with comprehensive immigration reform.

From Meet the Press:

MR. GREGORY: Another area that has become a domestic political debate over immigration has also taken on some international ramifications. Mexico, because of the law, the stringent law against--anti-immigration law passed in Arizona has issued a pretty unusual alert...


MR. GREGORY: ...to its own citizens traveling to Arizona. I'll put it up on the screen. This is the alert, a travel alert over Arizona immigration law. This is how the USA Today reported it on Wednesday. "The country warned that the state's adoption of a strict immigration enforcement law has created `a negative political environment for migrant communities and for all Mexican visitors.'

"`It must be assumed that every Mexican citizen may be harassed and questioned without further cause at any time,' according to the foreign ministry." The president, President Calderon, with whom you'll meet soon has talked about criminalizing--"this law criminalizes a largely social and economic phenomenon of migration." This is a pretty big shot across the bow to America here.

SEC'Y CLINTON: Well, it is, and, and I think if you look at it, again, you have a lot of unanswered questions. This law, which is clearly a result of the frustration that people in Arizona and their elected officials feel about the difficulty of enforcing the law along our border and preventing the continued immigration, people who are not documented. But on the other hand, it is written so broadly that if you were visiting in Arizona and you had an accent and you were a citizen from, you know, my state, of New York, you could be subjected to the kind of inquiry that is call--that this law permits.

MR. GREGORY: You think it invites profiling, racial profiling?

SEC'Y CLINTON: I don't think there's any doubt about that because, clearly, as I understand the way the law is being explained, if you're a legal resident, you still have to carry papers. Well, how are--how is a law enforcement official supposed to know? So, again, we have to try to balance the very legitimate concerns that Americans--not just people in Arizona, but across the country--have about safe and secure borders, about trying to have comprehensive immigration reform, with a law that I think does what a state doesn't have the authority to do, try to impose their own immigration law that is really the province of the federal government.

Here is a copy of the original bill. Here is a link to the clarifications in the Arizona law mentioned above:

SB 1070: NOW: safe neighborhoods; immigration; law enforcement
· Changes “lawful contact” to “lawful stop, detention or arrest.”

· Stipulates that a lawful stop, detention or arrest must be in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state.

· Stipulates that a reasonable attempt must be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of a person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation when reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the U.S.

· Removes “solely” from the provision relating the prohibition on discriminatory enforcement.

· Stipulates that for the Enforcement of Immigration Law, Unlawfully Picking up Passengers for Work and Unlawfully Transporting or Harboring Unlawful Aliens the immigration status may be determined by:
Ø A law enforcement officer who is authorized by the federal government to verify or ascertain an alien’s immigration status.
Ø ICE or CBP pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1373(c).

· Specifies that 8 U.S.C § 1373 and 8 U.S.C § 1644 are included in the federal immigration laws relating to challenges regarding policies adopted or implemented by an entity.

· Stipulates that for the enforcement of Willful Failure to Complete or Carry an Alien Registration Document, Unlawfully Picking up Passengers for Work and Unlawfully Transporting or Harboring Unlawful Aliens a law enforcement official or agency cannot consider race, color or national origin when implementing these provisions, except as permitted by the U.S. or Arizona Constitution.

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The Washington Times defends corporate theft

I approvingly link to a lot of Washington Times pieces, but this one defends Gizmodo for paying $5,000 for the next version of the iPhone.

1) The police are trying to figure out whether Gizmodo purchased a product that they knew was not owned by the person who sold it. If the police can show this, a crime was committed. At this point, Apple can't control or stop the police investigation, just as a woman beaten by her husband can't stop that criminal investigation. We will have to see whether a law was violated, but we won't know without an investigation and If I had to bet, the odds seem very high that the law was violated.
2) This editorial implies that getting a leak about some government activity is the same as getting a leak about some corporate secret for a product that it is making. Do we really want to create a situation where people steal company secrets because they think that the media will pay them for those secrets? If someone broke into a company vault and took the iPhone, would that be acceptable? Even if it is true that "His intention was not industrial espionage," that is the impact that it has on Apple.
3) Apple may think that the review was good publicity, but the question is also when that publicity occurs. The company doesn't want others to know in advance what they are making. This is a highly competitive market and others have been copying Apple's efforts. Two months advance notice simply means that others can get their products out two month faster with those features.

From the NY Times:

Perhaps Gizmodo was involved in the felony theft of property when it paid $5,000 and published photos and videos of the device.

Why did Gizmodo think that the phone was worth $5,000? I assume that they would have been willing to pay even more for it.

Perhaps Jason Chen, the Gizmodo blogger who lost four computers and two servers to the police last week, is not protected by the California shield law intended to prevent the authorities from seizing journalists’ reporting materials without a subpoena (that matter is currently under consideration so the police and county attorneys have held off combing through the computers).

Should journalists be protected from committing crimes? If a reporter broke into an office and stole corporate secrets, would that be protected?

But those are a lot of assumptions, and regardless of how the law shakes out, the optics are horrible for Apple. Anybody with a kilobyte of common sense could have told Steve Jobs that the five minutes of pleasure that came from making a criminal complaint against journalists would be followed by much misery. . . .

Why is this so horrible? Apple and its shareholders have undoubtedly lost a lot of money. Apple's returns to developing new cutting edge products has been diminished. Is that good for consumers? Other companies will be able to start copying Apple's products earlier than they otherwise could have.

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TheStreet financial reporter Dan Freed on Goldman: "This is a political case"

This is a political case, right, and that is pretty clear. And Obama and some of the most powerful Democrats want Goldman to shut up and stop lobbying against their financial reform bill. So if Democrats get their financial reform bill, Goldman probably reaches a settlement and this thing goes away.

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Canadian Police Chief says that federal gun registry isn't stopping crime

This is an important acknowledgement, but I wish that he would explicitly acknowledge how few crimes have been solved by registration. From Canadian TV:

Police Chief Rick Hanson says it's time to review the federal gun registry, even though most of his colleagues support keeping it.

"The gun registry has done little to make the streets safer," said Police Chief Rick Hanson.

Calgary is known for its gang wars that have played out on city streets.

Shootouts have left a bloody trail of murder and violence.

The police gang unit says handguns are the weapon of choice for Calgary gangs.

But there has also been an increase in the use of heavier weapons like assault rifles, which can penetrate body armour and vehicles.

Chief Hanson is one of the first chiefs in the country to say publicly that the gun registry isn't working.

"For the years it's been in effect, there are more guns on the street today - handguns and prohibited weapons - than I can ever recall, and that's since the gun registry has been implemented," added Chief Hanson.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police support the registry.

They claim it's used 11-thousand times every single day.

But in Calgary, officers use the registry as an investigative tool and say it doesn't work when dealing with gangs and drug dealers.

Chief Hanson says the gun registry does nothing to reduce the level of violent crime and the use of guns by criminals on the street. He says it's not about politics, it's about safety.

"It's not helping. The guns these people have, they don't register, they don't care, they're probably stolen, they're probably obtained illegally, in many cases they're prohibited," commented Chief Hanson. . . .

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Iowa becomes right-to-carry state

The above figure is from the third edition of More Guns, Less Crime that is just about to be released by the University of Chicago Press. Concealed carry laws as of today:

36 states now have right-to-carry laws, 4 states don't require permits in all or virtually all of their state, eight states are may-issue states, and two states ban concealed handguns. Montana is the one state that is a little difficult to place in that you don't need a permit in about 99 percent of the state (only within certain city boundaries is a permit required). The above map doesn't include Montana correctly. If the Republican wins the gubernatorial race in Wisconsin, that state will become a right-to-carry state.

The big news this week is that Iowa (while it has always had a relatively liberal may issue law that essentially operated as a right-to-carry law in most of the state) officially becomes a right-to-carry state.

Culver signs gun permit legislation
Rod Boshart | Posted: Thursday, April 29, 2010
Quad City Times
DES MOINES — Gun-rights advocates cheered loudly Thursday as Gov. Chet Culver approved a standardized process for those seeking permits to carry a concealed weapon.
The new rules will apply equally in all 99 Iowa counties, beginning Jan. 1. . . .
Under Senate File 2379, county sheriffs would lose much of their discretion in denying concealed weapons permits — a change that prompted most members of the Iowa State Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association to oppose the measure.
“It’s a pretty significant public safety change,” said Susan Cameron, an association lobbyist. “For the most part, they don’t believe that they’re unjustly denying permits now, so they don’t think that will have a huge impact.”
Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington, one of five county sheriffs who attended the bill-signing ceremony, acknowledged the issue created some tension among his association members. But he said it was important to remove “a double standard” where some sheriffs were issuing permits while others were applying stricter standards and denying permits.
“We still have discretion. The only difference now is we have to put it in writing and they have an appeals process,” he said. “It takes a lot of the good-old-boy factor out of it. I think after a year has passed and there won’t be any problems, it will all be forgotten.” . . .
Under current law, sheriffs can issue or deny permits. There standards vary with some issuing permits to nearly everyone who applies and some denying nearly all applications. Nearly 35,000 Iowans have concealed carry permits, according to lawmakers. . . .

Iowa's new rules involve a significant increase in fees and training requirements.

REASONS FOR DENIAL: A sheriff can no longer deny a gun permit for any reason, or for no reason at all. The law says a permit can be denied only for specific reasons. They include: alcohol or drug addiction; felony conviction; any serious or aggravated misdemeanor conviction within the prior three years; any domestic violence conviction; documentation within the last two years of actions that leads the sheriff to believe a person is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently; past commitment to a mental institution; unlawful immigration status; dishonorable discharge for the military; being subject to a restraining order against harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner.

APPEALS: Currently, Iowans have to fight a sheriff's permit denial, suspension or revocation in district court. Under the new law, they can also appeal to an administrative law judge.

EXPIRATION: Permits, good for one year before this law, will be valid for five years.

FEES: The $10 fee for a permit will go up to $50, and the $5 renewal fee will be $25.

HANDGUNS: Sheriffs can no longer restrict a permit for a concealed weapon to a handgun only, or impose any other limits.

MAKE AND MODEL: Sheriffs can't require an applicant to identify the make, model and serial number of his or her gun on the permit. This issue is not addressed in current law.

PUBLIC RECORDS: Gun permit records are public now and will remain that way.

RECOGNITION: Out-of-state residents with valid permits in their home state can carry weapons in Iowa.

TRAINING: Required every five years.

I haven't looked at the website too carefully yet, but carryconcealed.net/legal/ seems to have useful information on different state right-to-carry laws.

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Pelosi tells Obama administration to stop criticizing Washington

As hard as it is to believe, the Obama administration thinks that they can campaign against Washington. After all, what could they have to do with what is happening in Washington these days? But apparently some Democrats are worried that since they control everything in town they could get some of the blame.

President Barack Obama’s Washington-bashing could boomerang on his own party in Congress if he’s not careful, House Democratic leaders warned White House senior adviser David Axelrod in a closed-door meeting Thursday.

The fear - raised by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, campaign chief Chris Van Hollen and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn - is that Democrats have more to lose if anti-Washington sentiment is not directed at one party or the other.

“If the president is going to go out and talk about how Washington’s broken, he’s got to include a strong contrast with congressional Republicans or else we’re going to get blamed for it,” one meeting participant said later.

But Axelrod gave no indication that he plans to alter the president’s course, sources told POLITICO. White House aides did not reply to requests for comment.. . . .

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Some perspective on the oil spill in the gulf

Not only do you get normal oil seepage in the oceans each year, but oil drilling actually reduces it by reducing the pressure in under sea deposits.

Environmental groups warn that offshore drilling opens the door to oil spills and litter that could mar pristine beaches in Florida and California. But oil companies claim they have improved their drilling technology to the point that the risk of offshore oil spills is nearly nil. A joint study by NASA and the Smithsonian Institution found that more oil seeps into the ocean naturally than from drilling accidents. According to the study, natural underwater oil deposits leak some 62 million gallons of oil a year into the ocean compared with 15 million gallons from offshore drilling. Offshore drilling is actually the smallest source of oil pollution in the oceans, while runoff -- from activities like car owners changing their own oil -- is the largest at 363 million gallons per year.

So how much is being spilled from the oil well right now.

Officials estimate 5,000 barrels of crude — or 200,000 gallons — are being spewed each day by the damaged offshore BP well.

(Minor aside: Note that there are 42 gallons in an oil barrel so that 200,000 gallons actually equals about 4,762 barrels.) Suppose that 5,000 barrels goes on for 90 days unabated. That would be 18 million gallons. That is about 29 percent of the amount that naturally leaks into the ocean and it is actually 20 percent more than normally leaks into the ocean each year from all offshore oil drilling. If you add natural and manmade sources together, this would account for about 23 percent of that total.

I am still looking for data on how many birds are killed from this spill, but they also die from other green energy.

A July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass, Calif., estimated that its turbines kill an average of 80 golden eagles per year. The study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, also estimated that about 10,000 birds—nearly all protected by the migratory bird act—are being whacked every year at Altamont.

Altamont's turbines, located about 30 miles east of Oakland, Calif., kill more than 100 times as many birds as Exxon's tanks, and they do so every year. But the Altamont Pass wind farm does not face the same threat of prosecution, even though the bird kills at Altamont have been repeatedly documented by biologists since the mid-1990s.

The number of birds killed by wind turbines is highly variable. And biologists believe Altamont, which uses older turbine technology, may be the worst example. But that said, the carnage there likely represents only a fraction of the number of birds killed by windmills. Michael Fry of the American Bird Conservancy estimates that U.S. wind turbines kill between 75,000 and 275,000 birds per year. Yet the Justice Department is not bringing cases against wind companies. . . .

Should clean up simply go natural?

A new Queen's University study shows that detergents used to clean up spills of diesel oil actually increase its toxicity to fish, making it more harmful.

"The detergents may be the best way to treat spills in the long term because the dispersed oil is diluted and degraded," says Biology professor Peter Hodson. "But in the short term, they increase the bioavailability and toxicity of the fuel to rainbow trout by 100-fold."
The detergents are oil dispersants that decrease the surface tension between oil and water, allowing floating oil to mix with water as tiny droplets. Dr. Hodson and his team found that dispersion reduces the potential impacts of oil on surface-dwelling animals, While this should enhance biodegradation, it also creates a larger reservoir of oil in the water column.
This increases the transfer of hydrocarbons from oil to water, Dr. Hodson explains. The hydrocarbons pass easily from water into tissues and are deadly to fish in the early stages of life. "This could seriously impair the health of fish populations, resulting in long-term reductions in economic returns to fisheries," he says.
The study is published in the journal, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. . . .

How much of a subsidy is needed for these green fuels?

For electricity generation, the EIA concludes that solar energy is subsidized to the tune of $24.34 per megawatt hour, wind $23.37 and "clean coal" $29.81. By contrast, normal coal receives 44 cents, natural gas a mere quarter, hydroelectric about 67 cents and nuclear power $1.59. . . .

But wind and solar have been on the subsidy take for years, and they still account for less than 1% of total net electricity generation. Would it make any difference if the federal subsidy for wind were $50 per megawatt hour, or even $100? Almost certainly not without a technological breakthrough.

By contrast, nuclear power provides 20% of U.S. base electricity production, yet it is subsidized about 15 times less than wind. We prefer an energy policy that lets markets determine which energy source dominates. But if you believe in subsidies, then nuclear power gets a lot more power for the buck than other "alternatives."

The same study also looked at federal subsidies for non-electrical energy production, such as for fuel. It found that ethanol and biofuels receive $5.72 per British thermal unit of energy produced. That compares to $2.82 for solar and $1.35 for refined coal, but only three cents per BTU for natural gas and other petroleum liquids. . . .