Forthcoming Radio appearances

Wednesday, June 16th
Jason Lewis Show, 8 to 9 PM EDT.

This is tentative. It depends on how I feel.

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Dems argue about oddities in South Carolina Democratic Senate Primary

Personally I think that Democrats are really reaching new absurd levels in challenging this 18 percentage point victory. It should be noted that when there is little chance of a candidate winning in the general election people don't pay a lot of attention to the race.

But the election data showed that Greene fared worse in absentee voting than election day, when he performed at least 20 percent better in 10 counties and 43 percent in one, Ludwig said.

In another county, Rawl won the absentee vote count, 80 to 20 percent, but went on to lose to Greene by a margin of 60 to 40 percent, Ludwig said, adding that in other state races, the differences between absentee ballots and election day votes were very small and could be explained away by chance.

In that county of Lancaster, Greene received 81 absentee ballots compared to 424 for Rawl, according to the certified results. On Election Day, Rawl won the county with 1,026 votes to Greene's 944. But if the absentee ballots are subtraced, Greene received 861 votes to Rawl's 602. . . .

People who go out of their way to get an absentee ballot are probably more likely on average to be informed about an election. If true in this case, that by itself could explain the difference in absentee and those who went to the polls. With absentee ballots, people can look up the campaigns on the internet and see that Greene didn't really have a campaign to speak of.

A second irregularity that Rawl's campaign found was that Greene got more than 75 percent of the vote in 303 precincts, Ludwig said.

"That's pretty unusual even when you have a well-known incumbent being challenged by anyone," he said.

But the South Carolina Election Commission said there was nothing unusual about the results.

"We received the votes we received," said Gary Baum, director of training and public information for the commission. "They came in proper."

There are a lot of precincts in South Carolina. If people knew Greene's race or if the level of education varied a lot across precincts so that in some places people simply picked the first candidate, it seems quite believeable that one could get this result.


Obama blames others for oil spill

With Democrats massively controlling both the House and the Senate, Obama somehow gets in a dig at Republicans and blames them for the problems in the gulf. Never mind that "six months" ago that Obama never went to Congress over these issues and never mind that Republicans have virtually no power on the Hill, he was still going after them.

President Barack Obama said Friday that some members of Congress should share the blame for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

In an exclusive one-on-one interview with POLITICO, the president said: “I think it’s fair to say, if six months ago, before this spill had happened, I had gone up to Congress and I had said we need to crack down a lot harder on oil companies and we need to spend more money on technology to respond in case of a catastrophic spill, there are folks up there, who will not be named, who would have said this is classic, big-government overregulation and wasteful spending.”

The president also implied that anti-big government types such as Tea Party activists were being hypocritical on the issue.

“Some of the same folks who have been hollering and saying ‘do something’ are the same folks who, just two or three months ago, were suggesting that government needs to stop doing so much,” Obama said. “Some of the same people who are saying the president needs to show leadership and solve this problem are some of the same folks who, just a few months ago, were saying this guy is trying to engineer a takeover of our society through the federal government that is going to restrict our freedoms.” . . .

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The Obama administration finally admits something about its health care plan that should have been obvious to everyone

This is pretty depressing. From the AP:

Over and over in the health care debate, President Barack Obama said people who like their current coverage would be able to keep it.
But an early draft of an administration regulation estimates that many employers will be forced to make changes to their health plans under the new law. In just three years, a majority of workers—51 percent—will be in plans subject to new federal requirements, according to the draft.

Employers say it's more evidence that the law will drive up costs. Republicans say Obama broke his promise. But some experts believe increased regulation will lead to improved benefits for consumers.

"On the face of it, having consumer protections apply to all insurance plans could be a good thing for employees," said Alex Vachon, an independent health policy consultant. "Technically, it's actually improved coverage."

The types of changes that employers would be forced to make include offering preventive care without copayments and instituting an appeals process for disputed claims that follows new federal guidelines. The law already requires all health plans to extend coverage to young adult children until they turn 26. But such changes also nudge costs up.

The Obama administration said the draft regulation is an early version undergoing revision. Nonetheless, the leaked document was getting widespread interest Friday in lobbying firms that represent employers and insurance companies and on Capitol Hill.

"What we are getting here is a clear indication that most plans will have to change," said James Gelfand, health policy director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "From an employer's point of view that's a bad thing. These changes, whether or not they're good for consumers, are most certainly accompanied by a cost."

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said it showed that Obama's assurance that Americans would be able to keep the plans they currently have was "a myth" all along. . . .

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Why does the President need emergency power to completely run the Internet when he determines it is necessary?

From CNET:

A new U.S. Senate bill would grant the president far-reaching emergency powers to seize control of or even shut down portions of the Internet.
The legislation announced Thursday says that companies such as broadband providers, search engines, or software firms that the government selects "shall immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed" by the Department of Homeland Security. Anyone failing to comply would be fined.

That emergency authority would allow the federal government to "preserve those networks and assets and our country and protect our people," Joe Lieberman, the primary sponsor of the measure and the chairman of the Homeland Security committee, told reporters on Thursday. Lieberman is an independent senator from Connecticut who caucuses with the Democrats.
Because there are few limits on the president's emergency power, which can be renewed indefinitely, the densely worded 197-page bill (PDF) is likely to encounter stiff opposition. . . .

TechAmerica, probably the largest U.S. technology lobby group, said it was concerned about "unintended consequences that would result from the legislation's regulatory approach" and "the potential for absolute power." And the Center for Democracy and Technology publicly worried that the Lieberman bill's emergency powers "include authority to shut down or limit Internet traffic on private systems." . . .


San Francisco Examiner says that Mayor Daley's gun control comments aren't helping

The article by Gregory Kane is here.

America’s gun-control proponents might want to consider shooting (pun intended) this memo to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
“Dear Mayor Daley: Please shut up. You ain’t helping us.”
Is there anyone doing more damage for advocates of gun control than Daley? The man is a walking billboard for right-to-carry laws. Anyone needing proof of that might want to read the statements he made in the wake of an 80-year-old Chicago man fatally shooting a career criminal who invaded his home. . . . .

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Some of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico isn't from the BP spill

CNN has this interesting report. It seemed likely that the tar balls had gotten to Florida too quickly. I had also written about the amount of oil that leaks naturally.

It may be hard to fathom, but even with gallons of oil spewing every minute from BP's broken well head in the Gulf of Mexico, not all the oil pollution in the Gulf is BP's fault.

First, blame Mother Nature. And that's actually good news, but we'll get back to that.

Second blame many of the ships that criss-cross that area. . . .

But even though many millions of gallons of crude oil have leaked into the Gulf, much of what is washing up on beaches near in and around the Gulf is not from the Deepwater Horizon spill.

"We've done a number of tarballs from Florida, Key West, Miami and so forth, none of which so far have matched the Deepwater Horizon," Gronlund said. "The tarballs that have been found on the beach in Florida are fuel oil." . . .

Now back to Mother Nature.

Some of the oil in the Gulf is natural seepage from the sea floor. The Coast Guard's head of research and development, Capt. Matt Sisson, explained that in the Gulf and other oil-rich spots in the world, crude oil bubbles up through the sea floor and into the Gulf Waters. . . .


Retail sales slump during May

Biggest drop in retail sales in eight months.

Retail sales plunged in May by the largest amount in eight months as consumers slashed spending on everything from cars to clothing. The big drop raises new worries about the durability of the economic recovery.

The Commerce Department says that spending fell 1.2 percent last month. Auto sales were down 1.7 percent but there was weakness in a number of areas. Excluding autos, sales fell 1.1 percent.

The big decline cast new doubts about the strength of the economic recovery. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of total economic activity. Economists are concerned that households will start trimming outlays as they continued to be battered by high unemployment and a swoon in stock prices. . . .


Harrisonburg, VA editorial on Guns and Crime

An indulgence, but I wanted to reference this editorial.

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Elena Kagan confirmation: Reading through tens of thousands of pages of documents in a week or two

Good thing that they are quickly slamming through Kagan's confirmation or people might actually have time to read all the documents. Documents last week, 42,000 pages tomorrow, tens of thousands of pages more next week, and then the confirmation hearings the following week.

The Clinton Library tomorrow will release another 42,000 pages of documents after issuing a first batch a week ago. Employees of the National Archives are helping to review the papers.

The documents will include those from Kagan’s time in the White House counsel’s office and related to her 1999 nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, said Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the National Archives. A Republican- led Senate never acted on that nomination.

A final round of documents will be released next week, including e-mails from her White House tenure, Cooper said. . . .

This was an interesting find.

The Republicans also distributed a memo in which Kagan said she was “a bit shocked” by a government sting operation that used the U.S. Postal Service to catch child sex predators. She said a federal appeals court may have been right to uphold the operation and the court should abstain from review. But she said Marshall should still order the government to file a legal brief in the matter. . . .


Obama Administration lets special interest favors to unions stand in the way of cleaning up oil spill

Hasn't Obama been claiming that everyone who disagrees with him is a special interest? Wasn't the Obama administration supposedly standing out against special interests? From Fox News:

Foreign companies possessing some of the world’s most advanced oil skimming ships say they are being kept out of efforts to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf because of a 1920’s law known as the Jones Act -- a protectionist law that requires vessels working in US waters be built in the US and be crewed by US workers.

Joseph Carafano of the Heritage Foundation has been studying the matter and wonders, “Are we accepting all the international assistance in the maritime domain that we can, and is the Jones Act an impediment to that?”

The Coast Guard and the Administration are quick to point out that some foreign technology is being used in the current cleanup effort. Including:

- Canada’s offer of 3,000 meters of containment boom

- Three sets of COSEQ sweeping arms from the Dutch

- Mexico’s offer of two skimmers and 4200 meters of boom

- Norway’s offer of 8 skimming systems

But that is largely technology transferred to US vessels. Some of the best clean up ships – owned by Belgian, Dutch and the Norwegian firms are NOT being used. Coast Guard Lt. Commander, Chris O’Neil, says that is because they do not meet “the operational requirements of the Unified Area Command.” One of those operational requirements is that vessels comply with the Jones Act. . . .


Yoyito’s Cafe in Hialeah, scene of mass shooting, reopens

Yoyito’s Cafe in Hialeah, Florida experienced a horrible shooting on Sunday (June 6th), with four people killed, including the estranged wife of the killer.  From NBC TV in Miami:
The doors to Yoyito Restaurant at 495 E. 49th Street opened at about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, as owners and workers at the family owned and operated business were still reeling from the Sunday night shooting. . . .

However, since whether guns are allowed in the restaurant depends on the share of review it receives from alcohol, I called up the restaurant today after they reopened to see if guns were allowed in the restaurant (305-953-0701).   The restaurant does serve alcohol and because it is frequently used for parties its revenue from alcohol is actually above 50% (link pointed out to me by the Yoyito's Cafe).  So this was technically a gun-free zone.


Will Congress Act to Overturn Georgia's new law that lets?

Having a gun in these open areas at an airport is a long way from being able to hijack an airplane. Attacking people in a public area such as the check in area at an airport is no difference than doing so any other place. The general points about multiple victim public shootings applies here.

Congressman Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) wrote this in support of the federal government getting involved:

Only law enforcement and security personnel should be permitted to carry guns inside airports. The Airport Security Act, which I recently introduced in Congress, is a common-sense effort that would plug a gaping hole in the federal responsibility to secure the safety of the flying public.

As a high-ranking DeKalb County law enforcement official recently told me, our police are better able to enforce the law when citizens are not carrying concealed weapons in places like churches, shopping malls, courthouses, schools or airports. It is highly likely that a bystander would be killed or injured by “friendly fire” if individuals took it upon themselves to pull out a loaded weapon and fire “at will” in a crowded airport lobby.

Let’s trust law enforcement officials, who say firearms don’t belong at airports.

As the Airports Council International said in a recent letter to Hartsfield-Jackson, “There is no justification for permitting firearms at any airport.”

After 9/11, the federal government assumed responsibility for providing security in our airports. It was obvious that a coordinated effort was necessary. Having security in the hands of a myriad of air carriers was a recipe for disaster. . . .

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New Fox News piece: Think Tough Gun Laws Keep Europeans Safe? Think Again...

The new piece starts this way:

It wasn't supposed to happen in England, with all its very strict gun control laws. And yet last week Derrick Bird shot and killed 12 people and wounded 11 others. A headline in The Times of London read: "Toughest laws in the world could not stop Cumbria tragedy."

Multiple victim public shootings were assumed to be an American thing for it is here the guns are, right? No, not at all. Contrary to public perception, Western Europe, where most countries have much tougher gun laws, has experienced many of the worst multiple victim public shootings. Particularly telling, all the multiple victim public shootings in Europe occurred where guns are banned. So it is in the United States, too -- all the multiple victim public shootings (where more than three people have been killed) have taken place where civilians are not allowed to have a gun.

Look at recent history. Where have the worst K-12 school shootings occurred? It has not been in the U.S. but Europe. The very worst one occurred in a high school in Erfurt, Germany in 2002, where 18 were killed. The second worst took place in Dunblane, Scotland in 1996, where 16 kindergarteners and their teacher were shot. The third worst high school attack, with 15 murdered, happened in Winnenden, Germany. The fourth worst shooting was in the U.S. -- Columbine High School in 1999, leaving 13 killed. The fifth worst school related murder spree, with 11 murdered, occurred in Emsdetten, Germany.

With three of the worst five attacks, . . .

UPDATE: Police apparently saw the rampage killing occurring, but they were unable to stop it because they were unarmed.

Three police officers tried to chase Derrick Bird during his shooting rampage in Cumbria but could not stop him, it has emerged.

An unarmed officer based at a Whitehaven police station heard shots at 1033 BST on Wednesday.

He got into a passing car and followed Bird, who was in his own taxi, as he shot another driver. Two other unarmed officers followed in a police van.

Bird killed 12 people on the rampage in west Cumbria before shooting himself.

He also wounded 11 others as he drove for 45 miles through the Cumbrian countryside.

Paul Goodwin had seen the shooting at the taxi rank and decided to follow in his car.

He said: "Just as we got to the corner there were policemen coming down from the police station and I saw the local town bobby so pulled over and shouted 'get in the car - it's him in the taxi'.

"We got to the traffic lights, and we're probably about 10 or 15 yards behind and there's a man walking round the corner.

"I saw him jolt back and put his hands on his face and there was blood there.

"I said, 'it's Paul, it's another taxi driver'."

Deputy Chief Constable Stuart Hyde said that "at no point" did officers "have the opportunity to end the killings sooner".

He added that the first officer went to the assistance of the injured man, who had been in another taxi, and his female passenger, who had also been shot.

'Exceptional circumstances'
A police transit van, with two unarmed officers, then joined the pursuit and continued to follow Bird.

Bird appeared to pull into a driveway, turned and pointed the gun directly at the officers, before driving off at high speed.

The officers attempted to follow but were unable to locate him.

Cumbria Police said in a statement: "They were forced to protect themselves after it became clear they could not reverse due to the traffic that had built up behind them. . . .

Thanks very much to Erik Lidström for this link to the BBC.

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British telling Obama to cool the political attacks on BP

Someone is calling Obama on his rhetoric.

Senior Tories today warned Barack Obama to back off as billions of pounds were wiped off BP shares in the row over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Mayor Boris Johnson demanded an end to “anti-British rhetoric, buck-passing and name-calling” after days of scathing criticism directed at BP by the President and other US politicians.

Former Conservative Party chairman Lord Tebbit branded Mr Obama's conduct “despicable”. And with the dispute threatening to escalate into a diplomatic row, Mr Johnson also appeared to suggest that David Cameron should step in to defend BP.

He spoke as the US onslaught against the firm became a “matter of national concern” — especially given its importance to British pensions, which lost much of their value today as BP shares plunged to a 13-year low.

Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today whether he thought the Prime Minister should intervene, Mr Johnson said: “Well I do think there is something slightly worrying about the anti-British rhetoric that seems to be permeating from America. Yes I suppose that's right.

I would like to see cool heads and a bit of calm reflection about how to deal with this problem rather than endlessly buck-passing and name-calling.

“When you consider the huge exposure of British pension funds to BP and its share price, and the vital importance of BP, then I do think it starts to become a matter of national concern if a great UK company is being continually beaten up on the international airwaves.

“OK, it has presided over a catastrophic accident which it is trying to remedy but ultimately it cannot be faulted because it was an accident that took place. BP, I think is paying a very, very heavy price indeed.” . . .

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Venezuela has become a real economic basket case

From the BBC

Venezuela's biggest beer producer, food and drink giant Polar, is also the country's largest company still in private hands after President Hugo Chavez's nationalisation drive.

But that may not be the case for long.

Last week, Mr Chavez stepped up his attacks on Polar's billionaire owner, Lorenzo Mendoza, whom he has previously accused of pushing up food prices by hoarding products to cause artificial shortages.

For its part, Polar has called the allegations "absurd" and "senseless". . . .

Venezuelan economist Angel Alayon, of food industry body Cavidea, says that the government now controls 75% of coffee production, 42% of maize flour, 40% of rice, 25% of cooking oil, 52% of sugar and 25% of milk.

The government says it has a duty to secure food supplies and to prevent what it sees as "economic sabotage" by private companies. . . .

The country's economy contracted 5.8% in the first quarter of this year compared with a year earlier.

The International Monetary Fund predicts that its GDP will shrink by 2.6% in 2010, making it the only Latin American economy, and the world's only oil exporter, to see a contraction for this year.

Mr Chavez believes that a bigger economic role for the state is the only way to ensure the effectiveness of his price controls and stave off stagflation - the deadly combination of economic stagnation and high inflation that is currently assailing the country.

Venezuela's consumer inflation rate is currently the worst in Latin America, reaching an annual rate of 27% last year and expected to rise to 29.7% in 2010, according to the IMF. . . .

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Some commuters don't give up their seat for pregnant women because they fear offending someone who is just overweight

The BBC has this insight:

It's a minefield of mixed signals, indecision, guilt and offence. All played out painfully in public on a crowded bus or train.

Some people are just selfish, yes, but the average commuter would probably give up his or her seat for a pregnant woman, with good grace. It's just not that straightforward.

For a start, he might not have noticed her, and is instead lost in a book or World Cup supplement. Few people repeatedly scan for those more in need of a seat at every stop. And where does his area of responsibility end - shouting distance?

Then there's that nagging doubt - is she pregnant, fat, or just wearing a baggy top?

Whatever the discomfort of offending a pregnant woman by staying seated, is it preferable to the excruciating awkwardness of effectively telling a woman, within earshot of about 20 people, that her tummy is so inflated it looks as if there's a baby inside? . . .

No wonder some passengers are frozen by agonising indecision. A survey by gurgle.com, a website owned by Mothercare, says 84% of pregnant women regularly have to stand - and one of the reasons under discussion on its messageboard was that seated commuters don't want to offend the non-pregnant. To help make things clear, Mothercare sells "Baby on Board" badges. . . .



Economic Forecasts sure look for slow economic growth and lingering high unemployment rates for the next couple years

The Wall Street Journal has its monthly survey of economists.

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There will be a book forum on More Guns, Less Crime on June 17

Sponsored by the Cato Institute
More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition,
(University of Chicago Press, 2010)

Thursday, June 17, 2010
Noon (Luncheon to Follow)

Featuring the author John R. Lott, Jr.; with comments from Paul Helmke, President, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; and Jeff Snyder, Attorney and Author, Nation of Cowards: Essays on the Ethics of Gun Control (Accurate Press, 2001). Moderated by Tim Lynch, Director, Project on Criminal Justice, Cato Institute.

The Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

On its initial publication in 1998, John R. Lott's More Guns, Less Crime drew both lavish praise and heated criticism. More than a decade later, it continues to play a key role in ongoing arguments over gun-control laws. Relying on a comprehensive data analysis of crime statistics and right-to-carry laws, the book challenges common perceptions about the relationship of guns, crime, and violence. Now in this third edition, Lott draws on an additional 10 years of data — including provocative analysis of the effects of gun bans in Chicago and Washington, DC — that he claims lends even more support to his central contention that more guns mean less crime. Join us for a wide-ranging discussion of guns, self-defense, and public safety.

Cato events, unless otherwise noted, are free of charge. To register for this event, please fill out the form below and click submit or email events@cato.org, fax (202) 371-0841, or call (202) 789-5229 by noon, Wednesday, June 16, 2010 . Please arrive early. Seating is limited and not guaranteed. News media inquiries only (no registrations), please call (202) 789-5200.

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"Ambushed Florida Father in Shootout with Robbers"

This is a truly amazing story.

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Another Defensive gun use in Chicago

From Fox Chicago:

Suspected Robber Shot and Killed at NW Side Pawnshop
Updated: Wednesday, 09 Jun 2010, 7:04 AM CDT
Published : Tuesday, 08 Jun 2010, 4:40 PM CDT

Sun-Times Media Wire

Chicago - A convicted felon was shot to death as he tried to rob a Northwest Side pawnshop Tuesday afternoon -- the third incident involving a citizen shooting an assailant in the city in the past two weeks.

The man killed was identified as Michael McMillan, 24, of 309 N. Menard Ave., according to a spokesman for the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. McMillan was pronounced dead at Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center at 1:17 p.m., the spokesman said.

The slain suspect was convicted in 2006 of armed robbery and sentenced to boot camp, court records show.

Police sources said the owner of Fullerton Pawners Inc. shot the robber at about 1 p.m. inside the store. Two accomplices, one wearing a black backpack, ran away. One may have been wounded, sources said.

Police have recovered a revolver they believe the slain robber was wielding, sources said.

Joseph Barats, president of the store at 5900 W. Fullerton Ave., declined comment. On a YouTube video, Barats said the store is family-owned. He took over the business about five years ago, he says in the video. . . .

On June 3, a 27-year-old South Austin man shot and wounded a man who jumped through the window of a home as he was running away from police officers during a drug bust. And on May 26, an 80-year-old Korean War veteran shot and killed a suspected burglar at his home in East Garfield Park. The veteran was robbed at gunpoint last year, his family said.

Neither resident was charged with violating the handgun ban. In both instances, the slain robbers were convicted felons. . . .

The following story from ABC 7Chicago indicates that the other store owners were not surprised that the store owner had a gun for protection. The short written story from them is available here.

allowscriptaccess="always" allownetworking="all" allowfullscreen="true"

More info is available here.

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Piece at BigGovernment.com: How Obama Reduced Crime Rates Last Year

My newest piece there starts this way:

President Obama surely didn’t intend it, but he deserves some credit for last year’s 7.4 percent drop in murder rates. His election caused gun sales to soar, and crime rates to plummet.

While gun sales started notably rising in October 2008, sales really soared immediately after Mr. Obama won the presidential race. 450,000 more people bought guns in November 2008 than bought them in November 2007, that’s over a 40 percent increase in sales. By comparison, the change from November 2006 to November 2007 was only about 35,000. Over the last decade, the average year-to-year increase in monthly sales was only 21,000.
The increase in sales continued well beyond November 2008. From November 2008 to October 2009, almost 2.5 million more people bought guns in the 12 months after the election than in the preceding 12 months. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, doesn’t tell us how many guns each person bought just the number of people who bought them. Most likely though, gun sales rose by more than the number of people who purchased them. . . .

I should have included something like this in the piece. The impact of guns on crime rates can be due to multiple factors: 1) People using their guns defensively will prevent attacks from becoming crimes. So even if the number of attacks remain the same, the number of recorded crimes will fall. 2) Some criminals may gradually learn that the risk that they face from individuals being able to defend themselves is increasing.

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Supreme Court temporarily blocks Arizona public financing system

My research has shown that public funding, by reducing the amount that candidates directly spend in a race, helps protect incumbents. The Supreme Court on Tuesday temporarily blocked Arizona's public financing system.

The Supreme Court has blocked Arizona from distributing extra campaign money to political candidates who are relying on public funding.

The court says in a brief order Tuesday that it will prevent the state from using its system of so-called matching funds at least until the justices decide whether to hear the full appeal of opponents of the campaign funding system.

Publicly funded candidates get matching funds when they're outspent by privately funded rivals or targeted by independent groups' spending.

Lower courts split on whether matching funds are constitutional. . . .



Treasury expects huge increase in US national debt by 2015

Remember the national debt on September 30, 2008 was just barely over $10 trillion. Now it is announce that the Obama administration expects it to go up to $19.6 trillion in 2015. From 2000 to 2008 it increased by about $4.3 trillion. $1.5 trillion of that occurred with the Democrats were in charge of both the House and the Senate.

The U.S. debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015, according to a Treasury Department report to Congress. . . .


"Teens Face Worst Summer Job Market in 41 Years"

I wonder how much the worst job market is due to the Obama administration making it very difficult for companies to give out internships.

Employment among 16-to 19-year olds in May grew by just 6,000, the smallest increase since 1969, when teen jobs fell by 14,000, according to government data analyzed by employment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. In May 2008 and 2009, teen employment grew by over 110,000.

“It’s certainly a preliminary strong indication that it’s going to be a tough job market for teens,” said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Jobs traditionally given to teens are apparently going to older workers who are willing to take low paying job to make ends meet. Employment among 20- to 24-year-olds grew by 270,000 in May, an unusual spike, considering that employment in the same age group fell by 261,000 in May 2009.

"Also impacting the job market for young adults are the large number of older adults who are willing to accept even a temporary, seasonal position simply to generate some income," said Steven Rothberg, chief executive officer of CollegeRecruiter.com, an online entry-level job-posting site.

"We're seeing experienced candidates taking jobs normally reserved for college grads and college grads taking jobs normally reserved for college students," said Rothberg. . . .

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Some local news stories on defensive gun uses

Here is at least one case where the victim used a permitted concealed handgun.


A couple of notes on multiple victim public shootings in France

Here is one story:

Shootings in France reveal explosive social tensions
By Therese LeClerc
3 April 2002
. . . Over the last 10 years there have been at least 17 such incidents, often ending with the suicide of the perpetrator. In July 1992, a young worker killed seven people in the factory in Besancon from which he had been recently fired. He then killed himself. Twelve months later, a member of the gypsy community killed six of his relatives before committing suicide. In September 1995, a 16-year-old killed sixteen people, including three family members, and wounded seven others before killing himself. And last October a railway worker opened fire in the central French city of Tours, killing four people and wounding eleven others. He is currently in prison. . . .

Another story here:

French Railway Worker Goes on Shooting Rampage, Killing 4
Published: October 30, 2001

PARIS, Oct. 29— A masked railroad worker went on a shooting rampage in central France today, killing four people and wounding 10, including three police officers.

The only explanation offered by the authorities for the shootings in Tours was speculation by local officials that the gunman, Jean-Pierre Roux-Durrafourt, was angry at his employer, Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer, the national railroad. He was captured by the police in an underground parking garage. . . .

Ten injured by French nursery gunman in March 2009


Seven murdered in a shooting in Turin, Italy on October 15, 2002.

Seven dead, two seriously wounded in shooting in Italy on Sep 18, 2008.

An attack at a Sikh Temple in Austria that left one dead and 16 others injured.

A school shooting in Norway that left two dead in 2009.

Terror attacks in India are here.

Some attacks at airports.

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Kagan's moral beliefs and her role as a judge

Economist David Rose has an interesting piece at the Christian Science Monitor on Kagan and her views here.


"Remember Rahm Emanuel's rent-free D.C. apartment? The owner: A BP adviser"

First let me say that I don't think that Rahm Emanuel's positions were bought off by BP, but Rahm would argue that other people's positions were bought off if something similar were discovered for his opponents (even if it weren't as egregious as what Rahm did). The LA Times has some detailed discussions on the links here.

In case you were tempted to buy the faux Washington outrage at BP and its gulf oil spill in recent days, here's a story that reveals a little-known corporate political connection and the quiet way the inner political circles intersect, protect and care for one another in the nation's capital. And Chicago.

We already knew that BP and its folks were significant contributors to the record $750-million war chest of Barack Obama's 2007-08 campaign.

Now, we learn the details of a connection of Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago mayoral wannabe, current Obama chief of staff, ex-representative, ex-Clinton money man and ex-Windy City political machine go-fer.

Shortly after Obama's happy inaugural, eyebrows rose slightly upon word that, as a House member, Emanuel had lived the last five years rent-free in a D.C. apartment of Democratic colleague Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and her husband, Stanley Greenberg.

For an ordinary American, that would likely raise some obvious tax liability questions. But like Emanuel, the guy overseeing the Internal Revenue Service now is another Obama insider, Tim Geithner, who had his own outstanding tax problems but skated through confirmation anyway by the Democratic-controlled Congress.

Remember this was all before the letters BP stood for Huge Mess. Even before the Obama administration gave BP a safety award. . . .

The LA Times has a lot more detailed links here.

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Fallout from Helen Thomas controversy

It is interesting to see who is withdrawing their support for Helen Thomas after her controversial remarks over Jews on May 27th. First, it is clear that others knew about her views on Jews. As Howard Kurtz notes, "her hostility toward Israel has been no secret within the Beltway." Here are a couple of places that

Society of Professional Journalists

Similarly, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) are now considering renaming the “Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement,” which was first given to Helen Thomas in 2000. The board of the SPJ will be meeting in July to discuss a variety of issues, including renaming the award. . . .

Even though he was quite late to the party, even Mr. Obama finally weighed in on the controversy this morning:

"Her comments were offensive," Obama said. "It's a shame because Helen's someone who has been a correspondent through I don't know how many presidents - was a real institution in Washington. But I think she made the right decision."

A commencement speech was cancelled.

A high school graduation speech by veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas has been canceled because of controversial remarks she made about Israel, the school's principal said in an e-mail Sunday.
Thomas had been scheduled to speak at the June 14 graduation of Walt Whitman High School, but Principal Alan Goodwin wrote in the e-mail to students and parents that she was being replaced. The school in the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Md., hasn't picked a new speaker.
"Graduation celebrations are not the venue for divisiveness," Goodwin wrote. . . .

Not everyone is really upset. The Brady Campaign, which just gave her the Sarah Brady Visionary Award on May 18th, is not backing away from giving it to her.

Her acceptance speech is here.

On MSNBC some were upset about her leaving.

Apparently, the Rabbi who recorded Helen Thomas' latest outburst that got her in so much trouble has gotten 25,000 hate emails. The Rabbi, David Nesenoff, was also attacked by Keith Olbermann: “If an opinion writer had to retire from opinion writing because she gave an opinion, shouldn’t a man of God have to retire from being a man of God when he starts insulting some of God’s children?”

The Washington Post sarcastically attacks the Washington Times editorial on Thomas: "The Washington Times reveals that it's one classy organization with this headline:."



At same point in time Americans have a lower opinion of Obama dealing with the oil spill than Bush dealing with Katrina

It would be nice to account for the difference in media coverage. ABC's poll found this:

A month and a half after the spill began, 69 percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll rate the federal response negatively. That compares with a 62 negative rating for the response to Katrina two weeks after the August 2005 hurricane.

Click here for a PDF with full charts and questionnaire. . . .

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New Washington Times Editorials

An old review of The Bias Against Guns that I just found

DALE STEINREICH at Drury University has this review here.


Democrats plan pushing a lot more bills through the Senate

So much for hopes that the energy bill wouldn't get serious consideration.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) laid out an daunting summer agenda for the Senate on Monday afternoon, including a tax extenders bill, an emergency extension of unemployment benefits, a small-business jobs bill, the financial reform conference report and a war funding bill.

To top that off, the Senate also has to begin the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan and deal with the ongoing oil spill crisis in the Gulf.

"The work period between now and July 4 is short, but our to-do list is very long," Reid said.

As if that’s not enough to deal with, Reid wants key Senate committees to draw up an energy bill in wake of the oil spill crisis.

Late last week, Reid sent a letter to committee chairmen calling for the groundwork to be laid on a comprehensive energy bill. On the floor Monday, he made an even more explicit connection to the Gulf crisis and the need for an energy bill. . . .

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Chicago's murder rate up for the year

Well, just in time for the Supreme Court's decision in the McDonald case. From CBS 2 in Chicago:

The murder rate in Chicago is up so far this year, even though most other crime is down.

Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis said Sunday that the homicide rate is up 3.8 percent this year compared with last.

A news release on May crime statistics acknowledged, but downplayed, the drop in the homicide rate. The release said the 164 homicides recorded through May of this year were six more than those in the same period last year. . . .

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Almost on Congressional Democrats are holding Town Hall meetings with constituents

They obviously want to avoid the bad publicity of constituents getting angry at them.

Of the 255 Democrats who make up the majority in the House, only a handful held town-hall-style forums as legislators spent last week at home in their districts.

It was no scheduling accident.

With images of overheated, finger-waving crowds still seared into their minds from the discontent of last August, many Democrats heeded the advice of party leaders and tried to avoid unscripted question-and-answer sessions. The recommendations were clear: hold events in controlled settings — a bank or credit union, for example — or tour local businesses or participate in community service projects.

And to reach thousands of constituents at a time, without the worry of being snared in an angry confrontation with voters, more lawmakers are also taking part in a fast-growing trend: the telephone town meeting, where chances are remote that a testy exchange will wind up on YouTube. . . .

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How our stimulus dollars are being spent

Well, a lot more people are apparently going into the beauty business.

Massage and beauty schools, online universities and other for-profit colleges in Georgia and across the nation are cashing in on federal stimulus spending, collecting $2.2 billion in tuition grants for low-income students, public records show.

That represents nearly a quarter of the stimulus money spent on these grants to date.

The taxpayer-funded grants are flowing to profit-making schools as the government is seeking to revise how those schools qualify for federal aid, partly because of concerns over how some saddle their students with substantial debt. The effort follows a federal report that cited abuses in the recruiting practices of some of the schools. . . .


Gun sale increases so clearly timed with the November 2008 election

Since the data isn't really available in 1998, it isn't possible to examine the increase in gun sales during the previous biggest drop in crime during 1999.

The NICS background check data is available here. In May 2010, 1,016,876 checks occurred.



Facebook's massive collection of data on people's views

Facebook is collecting a lot of information about people's political views. It is a little concerning given how much time that Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has spent in the past helping out Democrat political causes.

What Zuckerberg didn't point out is that widespread use of the Like button allows Facebook to track people as they switch from CNN.com to Yelp.com to ESPN.com, all of which are sites that have said they will implement the feature.
Even if someone is not a Facebook user or is not logged in, Facebook's social plug-ins collect the address of the Web page being visited and the Internet address of the visitor as soon as the page is loaded--clicking on the Like button is not required. If enough sites participate, that permits Facebook to assemble a vast amount of data about Internet users' browsing habits. . . .

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Chileans using guns to defend themselves after earthquake

"The looting continued during the entire day, in the city and in the nearby urban centers. On the road to Chihuayante the situation on the streets was desolate -- all the supermarkets were pillaged. The brutal images of desolation -- in a super market totally looted by one of the mobs that operated here in Chihuayante. Practically there's not a supermarket that wasn't totally stripped bare. They are even taking building materials, parts of the shop windows. . . . After a night of terror, in some sections of Concepcion a night punctuated by rumors and a collective psychosis throughout all classes of society, many opted for defending themselves, confronted by what they called the advance of the hordes. . . . These scenes give account of the violence experienced by the people in the vicinity of Marina del Sol, in the residential area of Concepcion, when a self-defense group of neighbors detained several young men who apparently were getting ready to rob several houses." In many stories, people realized that the authorities were too overwhelmed to help.


Kagan will be a decidedly "liberal left" justice

I have several reactions to this. Previously Kagan supporters argued that her memos to Justice Marshall didn't reflect her own views, this was in a Second Amendment case involving DC. The New York Times article indicates quite clearly that she had strong personal views that she pushed while she was clerking. The memo in this case below indicates that she is not at all sympathetic to property rights and would support takings in its broadest forms.

Following a flurry of articles on this week’s opinions, Court commentators have turned their attention back to Elena Kagan’s upcoming confirmation hearings, parsing her records for clues to her judicial philosophy. At the New York Times, Charlie Savage highlights a memo Kagan wrote during her clerkship for Justice Thurgood Marshall, in which she emphatically urged the Justice to overturn a lower court ruling suggesting that a rent-control ordinance was unconstitutional. The memo, Savage writes, is one of hundreds housed at the Library of Congress that will be used in the coming weeks to illuminate her views. At CBS News, Jan Crawford reports on several additional memos from Kagan’s time as a clerk, including one on a case concerning a prisoner who wanted the state to pay for her to have an abortion, and another concerning a challenge to a school desegregation program. The documents, Crawford writes, reveal Kagan as “standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the liberal left” in the era of the relatively conservative Rehnquist Court. . . .

CBS's report to what a down the line "liberal left" justice that Kagan would make:

Kagan's abortion memo, expressing concern the conservative Court will use a prisoner's appeal to "create some very bad law on abortion."
Memo on "amazingly sensible" school desegregation program
Memo requiring states to recognize marriages from other states, saying the argument was at least "arguably correct."
Gun rights: "I'm not sympathetic."
Criminals' rights: wishes Court "would reverse" ineffective assistance of counsel ruling making it harder for criminals to challenge their convictions.