New York Time's public editor: fellow staffers "share a kind of political and cultural progressivism" that "virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times."

The scary thing is that the staff of the New York Times don't see the overwhelming bias that invades their stories.

In his final column for the Times, Brisbane wrote that his fellow staffers "share a kind of political and cultural progressivism" that "virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times." Brisbane even argued that Times reporters covered some liberal causes, like gay marriage and the Occupy movement, "more like causes than news subjects." . . . 
But Times executive editor Jill Abramson says she disagrees with Brisbane's "sweeping conclusions." 
"In our newsroom we are always conscious that the way we view an issue in New York is not necessarily the way it is viewed in the rest of the country or world. I disagree with Mr. Brisbane's sweeping conclusions," Abramson told POLITICO Saturday night. . . .

Labels: ,

Notes on Empire State Building shooting

There is a debate over whether the police "may have" accidentally shot some of the nine bystanders who were wounded.  Is it possible that they did accidentally shoot others?  Sure, that may indeed be true.  CNN has this:
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the bystanders were not hit directly by police, but rather the officers' struck "flowerpots and other objects around, so ... their bullets fragmented and, in essence, that's what caused the wounds." . . . 
Six of the wounded were treated and released at hospitals as of Friday evening, while three others remained hospitalized, Kelly said. . . . 
There is indeed the chance that the police shot all nine of the people who were wounded as well as the killer who they killed.  
"We have on tape the perpetrator pulled his gun out and tried to shoot at the cops," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "Whether he got off any bullets or not, to be determined." . . .
People have been writing me drawing the conclusion that this proves that private citizens with permits would also shoot bystanders.  There are a couple reasons for believing that this comparison is not correct.  The first is from the data.  As I have written before: "Nor have I found a single example on record of a multiple-victim public shooting in which a permit holder accidentally shot a bystander."  Second, private citizens are much more wary of using their guns.  Possibly this might be true because they don't have the legal protections that police have.  But accidental shootings by police doesn't imply much of anything for private citizens.

From Fox News:

A laid-off store worker returned to his old job near the Empire State Building and opened fire Friday on a former coworker, killing the employee and wounding several others.  
Authorities said the gunman, identified as 56-year-old Jeffrey Johnson, shot the ex-coworker at close range at a store near the landmark building in Manhattan. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said nine others were also shot, some by the perpetrator and "some may have been shot accidentally by police officers."  
Johnson, who lived in Manhattan, was shot and killed by police, officials said. His 41-year-old former coworker, whose name was not released, died from gunshot wounds to his head. . . . 
The gunman opened fire with a .45-caliber pistol at about 9 a.m. at 10 West 33rd Street, officials said. A construction worker followed Johnson, then spoke to police nearby. . . .
UPDATE: Apparently my inference that the police were responsible for the wounding of all nine civilians is correct.  From Fox News:

The veteran patrolmen who opened fire on the suit-wearing gunman, Jeffrey Johnson, had only an instant to react when he whirled and pointed a .45-caliber pistol as they approached him from behind on a busy sidewalk.
Officer Craig Matthews shot seven times. Officer Robert Sinishtaj fired nine times, police said. Neither had ever fired their weapons before on a patrol.
The volley of gunfire felled Johnson in just a few seconds and left nine other people bleeding on the sidewalk.
In the initial chaos Friday, it wasn't clear whether Johnson or the officers were responsible for the trail of wounded, but based on ballistic and other evidence, "it appears that all nine of the victims were struck either by fragments or by bullets fired by police," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters on Saturday at a community event in Harlem. . . .
For whatever it is worth, this is from the UK Guardian:
. . . . One of those injured by police told the Guardian that officers appeared to fire "randomly" as they confronted Jeffrey Johnson, 58, minutes after a workplace dispute escalated into a chaotic shootout in one of the busiest parts of Manhattan. 
Reports suggest that while Johnson drew his gun when he was confronted by officers, he did not fire; all those injured appear to have been shot by police. The New York police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, said officers had no choice but to act as they did: police discharged 14 rounds and the gunman died at the scene. 
The incident began just after 9am on Friday when Johnson, described as a "disgruntled former employee", walked up to Steve Ercolino, 41, his former manager at Hazan Imports, a business that operates from premises in Midtown, near the Empire State Building. Johnson shot him three times before calmly walking away. . . . .
UPDATE2:  There are a number of times when police have used what might be viewed as excessive force in these encounters.
It was the second time in two weeks that police officers fired fusillades on the crowded streets of Midtown — 28 shots fired between the two episodes — and with it, there were once again questions of police protocol in urban settings. In the first shooting, no bystanders were struck when officers fired 12 shots at a man with a knife just south of Times Square. . . . 
The New York Police Department does include such episodes in its firearms discharge report. In 2010, for example, the police hit three bystanders in a shootout with a gunman; the year before, one bystander was struck when an officer struggled with a suspect who was trying to take his gun, and the gun fired. . . . 

Labels: ,

Norwegian sentences Anders Behring Breivik to prison for 10 to 21 years for massacring 77 people

Not counting the well over hundred people who were injured by Breivik's attack near Oslo, even if he stays in prison for 21 years, the penalty comes to about 3.3 months per murder.  If Breivik only serves 10 years in prison, he will only serve 1.55 months per murder.  It is a strange case where the prosecutors were arguing that Breivik was insane.

A Norwegian court sentenced Anders Behring Breivik to prison on Friday, denying prosecutors the insanity ruling they hoped would show that his massacre of 77 people was the work of a madman, not part of an anti-Muslim crusade. 
Breivik smiled with apparent satisfaction when Judge Wenche Elisabeth Arntzen read the ruling, declaring him sane enough to be held criminally responsible and sentencing him to "preventive detention," which means it is unlikely he will ever be released. 
The sentence brings a form of closure to Norway, which was shaken to its core by the bomb and gun attacks on July 22, 2011, because Breivik's lawyers said before the ruling that he would not appeal any ruling that did not declare him insane. 
But it also means Breivik got what he wanted: a ruling that paints him as a political terrorist instead of a psychotic mass murderer. Since his arrest, Breivik has said the attacks were meant to draw attention to his extreme right-wing ideology and to inspire a multi-decade uprising by "militant nationalists" across Europe. 
Prosecutors had argued Breivik was insane as he plotted his attacks to draw attention to a rambling "manifesto" that blamed Muslim immigration for the disintegration of European society. . . .

Labels: ,

"Publicly Held Debt Set to Skyrocket"

Publicly Held Debt Set to Skyrocket
Publicly Held Debt Set to Skyrocket
Each American's Share of Publicly Held Debt Is Skyrocketing
Each American's Share of Publicly Held Debt Is Skyrocketing

The estimates from the White House for 2013 are available here.  The year-by-year numbers are here.

Historical data on publicly held debt are available here.

Labels: ,

Fast & Furious BATF Officials getting two paychecks at once

Some punishment these guys are getting.  Take the case of BATF Assistant Deputy Director Bill McMahon who approved the Fast & Furious operation and is getting paid both by the BATF and JP Morgan.  On top of that he will soon be able to retire at full pay from the BATF.  From Fox News:

Republican lawmakers allege in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that a key figure in the failed Fast and Furious anti-gunrunning operation has been allowed to earn a second paycheck while still receiving his government salary. . . .  
Sources tell Fox News the Office of Inspector General delivered the report to the Department of Justice on Tuesday. Under existing protocols, the department has a month to respond to the report's findings, after which, the inspector general typically releases the document to the public. 
Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Grassley and Rep. Darrel Issa, the two Republicans leading the charge against Holder on Capitol Hill, claimed in a letter Tuesday that ATF Assistant Deputy Director Bill McMahon has received a leave of absence allowing him to pull down two salaries. Taxpayers pay him six figures to do his ATF job while he's also reportedly pulling down in excess of $100,000 as the full-time director of global security and investigations for JP Morgan in the Philippines. 
The arrangement allows McMahon to retire in December with a full government pension.
Records show McMahon approved Fast and Furious and supervised it as director of western operations. . . .



Another way that we are becoming more like Europe: startling drop in religiosity

Walter Williams' Roast from 2003

This video is awesome.  It probably means more to me simply because I personally know so many of the people that spoke here.  But it is well worth watching.


Obama lawlessness: "Immigration agents file suit against Napolitano over 'amnesty' program"

Now ICE agents are saying that when Obama couldn't get Congress to change the law he started ordering the agents not to do their job.  From Fox News:

Ten federal immigration agents have filed suit against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claiming recent directives are forcing them to break the law and ignore their duties when it comes to deporting illegal immigrants.
The suit was filed Thursday in Texas federal court by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. It challenges recent directives allowing some illegal immigrants -- particularly non-felons and those who came to the U.S. as children -- to stay and, in some cases, get work permits.
The suit, obtained by Fox News, says the agents are being forced to "violate federal law." It says the new directive "unconstitutionally usurps and encroaches upon the legislative powers of Congress." ICE Director John Morton is also named as a defendant.
Kris Kobach, lead attorney on the case, equated the move to give thousands of illegal immigrants a reprieve to the failed Fast and Furious gun-walking operation.
"In both instances, the Obama administration ordered federal law enforcement agents to break the law, to ignore the laws that they're supposed to enforce, and, in the case of the ICE agents, to actually break federal laws that say you're supposed to deport certain people," he said. "And in each case, the Obama administration seems to be doing so for political reasons." . . . .


How bad is the unemployment rate for younger workers?

The bad labor market might take the form of unemployment, part-time employment, and jobs that they are overqualified for.  This article in Market Watch has some information on this last point:

Another survey by Rutgers University came to the same conclusion: Half of graduates in the past five years say their jobs didn’t require a four-year degree and only 20% said their first job was on their career path. “Our society’s most talented people are unable to find a job that gives them a decent income,” says Cliff Zukin, a professor of political science and public policy at Rutgers. 
The jobs that once went to recent college graduates are now more often going to older Americans. Over the past year, workers over 55 accounted for 58% of employment growth, says Dean Baker, a co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C. Why? Employers think older workers are a safer bet and more likely to stay, he says. Unemployment hovered at 6.2% in July for workers over 55, according to the Labor Department, but was more than double that rate — 12.7% — for those ages 18 to 29. 
As a result, college graduates are finding themselves locked into lower-paid jobs. “The shaky economy has forced many of them into a world of underemployment,” says Katie Bardaro, lead economist for PayScale. The starting salary for a graduate is $27,000, 10% less than five years ago, the Rutger’s study found. “Unlike those who graduated five years ago,” Zukin says, “the long-term expectations of this generation are not being met.” . . . .
The article is quite blunt:
Graduates must either face years of underemployment or go back to graduate school, experts say. . . . 
UPDATE: More on the impact for younger workers is available here:
The bleak labor market has hurt all age groups, but none more than the young. Consider the 23.4 million Americans who, on average, were considered "underemployed" over the past year. This group consists of 12.7 million officially unemployed; 8.2 million working part time but wanting full-time jobs; and 2.5 million desiring work but so discouraged they'd stopped looking. Of all these workers, 41 percent (9.5 million) were 30 or under, far in excess of their labor force share of 27 percent, reports Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank that provided these numbers. 
Fully one-fifth of younger workers belong to the "underemployed." As Shierholz notes, the young always have higher unemployment rates. It's just worse now. "Young workers are relatively new to the labor market -- often looking for their first or second job -- and so may be passed over in hiring due to lack of experience," she says. "If employed, their lack of seniority makes them candidates for being laid off." . . . 

Labels: ,

Letting Violent Felons vote and Obama's "war on women"

Shortly after Obama's 2010 State of the Union Address, Heather Higgenbottom, then deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council, had this statement (17:44 to 17:58 in video): 

The president's position, and many other legislators' position, is that for felons once you have served your sentence and you have done your time and you have completed that you should have your voting rights restored. 
At about 17:22 into the video she notes how this has been Obama's position on Federal legislation from the time that he has been a US Senator.  The comment makes it quite clear that Obama supports letting all felons vote, even all violent felons, even felons who have committed multiple violent crimes.  Someone can commit murder and be released from prison after 8 years.  The question is: why do people want murderers and rapists deciding who will win elections or what initiatives will be adopted?

As far as Obama's claims about a war on women goes, can someone explain why it is the interest of women that rapists (even people who have committed multiple rapes) should have a say in deciding who will win elections.  Do women really want rapists who have raped multiple women determining social policy for women?

The point is we presumably learn something from a rapist's behavior.  We learn something about how they value other people.

Having felons vote, even when a limited number of them vote illegally, can make a difference in elections ("When 1,099 felons vote in race won by 312 ballots").  Using polling data from Washington State, I found that virtually all the felons voted for Democrats (see the discussion in my book Freedomnomics here).  All minority felons voted for Democrats and almost all the white felons did also.

If you don't mind supporting advertising on this left wing website, here is an interview that I did with the HuffPost Live on Thursday about letting felons vote.

UPDATE:  Democrats are using their convention to continue to push the "war on women" theme.

UPDATE 2: "Obama fights erosion of female voters with attacks on abortion" October 10, 2012.

Faced with a sudden erosion of female support in recent opinion polls, President Obama sought Wednesday to bolster his standing by blasting Mitt Romney on abortion rights. 
In an interview with ABC News, Obama accused Romney of trying to “cloud” his views. 
The president's attack on his rival over the issue of abortion was the culmination of a battery of criticisms on the issue that Team Obama kept up throughout Wednesday. 
The apparent purpose is to claw back the support of female voters, which plunged in the wake of Obama's weak performance in last week's first presidential debate. 
“This is another example of Governor Romney hiding positions he's been campaigning on for a year and half,” Obama told host Diane Sawyer. . . .
The new Pew Poll showed some dramatic changes that have alarmed Obama's campaign.
A new Pew Research Center poll shows Mitt Romney leading by four percentage points, 49 to 45 percent, over President Barack Obama among likely voters. The previous Pew poll, conducted last month, showed Obama with an eight percentage point advantage (51 to 43 percent). The polls demographic variables show that Romney's 12 percentage point swing in the polls was due, in part, to shifting allegiances among women and young voters. 
Romney gained among almost every demographic group, based upon registered voters. His strongest gains were among those aged 30 to 49, 18- to 29-year-olds, those with some college education, whites and women. 
UPDATE: "Election could come down to what women want"
Martha Raddatz, the moderator in the vice presidential debate, did her best to argue about abortion with Paul Ryan.  Lynn Sweet at the Chicago Sun-Times has this:
Until Romney bested Obama in their first debate in Denver, Obama held a consistent lead among female voters in all polls as Democrats portrayed Romney and Republicans as waging a war on women.
A Pew Research Center poll conducted after the Oct. 3 debate from Oct. 4-7 showed women split between Romney and Obama. That was Romney’s best showing with women all year in a Pew survey. A Fox News poll taken Oct. 7-9 gave Obama an eight-point lead over Romney with female voters.
Michael Dimrock, Pew’s associate research director, said Romney may have gained “more traction” among women because of the debate where “Romney had a lot more ground to make up among women than among men — his personal image, and the Republican Party’s image, was far worse among women, meaning there was more damage to be repaired.”
And unlike the Thursday vice presidential debate — where Joe Biden and Paul Ryan talked about their opposing views on abortion — Biden supports, Ryan opposes abortion rights — social issues were absent from the Denver debate. . . .
UPDATE: October 15, 2012 "Swing States poll: Women push Romney into lead"
An analysis of that USA Today/Gallup poll is provided here in The Hill Newspaper:
President Obama's contraception mandate is helping him enormously with female voters, a new USA Today/Gallup poll says. 
The survey found that Mitt Romney has made enormous gains with female voters — the candidates were tied among women who are likely to vote, and Obama had a nine-point lead among registered female voters. Concern over the economy has helped Romney erode what was once a sizable gender gap. 
But the results suggest that Obama has found two winning issues in birth control and abortion.  
Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have attacked the administration's contraception mandate as an assault on religious liberty. But the USA Today poll indicates that emphasizing the policy could help Obama more than Romney. 
A greater emphasis on abortion rights could also help bolster Obama's standing with female voters, according to the USA Today poll. Nearly 40 percent of women cited abortion as the most important election issue for women. And respondents who cited abortion preferred Obama by a 3-1 margin. 
"That could signal an opening for Obama among women in the second debate and the final 21 days of the campaign," USA Today said in its write-up of the poll results. . . .
UPDATE: New York Times tries to gin up issue in editorial.  Take this bogus claim that the change of one Supreme Court Justice could over turn Roe.  When have their been any 5-4 decisions on the central issue of Roe or even a side issue?  Roe has been making it by 7-2 votes.
It would not take much to overturn the Roe decision. With four of the nine members of the Supreme Court over 70 years old, the next occupant of the White House could have the opportunity to appoint one or more new justices. If say, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the oldest member, retired and Mr. Romney named a replacement hostile to abortion rights, the basic right to abortion might well not survive. . . .
UPDATE: It is interesting to note that issues of importance to liberal women also were highlighted in he second debate.
Women watching the debate last night let out a collective “hallelujah”: issues of direct importance to our lives finally merited a mention. We got equal pay, contraception, Planned Parenthood, poverty and bizarre discussions of single mothers. . . .
UPDATE: A New York Times title on October 19, 2012 summarizes what is happening pretty well "Campaigning in Virginia, Obama Presses Fight for Women’s Vote."

President Obama reached out to female voters in this battleground state on Friday, saying that Mitt Romney would “turn back the clock” on women’s rights and accusing him of developing “Romnesia” by conveniently forgetting his most conservative positions. . . .

The fight for female voters intensified this week after the town-hall-style debate in Hempstead, N.Y., which included a question about equal pay for women that prompted a clash between the candidates over who would better serve women’s needs.
That debate spilled onto the airwaves, with Mr. Romney’s campaign quickly releasing an ad contending that he does not oppose contraception and believes that abortion should be legal in cases of rape and incest, and to save the life of the mother. . . .
“Women haven’t forgotten how we’ve suffered over the last four years in the Obama economy with higher taxes, higher unemployment and record levels of poverty,” Ms. Comstock said. “What is really frightening is that we know a second term for President Obama will bring devastating defense cuts that will cost Virginia over 130,000 jobs, more burdensome regulations and the biggest tax increase in history on our small businesses and families.”
I wonder if this approach by Romney will be appealing to women.

UPDATE: From Harold Meyerson's piece in the Washington Post on October 23rd:
The Romney who showed up for the third presidential debate Monday night was, by design, the challenger as milquetoast. With both candidates fighting hard for women’s votes, Romney was determined to avoid anything remotely bellicose in his approach to foreign affairs and his interactions with President Obama. . . .
UPDATE: The media giving extensive coverage to abortion issue may be having an impact on vote?
A flurry of new polls shows Mitt Romney eliminating a likeability gap with President Obama, but the incumbent rebuilding an advantage with female voters. 
The polls suggest Romney, who has had the momentum in the race since the first presidential debate, has completely repaired the damaged image that plagued him throughout the Republican primaries. 
Yet the polls also show Obama with a sizeable lead among women — who had trended toward Romney after the first debate — that could help him win a second term. . . .  
In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, Obama scored his largest margin of the cycle over Romney among women, 56 to 42. Romney had closed to within 6 points of Obama in the same poll a month earlier. The president also enjoys a 13-point advantage over Romney on “women’s issues” in that poll.
Gallup pollster Frank Newport told The Hill he doesn’t think female voters ever actually left Obama, pointing to Gallup’s likely voter survey, which, while showing Romney with his biggest lead of the cycle this week, showed Obama maintaining an 8 point lead among women. . . .

Labels: , , ,

Republican Party to study gold standard, a bad idea

I assume that there is a good chance that this commission will bury this proposal, but here is the proposal.

The gold standard has returned to mainstream U.S. politics for the first time in 30 years, with a “gold commission” set to become part of official Republican party policy.Drafts of the party platform, which it will adopt at a convention in Tampa Bay, Florida, next week, call for an audit of Federal Reserve monetary policy and a commission to look at restoring the link between the dollar and gold.The move shows how five years of easy monetary policy — and the efforts of congressman Ron Paul — have made the once-fringe idea of returning to gold-as-money a legitimate part of Republican debate. . . .
Here is the recent history of gold prices.  The stability up until the 1970s is an illusion because the value of the dollar was fixed in terms of gold.  But the extreme volatility of gold prices since then shows what would have happened to inflation and deflation if we had been on the gold standard.  Between 2001 and 2011, the price of gold rose by 5.8 fold.  What would have cost $100 in 2001 would apparently only cost $17.24 in 2011.  Could you imagine the chaos created by having that average change in prices over a decade?

UPDATE: What did inflation rates look like when countries were on the Gold Standard?  Here are some numbers for the UK (the entire 1750 to 1998 period is available here).  Even if the price level was relatively constant over the long run, you seem to have significant swings from one year to another.  Here is some information on the adoption dates for the UK:  "On 22nd June 1816, Great Britain declared the gold currency as official national currency (Lord Liverpool’s Act). On 1st May 1821 the convertibility of Pound Sterling into gold was legally guaranteed."


Democrats in Sacramento killing a bill making it easier to fire public school teachers who are sexual predators

This is a horrible situation where even when a public school teacher gets caught doing unbelievable acts the teacher gets paid to simply quit his job. While on net positive, there are problems with this CNN story, particularly its emphasis on campaign finance.  It almost seems like they did this story because of the campaign finance angle.  But rather than the donations altering how these politicians voted, it might simply be that the unions gave money to those politicians who agreed with them.  Rather than focusing so heavily on how teachers' union donations killed the bill, they should have focused just on the real story: how a majority of Democrats in the state legislature along with public teacher unions supported killing the bill.  How the unions got the legislators to go along is mere speculation (speculation that I think is wrong).  But CNN managed to turn a bad story for teacher unions into a call for what liberals want: campaign finance regulation.

Here is a related discussion about public school teachers in NYC.  From the WSJ:
. . . In the last five years in New York City, 97 tenured teachers or school employees have been charged by the Department of Education with sexual misconduct. Among the charges substantiated by the city's special commissioner of investigation—that is, found to have sufficient merit that an arbitrator's full examination was justified—in the 2011-12 school year:
• An assistant principal at a Brooklyn high school made explicit sexual remarks to three different girls, including asking one of them if she would perform oral sex on him.
• A teacher in Queens had a sexual relationship with a 13-year old girl and sent her inappropriate messages through email and Facebook.
If this kind of behavior were happening in any adult workplace in America, there would be zero tolerance. Yet our public school children are defenseless.
Here's why. Under current New York law, an accusation is first vetted by an independent investigator. (In New York City, that's the special commissioner of investigation; elsewhere in the state, it can be an independent law firm or the local school superintendent.) Then the case goes before an employment arbitrator. The local teachers union and school district together choose the arbitrators, who in turn are paid up to $1,400 per day. And therein lies the problem.
For many arbitrators, their livelihood depends on pleasing the unions (whether the United Federation of Teachers in New York City, or other local unions). And the unions—believing that they are helping the cause of teachers by being weak on sexual predators—prefer suspensions and fines, and not dismissal, for teachers charged with inappropriate sexual conduct. The effects of this policy are mounting. . . .

Labels: , ,


Congressional twitter accounts have large percentage of fake or inactive followers

Well, it looks like any simple comparisons over how popular candidates are by looking at their twitter accounts is highly problematic.  From The Hill newspaper:
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had the highest level of phonies following them. Polis’s followers are 82 percent fake, according to the study, a higher number than any other Democrat or Republican. Most others had a higher percentage of inactive accounts beefing up their follower numbers . . . . 
Pelosi’s analysis showed 24 percent of her followers are fake and 49 percent inactive, an identical result to McCain’s.  . . .
So what does it look like for the presidential candidates?
StatusPeople, a tool designed specifically to check for fake followers, finds that of Obama’s 18.6 million Twitter followers @BarackObama, 41 percent are fake, 29 percent inactive, and just 30 percent "good," or presumably real users. 
The tool also indicates that of Romney’s current 857, 260 followers @MittRomney, 12 percent are fake, 30 percent inactive and 58 percent "good." . . . . 

Labels: ,

Obamacare imposes arbitrary rules on hospitals

Great example of one size fits all government rule.  Research hospitals with more complicated cases and hospitals that specialize in heart failure cases are more likely to have higher 30-day readmission rates.  This seems like a perfect example of the rationing that we will be facing under Obamacare.  OK, so readmissions cost $17.5 billion a year, so? I assume that initial admissions cost a lot of money also.  The question is not just the costs per se, but how successful is the hospitalization.

A provision of ObamaCare is set to punish roughly two-thirds of U.S. hospitals evaluated by Medicare starting this fall over high readmission rates . . .Starting in October, Medicare will reduce reimbursements to hospitals with high 30-day readmission rates -- which refers to patients who return within a month -- by as much as 1 percent. The maximum penalty increases to 2 percent the following year and 3 percent in 2014. Doctors are concerned the penalty is unfair, since sometimes they have to accept patients more than once in a brief period of time but could be penalized for doing so -- even for accepting seniors who are sick. "Among patients with heart failure, hospitals that have higher readmission rates actually have lower mortality rates," said Sunil Kripalani, MD, a professor with Vanderbilt University Medical Center who studies hospital readmissions. "So, which would we rather have -- a hospital readmission or a death?"But according to federal government figures, nearly one in five Medicare patients is readmitted to a hospital within 30 days of release, costing taxpayers an estimated $17.5 billion. "Readmissions has been a low-hanging fruit for Medicare," said Jordan Rau, a staff writer with KHN, an editorially independent program of the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation. "They've been very unhappy that about 2 million Medicare beneficiaries are being readmitted every year between 30 days of discharge." . . . But physicians debate whether readmission rates are the best measure of outcomes.Kripalani and some other physicians are concerned that readmissions-based penalties may have a disproportionate effect on research hospitals because they handle large numbers of complex cases. . . .


Pat Caddell: Obama "has been the most negative personal campaigner in the oval office -- ever, ever"

On Sean Hannity's show Pat Caddell, a pollster for Jimmy Carter, had this to say:
Let me tell you what's really bad, Sean. The president is running the real risk, every time you keep lowering the standard, breaking tradition -- this is Chicago politics. We don't care, we are going to disrupt your convention. For all the times we have had conventions, we have honored the idea in politics, you have yours, we have ours; then we engage a campaign. They're taking down all of this, just like the president's campaign; he has been the most negative personal campaigner in the oval office -- ever, ever.  You know what?  Winning matters more and that's what he is risking.

Labels: , ,

Illinois prosecutor will not prosecute people over carrying concealed handguns

This is not exactly a very populous county with 170,556, but it still provides something to keep track of in testing for the impact of changes in right-to-carry laws.  From the Illinois Pantagraph:
. . . Author and American University law professor Angela Davis said Wednesday that prosecutors have "absolute discretion" to decide whether to pursue charges. She says what's unusual is that McLean County State's Attorney Ronald Dozier is making a public announcement. 
Dozier says he thinks the state law barring people from carrying concealed guns is unconstitutional. He hopes his policy against prosecuting harmless violations will send a message to Illinois lawmakers.  
Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez, president of the Illinois State's Attorneys Association, says Dozier is entitled to his opinion about the law but she will continue to fully enforce the law. . . .



Prison cell and facilities in Norway

Here is a Swedish discussion of what life is like in Norway.  Deterrence wouldn't seem to be as great for this prison as it might for some other ones (e.g., Mexico).

UPDATE November 9, 2012: Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik is apparently upset with his prison conditions.

Anders Behring Breivik, serving a 21-year sentence for killing 77 people, has complained that he is being held in inhumane conditions and is being denied freedom of expression.
His lawyer Tord Jordet says Breivik wrote in a letter to prison officials that he has not been given the possibility of expressing political opinions and is not allowed to read every letter addressed to him in the prison. . . .

Labels: ,

Obama: "You Can't Just Make Stuff Up. That's Something That You Learn As President."

Is Obama serious?  Where does one start on his obviously false claims that the media never calls him on?  From Obama's brief press conference on August 20th:
So the contrast I think is pretty stark.  They can run the campaign that they want, but the truth of the matter is you can't just make stuff up.  That's one thing you learn as President of the United States.  You get called into account.  . . .
This statement from Jake Tapper might explain why he gets away with this:
"I have said before -- I said that I thought the media helped tip the scales. I don't think the coverage in 2008 was especially fair to either Hillary Clinton or John McCain.  Sometimes I saw with story selection, magazine covers, photos picked, you know, campaign narrative, it wasn’t always the fairest coverage and I hope that doesn't happen again." 
Chuck Todd seems to agree in explaining the coverage of the abortion debate instead of the economy:
Well, this is a chicken and egg conversation. This is a distraction. I don’t think it’s a distraction you can quote, blame on the media on this one. It’s not media bias, it’s media, it’s what they’re covering, and the fact is we are under-covering the economy, we are under-covering -- but you cover the campaign that is in front of you. . . . 

Labels: ,

University of Colorado physics professor cancels classes if he finds out that there is a permitted concealed handgun in the class

This professor strikes me as kind of crazy.  Is he really afraid of going off of campus?  I doubt it.   Does he have any evidence that permit holders pose a danger to himself or others?  No.  From the Denver Post:
CU physics professor Jerry Peterson — speaking for himself Monday, not the faculty group he leads — said he wants his students to feel safe to engage in classroom discussions that could be controversial.
"My own personal policy in my classes is if I am aware that there is a firearm in the class — registered or unregistered, concealed or unconcealed — the class session is immediately canceled," Peterson said. "I want my students to feel unconstrained in their discussions." . . .

Labels: ,


$500,000 in Stimulus funds used to fund Ads on MSNBC?

Talk about stimulus funds being used for political benefits.  What is the job creating argument that can be made for this?  Notice also that the ads didn't run on Fox News, so it looks like the Obama administration is funneling money to their political supporters.  From the Washington Times (Jim McElhatton, "Labor Department spends stimulus funds for ads during Olbermann, Maddow shows," August 21):
Spending reports under the federal Recovery Act show $495,000 paid to McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations LLC, which the Labor Department hired to raise awareness “among employers and influencers about the [Job Corps] program’s existing and new training initiatives in high growth and environmentally friendly career areas” as well as spreading the word to prospective Job Corps enrollees. 
Ultimately, the firm negotiated ad buys for “two approved spots” airing 14 times per week for two months on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” and “The Rachel Maddow Show,” according to a project report, which listed the number zero under a section of the report asking how many jobs had been created through the stimulus contract. . . . 
Labor Department research showed advertisements would reach the target demographic of business owners and managers interested in hiring “green trained” employees through a programming list that initially also included shows hosted by CNN’s Larry King and public television’s Jim Lehrer, as well as the two MSNBC programs where the ads eventually appeared. 
But public television was eliminated because advertising rates were too high, according Labor officials. And Larry King was dropped because MSNBC held the potential to reach more viewers, officials said. Officials gave no indication whether their research indicated if Fox News, ESPN or other cable outlets were considered for the Job Corps ads. . . .
UPDATE: Washington Times August 30th:
A House panel is calling on the U.S. Department of Labor to turn over all records involving a half-million dollar contract funded through President Obama’s $831 billion stimulus program that paid for more than 100 commercials on MSNBC touting a “green jobs” initiative. . . . . 
But spending reports showed that no jobs were created through the contract. The Washington Times first reported on the contract earlier this month, quoting one taxpayer watchdog who questioned not only the lack of jobs but why the commercials aired only on MSNBC, considered the most liberal of the major cable news outlets. 
Republican leaders on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which oversees the Labor Department, are raising similar questions in a recent letter they sent to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. 
The letter, signed by Reps. John Kline of Minnesota, chairman of the committee, and Phil Roe of Tennessee, who chairs the panel’s subcommittee on health, employment, labor and pension issues, seeks all documents and communications concerning the public relations contract, as well as a list of dates, attendees and topics for any meetings between Labor officials and the public relations firm concerning the “public relations strategy.” 
“We understand this contract used taxpayer dollars purchase advertisements on MSNBC during ‘Countdown with Keith Olbermann’ and ‘The Rachel Maddow Show,’” the lawmakers wrote.  . . . .

Labels: , ,

The reason that Obama chooses to do interviews with local media: He can tell them what to ask questions about

For a local reporter to get an interview with the president must be pretty heady stuff.  There are so many local reporters and so much competition that at least a few are willing to agree to almost anything for an interview.  I also seem to remember that local reporters who have asked Obama tough questions have been told that they will never get another interview.  From the White House Dosser:
The White House is doing something with its local TV interviews that it could not easily get away with in encounters with the White House press corps, which President Obama has been studiously ignoring: choosing the topic about which President Obama and the reporter will talk. 
In interviews with three local TV stations Monday, two from states critical to Obama’s reelection effort, Obama held forth on the possibility of “sequestration” if he and Congress fail to reach a budget deal, allowing him to make his favorite political point that Republicans are willing to cause grievous harm to the economy and jobs in order to protect the rich from tax increases. 
Obama Monday threw the White House press corps a bone by suddenly appearing in the briefing room for 22 minutes and taking questions from a total of four reporters. It was his first press conference at the White House – albeit in miniature – since March, and only his second of the year. Obama before Monday had taken exactly one substantive question from White House reporters since June. 
But the three other interviews Obama also held Monday pointed to the advantage he gets by focusing on local press, with whom he has been speaking more regularly. . . .

Labels: , , ,

Sikh Temple of Wisconsin was another gun-free zone

From Fox News:
The president of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin had only a butter knife on hand, which he used to fight the gunman. He was killed, but his heroic actions were credited for slowing the shooter. Guns were not allowed in the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. 
“No guns [were] allowed in the temple,” Kulbir Singh, an attendee of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, told FoxNews.com. “Everyone knows that it’s not allowed, anywhere in the temple.” . . .

Labels: ,

Phoenix city government stops religious charity from giving out free water in 112 degree heat

Remember the woman who was fined $50,000+ for giving food to the poor?  Now, despite 112 degree heat, we have a case where a Phoenix woman was ordered not to give water to people because she lacked a permit.  Dana Crow-Smith, Christian proselytizer, hoped that when people got the free water they might also talk to her about religion.  From ABC 15 in Phoenix:
The City of Phoenix could face a lawsuit if the city doesn’t apologize to a Valley woman for telling her she could not hand out free bottled water to people in the summer heat. 
Dana Crow-Smith said a City of Phoenix worker came up to her during the First Friday festival in downtown Phoenix last month and told her she was violating city code by handing out free water because she did not have a permit. 
Crow-Smith and a group of others were there exercising their Christian beliefs by engaging people to talk about religion if they wanted. 
The group brought several cases of bottled water to give away in the 112-degree heat, but said a Neighborhood Preservation Inspector told the group they had to stop handing out the water or would be cited. 
“It was really hot and yeah we wanted to show God's love and a small act of kindness is a great way to do that without shoving it down someone's throat,” said Crow-Smith. . . . .



Sword-wielding man shot by clerk at Dairy Queen identified

From the Las Vegas Sun-Journal:

The man who was allegedly wielding a sword during an attempted robbery at a central valley Dairy Queen when he was fatally shot by a store clerk Sunday afternoon was identified Monday by the Clark County coroner's office as 36-year-old Bongkuk Pak. 
The coroner's office said Pak, whose city of residence was unknown, died from gunshot wounds to his torso. 
Also Monday, Las Vegas police announced they have arrested a woman they say is Pak's accomplice. 
Carol Matteo, 47, was booked Sunday on charges of robbery with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary. Police said Matteo dropped off Pak at the Dairy Queen at 2595 S. Maryland Parkway, near Sahara Avenue. 
Pak, wearing a mask, then tried to rob the restaurant with a sword, police said. A clerk shot and killed him. He died at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. . . .


Washington Post Blog nails Obama on false statements during his press conference today

From the Washington Post:
“I don’t think that Gov. Romney is somehow responsible for the death of the woman who is portrayed in that ad,” the president told the White House press corps when asked about a controversial ad . . . . ”But keep in mind this is an ad that I didn’t approve, I did not produce, and as far as I can tell, has barely run.”
The man featured in the ad has also appeared on an Obama campaign conference call, but Obama’s team has denied knowledge of his story.
Obama also distanced himself from criticism of Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, saying, “Nobody accused Romney of being a felon.” Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter suggested earlier this year that the Republican nominee “may have committed a felony.”
Possibly the piece could have made it clear that the Obama campaign conference call mentioned the same claims that were in the disputed campaign ad.  Yahoo News has this:
"I don't know the facts about when Mr. Soptic's wife got sick, or the facts about his health insurance," deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter told CNN on Wednesday. 
But there's a problem. As Politico first reported, Soptic told essentially the same story in a May 14, 2012, conference call hosted by the Obama campaign. Here's what he said then, according to a partial recording of the call passed along by a Republican official:
"After we lost our jobs, we found out that we were going to lose our health insurance, and that our pensions hadn't been funded like Bain promised they would be. I was lucky to find another job as a custodian in a local school district. They gave me some health insurance, but I couldn't afford to buy it for my wife. A little while later she was diagnosed with lung cancer. I had to put her in a county hospital because she didn't have health care, and when the cancer took her away, all I got was an enormous bill. That put a lot of stress on me: I thought I'd be paying it off until I died myself. That probably wouldn't have happened if Bain kept its promise and I was allowed to keep our health insurance. . . ." 


No surprise here: Obama leads gov employees by 17 points, Romney leads entrepreneurs by 20

I am surprised that even more government employees aren't voting in their immediate self interest on this one.  Rasmussen finds:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that among those who are self-employed or own their own business, Mitt Romney enjoys a 20-point lead. Fifty-six percent (56%) favor Romney, and 36% prefer the president.
The president, by contrast, enjoys a 17-point lead among government employees. Among those on the public payroll, the president leads 54% to 37%. . . .

Labels: ,

The Media's strange coverage of shooting at Family Research Council

So why wasn't there the nonstop coverage of the Family Research Council shooting?  From The Hill Newspaper:
The head of the Family Research Council accused the media Monday of ignoring the shooting last week at the group's Washington headquarters because "it doesn't fit the storyline." 
“It was stunning that most of the coverage, with the exceptions of just a few reports I saw over the weekend, were from Fox,” said Tony Perkins, the head of the conservative organization, in an appearance with the network. 
Perkins went on to say other networks "ignored" the shooting — which wounded a security guard — because it broke with their preferred narrative. 
“I think the reason is, it doesn’t fit the storyline,” Perkins said. “You know, it’s supposed to be conservatives who are angry, who are filled with hate. And that’s not the case.” 
Authorities charged Floyd Corkins of Virginia last week with the shooting of the security guard. According to The Associated Press, Corkins was carrying Chick-fil-A sandwiches and ammunition in his backpack when he entered the organization's lobby; the Family Research Council has opposed gay marriage, as has the fast-food chain's president, Dan Cathy. . . .
The Media Research Center has this:
Neither NBC Nightly News nor CBS Evening News produced a full story on the FRC shooting, instead committing only 17 and 20 seconds respectively for anchor briefs that omitted the shooter’s motive. Only ABC World News produced a full report on this politically motivated act of violence. . . .
and this:
CNN's Brooke Baldwin couldn't find a motive behind the Family Research Council shooting, on Thursday afternoon – despite CNN having earlier reported that "politics" was involved in the shooting at the conservative organization.
"You know, who knows what really was the motive behind this particular individual Floyd Lee Corkins?" Baldwin wondered at 3:10 p.m. EDT, even though anchor Suzanne Malveaux stated at 1:31 p.m. EDT, "Witnesses say that Floyd Lee Corkins walked into the conservative group's headquarters, told the security guard 'I don't like your politics,' and then shot him in the arm." . . .
and this:
Even after the shooting of a security guard at the Family Research Council, the Huffington Post can’t stop slamming the pro-family organization as a “hate group.” The Huffington Post waited less than 3 hours before publishing an article which complained about “the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center deems a hate group.” . . .

Labels: , , ,

Obama lashes out at decisions made by his campaign, Joe Biden, and WH coordination with Chicago HQ

Politico has a new book out that the Obama campaign may have wished came out later.  Could one imagine the response if Romney had referred to Obama in a discussion as "your boy"?

Obama is sometimes portrayed as a reluctant warrior, sorry to see 2012 marked by so much partisan warfare but forced by circumstance to go along. But this perception is by most evidence untrue. In the interviews with current and former Obama aides, not one said he expressed any reservations about the negativity. He views it as a necessary part of campaigning, as a natural — if unpleasant — rotation of the cyclical political wheel.
Obama’s trash-talking competitiveness, a trait that has defined him since his days on the court as a basketball-obsessed teenager in Hawaii, was on display one night last February, when the president spotted a woman he knew was close to Sen. Marco Rubio in a Florida hotel lobby. “Is your boy going to go for [vice president]?” the president asked her. Maybe, she replied.
“Well,” he said, chuckling, according to a person who witnessed the encounter. “Tell your boy to watch it. He might get his ass kicked.” . . .
How many times has the Obama administration been claiming that the recovery is just around the corner.
in his mind, that Romney will get to take a victory lap on an economic rebound Obama sees as just around the corner. “I’m not going to let him win … so that he can take credit when the economy turns around,” Obama said, according to an aide. . . . . 
I also thought that Obama was saying that things weren't going to be getting better because the House Republicans weren't passing the big government spending bills that Obama wants.

Labels: , , ,

Poland has adopted austerity with a vengeance, but its economy has done very well

Sherwin and I had a piece a little while ago that showed how well Poland has done, but it is nice to see others recognizing that also.  The Economist magazine just published this: "The economy is slowing but it is still the fastest-growing among big EU countries."

Labels: , ,


"The Mormon Way of Doing Business"


$50,000+ fine for woman giving out free food to those in need

A woman with three kids of her own who also takes care of foster kids and runs a basketball program for neighborhood kids is being fined over $50,000 for giving out free food to others.  Good thing the government is there to make it a crime to give out free food to those who want it.

A woman may be fined $600 for each day she provided free food to children in a poor Philadelphia neighborhood for the past few months.Angela Prattis, 41, of Chester Township has been distributing free healthy lunches in a neighborhood that has a per capita income of $19,000 a year.Prattis made no money from the meal distribution, and gave out food provided by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The “lunch lady” ran the charity out of her garage, to which about 60 children came, five days a week.After the city council was alerted of the free lunches, it ruled that she would have to acquire a variance to give away food next summer – or pay a fine of $600 a day. The council considers Prattis’ deed a zoning violation. Three months of distributing food would instigate a fine of more than $50,000.“It’s not like I’m selling food,” she objected. “These kids are hungry. I’m not tearing down the community. I’m keeping the children out of harm’s way,” she said in a Fox News interview.But a variance to distribute food would also be costly. Administrative fees for a variance would cost up to $1,000.“You have houses here. The roofs are falling in, and they could be focused on a lot more serious issues than me feeding children,” Prattis said in response to the city council’s ruling. . . .
An update from Fox News:
A Pennsylvania woman has vowed to continue doling out free lunches to children in her hardscrabble neighborhood, even though officials there have threatened to fine her $600 a day.
Angela Prattis, 41, was ordered by the Chester Township Council to wind down the makeshift dining room she runs in the driveway of her modest home during the summer for the hungry kids who come to her daily in search of a good meal. Under pressure from the community, the local leaders agreed to let Prattis finish her mission this summer, but told her she would need a zoning variance to resume the operation next summer.
"I'm going to continue to feed the children," Prattis told FoxNews.com. "I'm just doing this for the kids. I don't want a big fight. . . . 
A video news report is available from Fox News here.

Labels: , ,

Natalie Wolchover and her inaccurate "news story" for LiveScience.com

Ms. Natalie Wolchover contacted me late in the afternoon on Monday, July 23 for her piece for LiveScience.com entitled: "Could Concealed Handguns Have Prevented the Colo. Shooting?"  Her piece was largely an evaluation of my research, but apparently didn't think that it was necessary to send more than an email less than a couple hours before she posted her piece.  After the Aurora, Colorado attack on Friday, July 20th, that following Monday was fairly busy.  She also didn't interview anyone else who had also shown that right-to-carry laws had reduced violent crime rates.  The third edition of my book More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010) provided an extensive discussion of this research.  A recent paper by myself in the University of Maryland Law Review also provided a list of the research in this debate.  One of my studies on multiple victim public shootings with Bill Landes is available here.

For a piece that focuses so heavily on criticizing my research, one would think that she would give me more time to respond, and I had responded to her on the evening of July 23rd.  But Ms. Wolchover obviously had no intention of waiting for a response from me.  Her 660 word piece was obviously not written and then go through editing between when she emailed me and when the piece appeared.  Her claim that "Lott did not respond to requests for comment" was thus false on multiple counts.  First, she is dishonest about "requests."  She sent only one email.  Second, as noted, despite the piece being about my work, she had no intention of giving me the time to respond.

Wolchover claims: "Although Lott's work still gets cited by the National Rifle Association and others as evidence in favor of greater gun freedom, the research "was found to be substantially flawed . . . ." Yet, she  ignores all the academic research noted above that also favorably cites my research.

Her other false claims are dealt with in my book More Guns, Less Crime.

Labels: ,