Fewer guns, more crime, in Mexico

The Washington Times has this interesting piece by Robert Farago. However, I don't think that our interdiction efforts on guns has any real effect on the drug cartels getting guns.

Long before the Mexican drug cartels cut a distribution deal with their South American confederates, back when Colombian drug lords were busy corrupting their society's democratic system, Mexico's federal government was cracking down on private gun ownership. Its war against civilian firearms began in 1968, after civil unrest spooked the powers that be. The Mexican government closed all privately held firearm stores. From that point on, all firearm sales had to go through the Mexican Defense Ministry. It determined what guns were sold to whom at what price.

As you'd expect, this artificial concentration of supply led to a worsening of endemic corruption. Bottom line: Only the wealthiest Mexicans could legally secure a firearm for personal protection. Sometimes not even they could. The Defense Ministry's sales practices also reflected its self-serving political agenda. It restricted legal access to guns to the point where some Mexican law enforcement agencies were forced to smuggle in weapons from the United States. So were thousands of civilians. . . .

In any case, Mexico's problem needs a Mexican solution. The same guns that President Felipe Calderon and President Obama vilify for crossing the border could actually be the country's salvation. More guns, less crime? If it works for us, and there are those who argue that point most persuasively, why not for Mexico? Equally important and more personally, if you lived in one of Mexico's northern border towns, wouldn't you want to carry a gun? Exactly.

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Gallup: Hispanic Voters Drifting Back to GOP

Hispanics care about results on jobs and the economy, just as the rest of the country does.

Hispanic voters’ support for Democratic candidates waned in August and September. As a result, Hispanics in September favored Democrats by a 13-point margin (51% to 38%), compared with 32-point margins in June and July. …

I have to say though that I am somewhat dubious of the Gallup survey results because they have been all over the map on the generic congressional vote. The weekly swings have been much larger than for other polls.

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Rape in prison

It looks like there are more rapes of males in prison than there are rapes of women outside of prison. See this study here, but remember you have to adjust the relative rates of attacks on men and women by their shares of the prison population.


Obama as anti-free market, is there even a question?

Is Obama anti-business? Last week Obama defended himself against these claims. Now Austan Goolsbee explains that Obama isn't anti-business because (video available at link):

“There have been people criticizing the president, saying he’s a socialist, he doesn’t believe in the private market — that’s totally bogus." . . . “From the beginning and continuing up to the present, the president has always said that the private sector is going to be the only sustainable source of job creation and growth in this country, and that’s what we need to have.” . . . .

Ugh? What does the fact that the president says that most jobs will have to be working for private firms have to do with proving that he isn't anti-business. He wants to use government grants to business to determine what businesses will grow. That is pro-market?

Goolsbee blames the angry sentiments on: “When the unemployment rate is 9.6 percent, and when you’re coming out of the deepest hole in anybody’s lifetime, you knew that there were going to be a lot of people generally upset and not feeling good about where they are. ..." Obama is surely anti-free market. He dislikes businesses, though he is happy to give wealth transfers to some of them.

Goolsbee also did an interview that just came out with the WSJ. He claims that Obama isn't anti-business because he "pushed through 16 tax cuts to assist small businesses and proposed additional incentives." The problem is that Obama doesn't trust businesses to make decisions. See also here.

Obama and Goolsbee keep claiming that this is the worst recession since the Great Depression, though Goolsbee claims that this is "the deepest recession since 1929."

Obama's anti-business attitudes don't just stem from his support for various price controls on everything from credit markets to health insurance. It isn't just that he is constantly attacking corporate officers for their excessive pay. He attacks insurance companies for being excessively concentrated and he lies about how concentrated they are.

Strong arming bondholders to get them to agree to forfeit their investments. Obama denounced Chrysler creditors as "speculators" who refuse to sacrifice as they should. Forcing the removal of auto dealerships that the companies didn't want removed and remove dealerships based on the gender and race of the dealers. After bailing out banks, Obama sought authority to seize any financial institution whose collapse might be "a systemic risk" to the economy. Attacking the profits of insurance companies and blaming those profits for the high cost of their insurance. He attacked doctors who give patients unnecessary tests or medicine as: "And it's driven from a business mentality instead of a mentality of, how do we make patients better?" What about calling Wall Street "fat cats."

His discussions with CEOs involve lecturing them: "He has held a number of meetings with CEOs, formally and off the record, but attendees I’ve talked to feel that although he listens intently, he rarely changes course."

Possibly Obama may go as far as claiming that the health care bill was done for businesses because he wanted to lower their costs.

Dinesh D'Souza is wrong when he says that Obama "isn't exactly a socialist." If he isn't socialist, he is fascist. Where private ownership is allowed, there is complete government control.

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Another Fox News piece that I had this week: Would Unemployment Really Have Been Worse Without the Stimulus?

The Fox News piece starts this way:

Would the economy have been in worse shape if the various stimulus packages had never seen the light of day? Or without the creation of the $1.3 trillion plus deficits? President Obama and his economists keep assuring us that his policies have saved us from even higher unemployment and a major depression. Today Obama signed another stimulus bill purportedly aimed at small businesses and he promises more of the same. . . .

Well, if Mr. Obama and the Democrats are doing such a good job, no matter how bad things are in the US, it must be even worse in other nations, right? . . .

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Government to own 92 percent of AIG

Hopefully this will be more temporary than for GM so far.

The company and its rescuers in the federal government have been working intently in recent weeks to complete such a plan before the expiration of the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program on Oct. 3, and before the Fed’s bailout loan came due. The original terms called for A.I.G. to pay back the Fed within two years.

Under the plan, the Treasury Department will, for a time, own 92.1 percent of A.I.G. before it begins to sell it shares. . . .


So much for the government's estimates of the number of people who would lose their health insurance under Obama care

What a surprise, but it looks like price controls impact the supply of a product. Remember when the CBO told everyone this:

the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that 10 million workers could lose employer-provided benefits and would have to find other insurance.

Now we have this:

McDonald's Corp. has warned federal regulators that it could drop its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers unless regulators waive a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul.

The move is one of the clearest indications that new rules may disrupt workers' health plans as the law ripples through the real world.

Trade groups representing restaurants and retailers say low-wage employers might halt their coverage if the government doesn't loosen a requirement for "mini-med" plans, which offer limited benefits to some 1.4 million Americans.

The requirement concerns the percentage of premiums that must be spent on benefits.

While many restaurants don't offer health coverage, McDonald's provides mini-med plans for workers at 10,500 U.S. locations, most of them franchised. A single worker can pay $14 a week for a plan that caps annual benefits at $2,000, or about $32 a week to get coverage up to $10,000 a year.

Last week, a senior McDonald's official informed the Department of Health and Human Services that the restaurant chain's insurer won't meet a 2011 requirement to spend at least 80% to 85% of its premium revenue on medical care.

McDonald's and trade groups say the percentage, called a medical loss ratio, is unrealistic for mini-med plans because of high administrative costs owing to frequent worker turnover, combined with relatively low spending on claims. . . .

McDonald's move is the latest indication of possible unintended consequences from the health overhaul. Dozens of companies have taken charges against earnings—totaling more than $1 billion—over a tax change in prescription-drug benefits for retirees.

More recently, insurers have proposed a round of double-digit premium increases and said new coverage mandates in the law are partly to blame. HHS has criticized the proposed increases as unwarranted. . . .

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House passes new trade restriction bill

If some one wants to sell us products at less than cost (assuming the charges are correct) for years on end, what is the problem? The bill that passed didn't include the high tariffs that were written into the original bill. This bill is the only trade bill voted on by the House during Obama's first two years as president.

The House on Wednesday fired a warning shot at China by passing a bill with strong bipartisan support that would raise tariffs on Chinese imports if the Asian giant keeps an artificial lid on its currency.

Republicans from industrial states joined most Democrats in giving new powers to the Commerce Department to consider whether China's policy of tying the value of its currency to the dollar, rather than allowing it to rise in response to market forces, represents an unfair trade practice.

The vote was 348-79, with all but five Democrats and 74 Republicans voting in favor.

"Talk doesn't work," said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander M. Levin, rejecting protests from the Obama administration — like the Bush administration before it — that the best way to persuade China to abandon its practices is to use quiet diplomacy in international forums.

China promised to loosen its currency restrictions this past spring in response to international pressures, but the Chinese yuan or renminbi has risen by less than 2 percent since then. Economists estimate that it is undervalued by as much as 40 percent.

"A 25 percent to 40 percent tilt against us is unacceptable," said Mr. Levin, Michigan Democrat. "This bill says we cannot and will not look the other way. We are going to act." . . .

Obama was the same guy who imposed steep tariffs on tires:

A 35 percent duty will be set on the tires from China for a year, followed by a 30 percent tariff for a second year and a 25 percent tariff for a third year. The tariffs come in addition to a 4 percent tariff already applied.

The petition for the tariffs was brought by the United Steelworkers union, which argued that increased imports from China had led to the closure of U.S. plants and elimination of U.S. jobs. . . .



Newest Fox News piece: Why Gun Bans Still Don't Work

My newest Fox News piece starts this way:

Yesterday's wild shooting spree at the University of Texas fortunately ended without anyone being hurt before the gunman shot himself. Naturally, the incident has yet again raised the question over gun bans, such as the ban currently in effect at the University of Texas.

Do they actually do more harm than good?

Gun bans as the solution to gun violence has popped up again, covering different areas. It would have been nice if such bans had stopped criminals from using guns. But, alas, the results are invariably the same, whether the ban is put in place for college campuses, cities, or entire nations: gun bans disarm the law-abiding, not criminals. Instead of making victims safer, they make criminals safer.

Take a simple example. . . .

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DC's murder and violent crime rates keep falling after their gunlock and gun ban laws were struck down

DC crime data is available here. For a discussion of what Chicago's Mayor Daley predicted would happen see here. My own argument for what has happened focuses most heavily on the Supreme Court striking down DC's gunlock law.

UPDATE: For a discussion on what happened to murder in Chicago after its ban ended see here.

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"More Celebrities Than Ever Are Carrying Firearms"

Permits are apparently increasing across the economic spectrum.

They might not be dangerous, but they're armed.

Seeking an added layer of protection, more high-profile celebrities are seeking permits to carry guns in New York City, according to New York's Daily News.

Among the big names licensed to pack heat: Marc Anthony, Robert De Niro, Donald Trump, and his son, Donald Jr., Mets third baseman David Wright, and Martha Stewart's daughter, radio host Alexis Stewart. . . .

One reason for the rise in interest seems to be the vulnerability some celebrities feel in the Internet age, where so much personal information can be accessed online. "They can get their own security, but with the Internet, it is much easier to find people," attorney John Skylar Chambers tells the News. "They don't want to find someone on their lawn at five in the morning."

Gun permit aren't easy, or cheap, to get. Applicants must show that they often carry large amounts of cash or valuables, or that they are being threatened in some way. And the application alone costs a nonrefundable $340.

Despite the rise in applications from celebrities, the number of permits issued in New York City is actually down by 2.4 percent this year, to 2,093. . . .

Thanks to Gus as always for providing this link.

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Coverage of Talks in Texas

The horrible attack on Tuesday did generate a lot of news coverage of my talks in Texas. The fact that the talk had to be moved off campus only seemed to increase interest.

From KVUE news:

Tuesday morning’s shooting on the University of Texas campus has already re-ignited the debate about gun control laws and gun rights. Specifically whether U-T students should be allowed to carry concealed handguns on campus.
Ironically student groups had organized an event in favor of carrying guns on campus for Tuesday night; however, following the shots that were fired it was moved off campus.

Nearly 100 gun rights advocates showed up at Brave New Books in West Campus to hear author John Lott's argument for guns on campus.

“The amazing thing is how few times the permit holder has to fire the gun,” said Lott. “Most of the times these permit holders stop these crimes by having the guns and pointing at the attacker.” . . .

From the Christian Science Monitor, though the student who paraphrased misstated the claim that I was making.

Mike Ward from the Austin American Statesman has this take here.

Over at the American Thinker there is this piece by David Paulin, who has a relatively long discussion of what I said.

Here is something from the UT Daily Texan, though I don't think that they got my quote.

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The Murder Rate in England and Wales after the handgun ban

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People getting sick from reusable grocery bags?

I disagree about these bags being good for the environment, so I guess using these bags is 0 for 2. Plus you could add in the costs of inconvenience and time to take these bags with you. The bacteria count is here:

They are good for the environment, but reusable grocery bags are also a breeding ground for bacteria.
Many responsible shoppers carefully choose their groceries and put them into the same cloth or plastic bags over and over again on every trip to the store.
“Did you ever wash your grocery bags?” asked Call7 Investigator Theresa Marchetta. . . .
The CALL7 Investigators tested several reusable bags used by 7NEWS colleagues and another from a woman going into a Denver grocery store.
Marchetta brought the lab results to Dr. Michelle Barron, the infectious disease expert at the University of Colorado Hospital.
"Wow. Wow. That is pretty impressive," said Barron.
Barron examines lab results for a living.
"Oh my goodness! This is definitely the highest count," Barron commented while looking at the bacteria count numbers.
She admitted she was shocked at what was found at the bottom of the bags.
"We're talking in the million range of bacteria," she said. . . .


Piece at NRO: "Guns and the Drop in the Violent Crime Rate"

My piece starts off this way:

President Obama undoubtedly didn’t intend it, but he deserves some credit for the recent report that all violent crime rates dropped in 2009, murder rates by 7.4 percent, robbery rates by 9 percent: His election caused gun sales to skyrocket, and crime rates to plummet.

Gun sales started notably rising in October 2008, and sale really took off immediately after 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. . . .

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Weren't the Dems hysterical about wiretaps?: Now they are expanding their use

So much for consistency.

The Obama administration is developing plans that would require all Internet-based communication services -- such as encrypted BlackBerry e-mail, Facebook, and Skype -- to be capable of complying with federal wiretap orders, according to a report published Monday.

National security officials and federal law enforcement argue their ability to eavesdrop on terror suspects is increasingly "going dark," The New York Times reported, as more communication takes place via Internet services, rather than by traditional telephone.

The bill, which the White House plans to deliver to Congress next year, would require communication service providers be technically capable of intercepting and decrypting messages, raising serious privacy concerns, the Times said.

The proposal has "huge implications" and poses a test to the "fundamental elements of the Internet revolution," vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, James Dempsey, told the Times.

"They basically want to turn back the clock and make Internet services function the way that the telephone system used to function," he was quoted as saying. . . .


"Even Dems are fast losing confidence in government"

Actually the headline probably should be a loss of confidence in the ability of Dems to run congress, but I guess that I hope that Washington Post is right that it is their general loss of confidence in government.

A Gallup poll out today sheds some new light on all the talk about the "enthusiasm gap": It finds that confidence in the legislative branch has dropped most precipitiously among Democrats.

The poll's toplines are worrisome enough for Dems: Confidence in the legislative branch is at a record low of 36 percent. That's yet another sign of all the anti-incumbent sentiment we keep hearing about. But, even more ominously for Dems, this drop is driven almost entirely by Democratic voters:

As you can see, confidence in the legislative branch has dropped an astonishing 14 points among Dems since last year, to a bare majority of 51 percent.. By contrast the drop in confidence among Republicans and independents is minimal, since it was much lower to begin with.

There are a whole bunch of possible causes for this. Maybe the strategy of GOP obstructionism is working brilliantly: The inability of Dem leaders to prevail, and the resulting sense of government dysfunction, is deflating Dem confidence. Maybe it's the economy -- though it's unclear why that would disproportionately impact Dems.

Or maybe this is more evidence of a much-remarked-upon phenomenon: Dem euphoria upon taking control of the whole government was so high that a steep fall was inevitable. Whatever the cause, this really drives home, again, the folly of the Dem decision to punt on the middle class tax cuts vote. Simply put, rank and file Dems need to have their confidence restored -- and fast. . . . .

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New Census Numbers show who will gain and lose seats in Congress

The new estimates are from Election Data Services:

A new estimate of House reapportionment gains and losses resulting from this year’s Census reveals a larger-than-expected impact on Florida and New York. According to Washington-based Election Data Services, which reviewed new Census data from a private-sector demographic firm, Florida would gain two House seats and New York would lose two seats.

They would join two other states that already were projected to have multiple-seat changes. Based on the tentative Census data, Texas is expected to gain four House seats and Ohio likely will lose two seats.

According to the EDS estimate, six other states each would gain one seat: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Eight states would each lose one seat: Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. . . .


A lesson that the Obama administration hasn't learned regarding loans: Supply and Demand both matter

I would also add that I don't think that most lenders want the government to "invest" in them. Others have learned the hard way what government "help" means in terms of bringing politics into business decisions. Now apparently, the problem isn't so much the lack of funds, but the lack of return to borrowing more money. Lower interest rates will generate more borrowing, but loans that shouldn't be made because the benefits from those investments are less than the true costs.

President Barack Obama's $30 billion small community business lending program faces one big challenge: many of the community banks and businesses it's supposed to help don't want it.
The lending program is part of a bill that passed the House of Representatives on Thursday and now awaits the president's signature. The legislation contains a mix of tax cuts and credits aimed at helping small businesses. The centerpiece of the bill is an effort to make billions of dollars available to community banks for loans to small businesses.
It seems like a simple effort to unclog a credit pipeline that has been blocked since the financial meltdown two years ago. But interviews with seven community bankers, as well as small business owners, show a reluctance to participate.
"People in my constituency can't get credit, and this will get money out to small businesses, who are the engine of job creation for this country," said Republican Sen. George LeMieux of Florida, who co-authored the amendment that created the lending program.
Bank executives say their customers don't want loans, even at low interest rates, because the sluggish economy has chilled expansion plans. Some say the federal money isn't worth it because they fear it will come with too much regulatory oversight.
"We have taken a strategic decision not to have our primary regulator, the government, also be a partner in our bank," said William Chase Jr., CEO of Triumph Bank in Memphis.
Chase said the bank already has enough capital to meet the paltry demand for loans. "Our business customers are mired in uncertainty and are reluctant to invest in their businesses," Chase said.
Ninety-one percent of small business owners surveyed in August by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said all their credit needs were met. Only 4 percent cited a lack of financing as their top business problem. Plans for capital spending were at a 35-year low. . . .

Possibly the TARP program did produce at least on benefit, though those who are already on the hook for TARP seem most interested because the government already can do what it wants with them. From the WSJ a few days ago about how bank executives have already been burned by the government:

However, small bank executives argue that they won't use the program, in part, because of uncertainty about whether government regulators will change the rules after they are already borrowers. Other institutions said they worry about the stigma associated with taking money from the government.

"Many community bankers I spoke with felt that once they agreed to participate the rules would change," said Patricia Satterfield, president of the Virginia Association of Community Banks, in Richmond, who spoke with community bank CEOs in Virginia over the summer about the program.

With good reason--roughly 500 community banks that received capital injections from the Troubled Asset Relief Program later became subject to executive compensation restrictions that were imposed after they had already committed to participate in the program.

The residual stigma from TARP also weighs on the program.

"The administration and supporters of this bill made great strides to differentiate between TARP and the program, but there is always going to be possibility that people will consider that taking funds from this program is the same as taking TARP funds," said Bill Loving, president and CEO of $250 million, 85-year-old Pendleton Community Bank in rural Franklin, W. Va.. . . .

The structure of the program, he added, will encourage these almost-troubled banks to make risky loans so that they can meet their requirement to increase lending within two years of receiving government capital. A failure to expand lending, after they have received government funds, will result in higher dividend payments to the Treasury Department, and more problem costs.

"Looks to me like a lot of bad loans could possibly be made through this program," [Bernard Clineburg, chief executive of the $2 billion, 13-year-old Cardinal Bank, in Fairfax, Va.] said. "It's not so much stigma but stupid." . . . .

One category of community banks that are expected to take advantage of the program are a large chunk of the roughly 500 of so institutions that have already received TARP funds. Those TARP recipients that aren't late on their dividend payments are expected to be permitted to convert their TARP stakes over into the new program.

These institutions are likely to seek to convert their stakes, not only because they would have the opportunity to reduce their dividend payments to the government, but also because the program would eliminate the executive compensation restrictions and costly warrants that came attached to the original TARP program. . . . .

Rusty Cloutier, CEO of $1 billion Midsouth Bancorp Inc. (MSL) in Lafayette, La., said he is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to convert his $20 million TARP stake into the new program, in part, so that the stake's "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in warrant costs are removed. . . . .

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The failed Home Affordable Modification Program

Home prices continue to fall. People make a lot of the increase in sales in August, but that is just a partial rebound from the horrendous drop in July. Still all this shows that the government mortgage guarantees are not riskless and there is no guarantee that the government will get its money back.

The median price for a U.S. home fell 1.9% in August compared with July to $178,600, a 0.8% increase from August 2009, the National Assn. of Realtors said Thursday.

"The reality is that home buying activity is still at an incredibly low level and will only increase modestly from here," said Paul Dales, U.S. economist with the research firm Capital Economics. "Home sales were only able to rise by this much in August because they had fallen so far in the months after the home buyer tax credit expired."

Previously owned homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.13 million units in August from an upwardly revised 3.84 million in July. That pace remains 19% below the August 2009 pace.

The market for previously owned homes fell off a cliff in July, with sales dropping 27% to the lowest level in more than a decade after the boost from the popular federal tax credit evaporated.

Sales of single-family homes, which make up the bulk of the market, rose 7.4% from July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.62 million units. That pace was still 19.2% below August 2009. . . .

Half of those who received help from the HAMP program still ended up in default. Note that taxpayers are going to be on the hook for these defaults.

More than half of U.S. borrowers who received loan modifications on delinquent mortgages defaulted again after nine months, according to a federal report.

The re-default rate of loans modified in the first quarter of 2009 was 51.5 percent by the end of the year, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision said in a joint report today. The figure, which measures payments at least 30 days late, climbed to 57.9 percent for changes made in the prior 12 months. . . .

Half dropped out of the program:

More than half of the 1.3million homeowners initially helped by the Obamaadministration's marquee foreclosure prevention program havesince dropped out, the Treasury Department said Wednesday.

About 53,000 borrowers dropped out of the Home AffordableModification Program, or HAMP, in August, putting the totalnumber of dropouts at roughly 683,000.

That is about 51 percent of the roughly 1.3 millionborrowers who started in the program since its March 2009inception.

The dropout rate was also up from a 48.1 percent ratethrough July and underlined the continuing distress felt byhomeowners facing falling prices and rising foreclosure rates. . . .

The program hasn't meet its goals:

With the news on September 16 that the number of American homes lost to foreclosure is up 25 percent on the year, one naturally turns an inquisitive eye to the efficacy of President Obama’s key tool in combating this crisis—the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

When I look at the performance audits of the HAMP performed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) and the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP), I find a program that has underwhelmed and underperformed, especially when compared to its stated goals and the size of the crisis we face.

When HAMP began, the Department of the Treasury outlined a goal to help between three and four million homeowners avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, this big-government solution has not come close to hitting its target. Through more than a year of HAMP, the Administration has only offered 1.3 million trial modifications and a shockingly inefficient number of those trial modifications remain actively permanent (less than 500,000, through June 2010, according to the GAO). To put this number in perspective, over 338,000 homes were subject to foreclosure filings in August 2010 alone. . . . .

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Dems try extremely negative advertising very early this election in attempt to keep power

This story is originally from the New York Times. Will Democrats be successful in their efforts?

As they struggle to break through with economic messages, many Democrats are deploying the fruits of a yearlong investigation into the business and personal histories of Republican candidates in an effort to plant doubts about them and avoid having races become a national referendum on the performance of President Obama and his party.

In Ohio, Rep. Betty Sutton calls her Republican rival, Tom Ganley, a "dishonest used-car salesman" who has been sued more than 400 times for fraud, discrimination, lying to customers about repairs, overcharging them and endangering their safety. She warns voters, "You've heard the old saying, buyer beware!"

In Arizona, Rep. Harry Mitchell accused his opponent David Schweikert of being "a predatory real estate speculator who snatched up nearly 300 foreclosed homes, been cited for neglect and evicted a homeowner on the verge of saving his house, just to make a buck."

In New York, Rep. Michael Arcuri introduces his Republican challenger, Richard Hanna, as a millionaire who "got rich while his construction company overcharged taxpayers thousands, was sued three times for injuries caused by faulty construction and was cited 12 times for health and safety violations." . . . .

Our strongest piece of opposition research on Democrats is their voting records," said Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "While character assassination seems to be the strategy for Democrats this year, the American people are supporting Republican candidates because they are providing an alternative."

A debate has broken out among some Democratic officials about the effectiveness -- or wisdom -- of running such pointedly negative advertisements with five weeks remaining in the campaign. . . .


The Financial Times writes a very positive article about Kennesaw, Georgia's gun law

This article is wrong about Kennesaw being unique, there are other cities in the US (Love, UT; Greenleaf, Idaho; Geuda Springs, Kansas; Virgin, Utah; and Cherry Tree, Pennsylvania), which have similar laws. Still it is an interesting article.

Kennesaw, Georgia, is Everytown, USA: a mixture of old wooden bungalows and cookie-cutter subdivisions, of seventh- generation locals and Mexican immigrants. Its quaint, cobbled historic centre is lush, with low-hanging trees and chirping cicadas. The civil war museum tells the history of the local Confederate fight against the Yankees. At the suburban malls on a humid Saturday afternoon locals vie to park their SUVs as close as possible to the Target and Best Buy outlets, and queue for tables at Chuck E. Cheese’s and Applebee’s.

But this city, half an hour’s drive north of Atlanta, is unique: it is the only place in America where it is compulsory to own a gun. In 1982, Kennesaw City Council unanimously passed an ordinance requiring households to own at least one firearm with ammunition. The law states that its purpose is to “protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants”. Kennesaw’s ordinance was a heartfelt assertion of second amendment gun rights, a principled and legislative rebuttal to a law passed earlier that year in Morton Grove, Illinois, banning guns within the city limits.

“It was official, but we were protesting as much as anything,” recalls Fred Bentley, a lawyer, who was already 56 when he wrote the ordinance. Looking every part the southern charmer in a grey suit and spotless white shirt topped with a gingham bow tie, Bentley keeps a loaded .38 revolver by his bed and two double-barrel shotguns from his hunting days. Otherwise his guns are decorative – a Brown Bess ­revolutionary-era musket stands by the door of his office.

Kennesaw residents were outraged not only by Morton Grove’s assault on the second amendment of the Constitution – which gives all Americans the right to bear arms – but also by “the slobbering way that the press portrayed the law as taking a stand against ‘evil’ handguns,” says Robert Jones, the president of the Kennesaw Historical Society and the owner of a .357 Magnum handgun. The American Civil Liberties Union challenged Kennesaw’s law as unconstitutional, but the federal court let it stand, although the city did add a clause exempting conscientious objectors, criminals, the mentally disabled and people who could not afford a gun. . . .

Though it will give liberals heartburn, Kennesaw’s gun policy works. . . .

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