Senator Rubio says border security "linchpin" of immigration bill, problem is with how we measure border security

The video is available here.
Hannity: "When are we going to get the border secure for sure?"
Rubio: ". . . It doesn't just say you can come up with a plan but not do it.  You have to substantially complete that plan.  You have a fence plan, it has to be substantially completed.  You have to have a border plan, it has to be substantially completed."

A copy of the original bill and that amended by the Senate judiciary committee is available here and here.  The minor problem in my reading of this bill is that it calls for a "strategy [to be] established," though at other times it does say "If the Secretary certifies that the Department has not achieved effective control . . . ."  The "commission" that is set up if the 90 percent rate isn't certified merely says: the commission must set "forth specific recommendations for policies for achieving and maintaining."   Setting forth plans is a lot different than saying those plans are met.  In any case, the big problem is how the "effectiveness rate" is measured.  I have an op-ed piece that will hopefully be coming out next week that explains that the "total number of illegal entries," which is the number of apprehensions and turn backs plus counted successful crossings.  The problem is that counted successful crossings, only gets a tiny fraction of actual crossings.

Some parts of the bill that came out of the Senate Judiciary committee.

COMPREHENSIVE SOUTHERN BORDER SECURITY STRATEGY.—The term ‘‘Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy’’ means the strategy established by the Secretary pursuant to section 5(a) to achieve and maintain an effectiveness rate of 90 percent or higher in all high risk border sectors.
(3) EFFECTIVE CONTROL.—The term ‘‘effective control’’ means the ability to achieve and maintain, in a Border Patrol sector—
(A) persistent surveillance; and
(B) an effectiveness rate of 90 percent or higher.
(4) EFFECTIVENESS RATE.—The ‘‘effectiveness rate’’, in the case of a border sector, is the percentage calculated by dividing the number of apprehensions and turn backs in the sector during a fiscal year by the total number of illegal entries in the sector during such fiscal year. . . .

If the Secretary certifies that the Department has not achieved effective control in all high risk border sectors during any fiscal year beginning before the date that is 5 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, not later than 60 days after such certification, there shall be established a commission to be known as the ‘‘Southern Border Security Commission’’ (referred to in this section as the ‘‘Commission’’). . . .

REPORT.—Not later than 180 days after the end of the 5-year period described in subsection (a), the Commission shall submit to the President, the Secretary, and Congress a report setting forth specific recommendations for policies for achieving and maintaining the border security goals specified in subsection (c). The report shall include, at a minimum, recommendations for the personnel, infrastructure, technology, and other resources required to achieve and maintain an effectiveness rate of 90 percent or higher in all high risk border sectors. 
The Judiciary Committee amendments are available here.


People become more religious and stay religious when they face more dangers in war

The old saying that "There are no atheists in foxholes" seems to be true.  Being in the military during war causes people to be more religious and to stay that way and the effect is occurs for who had the most difficult experiences.  From Science20:
. . . But does war really transform people, or does it simply make the fleetingly religious more so for a short time? A recent analysis of archived surveys of Army Infantry soldiers after a battle -  Samuel Stouffer's "The American Soldier" World War II  research (1) - found self-reported reliance on prayer rose from 42% to 72% as that battle got more intense.

"The question is whether that reliance on faith lasts over time," said Craig Wansink, author and Professor of Religion at Virginia Wesleyan College, who did the analysis and co-wrote the paper with his brother Brian Wansink, food marketing expert and Professor of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. The World War II generation is a good one for analysis because the interest was religiosity long-term and young people in the 1940s were more religious overall than more recent generations.
A second analysis of survey results from 1,123 World War II veterans showed that 50 or more years after combat, most soldiers still exhibited religious behavior, though it varied by their war experience. Those facing heavy combat (versus no combat) attended church 21% more often if they claimed their war experience was negative, but those who claimed their experience was positive attended 26% less often.  . . .

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Another change in Texas' concealed carry law

Talk about a silly restriction that had been on what types of concealed handguns people could carry.  From Fox News:

Texas lawmakers have sent to Gov. Rick Perry a bill that allows concealed handgun license holders to carry a revolver or semi-automatic pistol, regardless of what they trained with on the shooting range. 
Current law certifies license holders to carry only the type of gun they use to get their license. The bill by Sen. Craig Estes, a Wichita Falls Republican, allows them to carry either model.  
Texas has more than 500,000 concealed handgun license holders. Lawmakers have already voted to cut in half the minimum hours of training to get one. . . .


Bill Maher: Gun owner

More on how the Obama administration uses government power to target its political enemies

Nixon may have had his enemies list, but Nixon had nothing on Obama in the number of government agencies that he was willing to use and the lengths that he was willing to go in harming those he disagreed with.  From Investors' Business Daily:
The inexplicable raid nearly two years ago on a guitar maker for using allegedly illegal wood that its competitors also used was another targeting by this administration of its political enemies.
On Aug. 24, 2011, federal agents executed four search warrants on Gibson Guitar Corp. facilities in Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. . . . Gibson was accused of using wood illegally obtained in violation of the century-old Lacey Act, which outlaws trafficking in flora and fauna the harvesting of which had broken foreign laws.
In one raid, the feds hauled away ebony fingerboards, alleging they violated Madagascar law. Gibson responded by obtaining the sworn word of the African island's government that no law had been broken.
In another raid, the feds found materials imported from India, claiming they too moved across the globe in violation of Indian law. Gibson's response was that the feds had simply misinterpreted Indian law.
Interestingly, one of Gibson's leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Co. According to C.F. Martin's catalog, several of their guitars contain "East Indian Rosewood," which is the exact same wood in at least 10 of Gibson's guitars. . . .
Grossly underreported at the time was the fact that Gibson's chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, contributed to Republican politicians. . . .
By contrast, Chris Martin IV, the Martin & Co. CEO, is a long-time Democratic supporter . . .

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Concealed carry law makes progress in Illinois, Democrats again show that they don't trust poor people with guns

Some one please explain to me why Illinois is proposing such an incredibly high $150 concealed handgun permit fee, at least if you have an explanation other than they simply don't want many lower income people to be able to carry handguns.  In addition, what are the incomes of people who are going to use public mass transit?  Sixteen hours of training will be extremely costly, easily costing $400 to $500.  Again, who is most likely to be able to pay that additional fee?  From the Washington Post:
The measure would require Illinois State Police to issue a permit to any applicant who has a Firearm Owners Identification card, completes required training, passes a background check, and pays a $150 fee. But it significantly broadens the places where guns would be prohibited, including mass-transit buses and trains, which was a demand of Chicago Democrats. 
In addition to the Chicago assault-weapons ban, it would pre-empt any city or county gun regulation, such as taxes on gun sales or requirements for reporting lost or stolen guns. Phelps and Madigan argue that it would be best to have one statewide law to reduce confusion and have future restrictions get state legislators' approval in Springfield. . . .
Compare that with the initial permit fees for other states shown in my book More Guns, Less Crime (Illinois will have the highest in the country).  Click on table to make it larger.

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Collection of cartoons on the recent gun control debate

This is a pretty depressing collection of cartoons as they virtually all take the pro-gun control side (available here).  The problem here is that the ideas are "background checks good" and "ban bad guns."  No discussion about how virtually everyone stopped is a law-abiding citizen.  No discussion of who is bearing the costs of these background checks.  For some of the finer points missed out in these cartoons see here and here.


IRS targets families adopting children for special investigations

From Fox News:

The Internal Revenue Service mishandled tax returns of adoptive families, flagging for further review 90 percent of those who claimed the adoption tax credit for the 2012 filing season. And a report by the federal agency’s Taxpayer Advocate Service also found that nearly 70 percent of adoptive families — more than 35,000 — had at least a partial audit of their tax return. By contrast, just one percent of all returns are audited. 
"The IRS's misguided procedures, and its failure to adequately adjust these processes when it learned its approach was seriously flawed, have caused significant economic harm to thousands of families who are selflessly trying to improve the lives of vulnerable children," according to the report. . . .


Obama's fourth scandal: Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius using her position to force those she regulates to give money to Obama campaign

Using the threat of regulation to force those being regulated to give money to Obama sure sounds like thuggish behavior.  I suppose that Obama will again claim ignorance of this, but Sebelius has gotten in trouble before on these issues.  He might claim outrage, but he didn't publicly reprimand her earlier.  From The Hill newspaper:

House Republicans have widened their probe of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius by asking the country's largest health insurers for information on her fundraising for a nonprofit group promoting ObamaCare. 
Leaders on the Energy and Commerce Committee said Friday they have written to 15 insurance companies and other groups asking whether Sebelius had contacted them to solicit funds for ObamaCare's implementation.  
Companies should hand over any internal communications that document conversations with Sebelius or discussions about her request, including emails, lawmakers wrote.  
The Sebelius probe began when news broke that she was petitioning major healthcare players to contribute to Enroll America, a group tasked with educating the public about its new health coverage options under healthcare reform.  
Republicans have denounced the effort as a "shakedown" that will line the pockets of Obama supporters and former administration officials now working to promote the Affordable Care Act. . . .

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Democrats support Lois Lerner taking the fifth, covering up IRS scandal

From The Hill newspaper:

Key Democrats say Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner didn't give up her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination by giving an opening statement at a House hearing on Wednesday.
Democrats on the Oversight panel said they want Lerner to testify about the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, and are not defending her decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment. . . .
The Democrats' position is a politically delicate one, as they are backing the Constitutional rights of an IRS official who is in the middle of a highly charged firestorm. . . .


More than 100 "Conservative" Economists Urge Immigration Overhaul? I don't think so.

A letter released by 109 economists urges Congress to pass a sweeping immigration overhaul, claiming that it will help the economy and reduce the deficit.  It has been getting some attention at the WSJ and Politico.  I am dubious that they are right.  But what is clear is that not all these signers are "conservatives" by any means.
Take June O’Neill, who served as OMB director for President Clinton.   
John Makin may be at AEI, but I know him and he is a Keynesian economist.
Note also some of the mistakes.  Steven Davis from the University of Chicago and Davis Steven from the University of Chicago are obviously the same person (I do know the real Steven Davis).  John Makin  at AEI is listed twice.  The 109 number removes these two double counting from the total.  Compare that to the 353 who signed a letter supporting McCain in 2008 or the 784 who supported Mitt Romney.  Here are nine economists who signed the immigration letter but who did not sign the letter supporting Romney (the six in italics signed the letter for McCain, though many more didn't sign the letter for McCain).
Antony Davies, Duquesne University 
James Forcier, Hult International Business School 
K.C. Fung, University of California, Santa Cruz 
William Gissy, KIMEP University 
Claudio Gonzalez-Vega, Ohio State University 
Stuart Hoffman, PNC Financial Services Group 
Philip Rothman, East Carolina University 
Scott Sumner, Bentley University 
William Trumbull, West Virginia University 



Government says "may be impossible" to stop 3D printing of guns

At the very least, how do you stop drug gangs from smuggling in or stealing 3D printers?  From Fox News:
A new Department of Homeland Security intelligence bulletin warns it could be "impossible" to stop 3D-printed guns from being made, not to mention getting past security checkpoints. . . .
The guns threaten to render 3D gun control efforts useless if their manufacture becomes more widespread.
"Significant advances in three-dimensional (3D) printing capabilities, availability of free digital 3D printer files for firearms components, and difficulty regulating file sharing may present public safety risks from unqualified gun seekers who obtain or manufacture 3D printed guns," warns the bulletin compiled by the Joint Regional Intelligence Center. . . .
"Limiting access may be impossible," concludes the three-page bulletin.
A source tells FoxNews.com the potential problems faced by government authorities involve securing large, high-profile events or those attended by the President, where magnetometers used to screen for weapons would not pick up a 3D printed gun.
"This is a serious threat," the law enforcement source said. "These could defeat magnetometers. The only security procedure to catch [the 3D firearms] is a pat down. Is America ready for pat-downs at every event?" . . .
Printers are relatively inexpensive:
The price range of 3D Systems printers ranges from $10k to $750k. The average would be ~$380k. But the median is much lower <$100k. . . .
More importantly, prices look to be falling dramatically very soon.
Widespread adoption of 3D printing technology may not be that far away, according to a Gartner report predicting that enterprise-class 3D printers will be available for less than $2,000 by 2016. . . .
How are you going to stop people from getting 3D printers when the prices get that low?  The hard part is designing the file, but that has apparently been done, with one already created file downloaded 100,000 times.

In any case, let me note that I still have some skepticism about these plastic guns.  The force from the explosion of the bullet seems very likely to risk having the plastic gun explode in your hands, sending shrapnel all over the place.  My advice is if you were to fire one of these guns, make sure that you are heavily protected.  I would still like to have some third party confirm that this gun works.

UPDATE: My skepticism about how safe this is has some support from some recent tests in Australia.  From Gizmodo:
Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione called a press conference today after the NSW Police Force concluded its experiments with 3D printable weapons, including The Liberator. The boffins over at the NSW Police bought themselves a 3D printer for $1700 and decided to test how easy it would be to build their own gun. They downloaded the blueprints for The Liberator from the internet and printed out two weapons to test fire. 
All in all, they printed the 15 parts required to assemble The Liberator in 27 hours and assembled it within 60 seconds with a firing pin fashioned out of a steel nail. The two guns were test fired into a block of resin designed to simulate human muscle, and the first bullet penetrated the resin block up to 17 centimetres. NSW Police Ballistics division confirm that it would be a fatal wound if pointed at someone. 
What’s interesting about the second device they tested, however, was the “catastrophic failure” of the weapon. Translation? It exploded. The plastic gave way to the brutal force of an exploding .38 caliber bullet and the barrel exploded. . . .
These guns have a history "to fall apart or degrade after repeated use." 

UPDATE: Printing can be done with metal, not just plastic.

UPDATE: Senator Schumer, Rep. Israel, and California state Senator Yee are all pushing gun control laws to deal with 3D printing.  Israel's proposal would license those who make ammunition magazines. According to the Boston Globe, Yee's proposal could include the registration of 3D printers.  Schumer's actions are discussed here.  More of a discussion is available here.

The Digital Journal has this proposal:
Solutions? Trying to censor the internet will be a failure, it is simply not possible for one regulator body to control such a vast network. However, the streets can be safer by imposing regulations on retail 3D printers. These include price fixings making the printers unaffordable for the average consumer, but as well requiring licensing and strict regulations for ownership.
From the New York Times:
Mr. Israel’s bill represents a form of gun control that the N.R.A. could actually support. Not because the Constitution remains silent on the question of printers, but because current manufacturers might not love the idea of new technology messing with their bottom line.
Other information by Ashley Feinberg is available here.


Woman, threatened with rape, calls 911 only to be told: "there are no officers on duty to help her"

It sounds as if this woman should have invested in buying herself a gun.  From the UK Daily Mail:

A terrified woman from Josephine County, Oregon, dialed 911 to report that her violent ex-boyfriend is trying to break into her home, but in response she was told that there are no officers on duty to help her.  . . .
Eventually, the crazed man forced his way into the house, choked his former girlfriend and raped her without no one there to stop him.The suspect, Michael Bellah, was later arrested and pleaded guilty to kidnapping, assault and sex abuse. . . .  
The woman explained that her ex-boyfriend, Michael Bellah, had put her in the hospital just weeks prior, and she has been trying to keep him away. . . .  
'Uh, I don’t have anybody to send out there. You know, obviously, if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away? Do you know if he’s intoxicated or anything?' the officer, who identified himself as Ray, told the caller.  
The woman explained that she has already asked Bellah to leave and warned him that she was going to call police, but that did nothing to stop him from trying to break down the door - something he had done in the past, according to the girlfriend. . . .
The solution pushed by this news article is that the county should have voted for higher taxes.  Of course, a lot can happen even in 15 or 20 minutes. 

UPDATE:  Megan Kelley has the audio available here.

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Dramatic story of how even the simplest medical devices require government approval

Someone please explain to me why it was necessary to get government approval for a simple tube that allowed this baby to breathe.  Fortunately, it was possible to clear this quickly, but why did they have to go through this process at all?  From Fox News:
. . . In the case of Kaiba Gionfriddo, doctors didn't have a moment to spare. Because of a birth defect, the little Ohio boy's airway kept collapsing, causing his breathing to stop and often his heart, too. Doctors in Michigan had been researching artificial airway splints but had not implanted one in a patient yet.In a single day, they "printed out" 100 tiny tubes, using computer-guided lasers to stack and fuse thin layers of plastic instead of paper and ink to form various shapes and sizes. 
The next day, with special permission from the Food and Drug Administration, they implanted one of these tubes in Kaiba, the first time this has been done. . . .


Will Democrats blow up the Senate to make it easier to confirm executive branch nominees?

From Politico:
But it’s clear the majority leader wants to get something done and find 51 Democrats to support an unprecedented move to employ the so-called nuclear option — changing the rules so executive branch nominees can no longer be blocked by filibusters requiring 60 votes to break.Judicial nominees and legislation would very likely still face a 60-vote threshold on filibusters. . . .
I have a new book coming out next month, "Dumbing Down the Courts," that ironically shows that Obama has had a relatively easy time getting executive branch nominees confirmed.

An article in the LA Times makes this threat of rule changes all the more explicit:

Senate leaders had considered holding a vote this week to confirm Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a nomination Republicans have maintained they would filibuster unless the Obama administration agreed to overhaul the agency. . . . 
Action is also pending on two of Obama’s Cabinet nominations — Thomas E. Perez for Labor secretary and Gina McCarthy for EPA administrator — after party-line votes in Senate committees last week. Two other Cabinet picks face confirmation hearings later this week. 
At his weekly news conference, Reid told reporters that he would not bring those nominations to the full Senate until after it considers two major pieces of legislation, the farm bill and comprehensive immigration reform. 
“So we'll have to look at July,” he said, with the possible exception of a pending nominee for the D.C. Court of Appeals. “We're going to make sure that all the nominees have votes.” 
Reid declined to discuss further changes to the Senate’s filibuster rules Tuesday. But in recent weeks he has been ratcheting up pressure on Republicans over what he has called “blanket, partisan obstruction” of executive agency choices. . . .
The New York Times from May 16th adds this:
. . . Gina McCarthy, Mr. Obama’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, and Thomas E. Perez, the nominee to be secretary of labor, were approved in committee with only Democratic votes. Their nominations now go before the full Senate, where they face likely Republican filibusters. 
The threat of further Republican attempts to thwart the president’s ability to assemble his second-term cabinet has increased the likelihood of a fight over the Senate’s rules, which allow the minority party to insist on a 60-vote threshold for almost every Senate action. . . . 
Republicans insist they are standing in the way of nominees who merit more scrutiny and pointed to the advancement of two more Obama administration choices on Thursday: Sri Srinivasan, whose unanimous approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee sends him to the full Senate for confirmation to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and Ernest J. Moniz, the president’s pick for energy secretary, who was confirmed on a 97-to-0 vote by the full Senate on Thursday afternoon. . . .
Moniz is fairly radical guy and yet he got through without much trouble.



Handgun ban in the UK apparently didn't stop two terrorists there from getting guns

It took around 20 minutes for police to arrive on the scene after the terrorists attacked the soldier in London.  Apparently the terrorists were able to get guns. Will the British be willing to allow the gun laws that were in place up until 1920?  Of course, Britain's murder rate was much lower back then, but I assume that people will condemn the idea of this "primitive" solution to this threat.  From the UK Telegraph:
In the first terrorist murder on the British mainland since the 7/7 suicide bombings of 2005, the men attempted to behead the soldier, hacking at him like a “piece of meat” in front of dozens of witnesses, before both were shot by police who took around 20 minutes to arrive. . . . 
Speaking with a London accent, holding a knife and a meat cleaver and with his hands dripping with blood, he said:  . . .  
“We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you. Do you think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns? Do you think your politicians are going to die?" . . . 
There were also questions over why it took around 20 minutes for armed police to arrive on the scene, during which time the killers calmly walked up and down the road, carrying their bloodied knives and a pistol, while members of the public confronted them.
When police did arrive, both gunmen tried to rush at the police and were shot, reportedly by a female officer. . . .

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Washington Post has a hard time believing that Obama didn't know about the IRS investigation before he claims that he did

Ed Rogers writes in the Washington Post:
My personal favorite of all the new revelations from the Obama IRS scandal is that White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler told White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough about the impending IRS inspector general report, but of course the White House chief of staff did not tell the president. 
I sat in a White House chief of staff’s office every day for more than two years. Theonly reason the legal counsel would tell the chief of staff about an impending report or disclosure would be so the chief of staff could tell the president. The legal counsel would assume the chief of staff would know how and when to bring up the matter. The chief of staff would be expected to know if there were additional factors surrounding the issue that needed to be considered before the president was told, or whether or not others needed to be included in the conversation when the information was shared with the president. There are many valid reasons why the chief of staff would tell the president, but I can’t think of a reason why he and the legal counsel would both agree that this news nugget would go no further. It’s very odd. . . .
When even the Washington Post openly scoffs at Obama's claims to be completely out of the loop on these things you know Obama is in trouble.  My own belief is that things are even worse than this. 

1) The investigation into the IRS scandal was completed in May 2012.
'Just yesterday the committee interviewed Holly Paz, the director of exempt organizations, rulings and agreements, division of the IRS,' Issa said. 'While a tremendous amount of attention is centered about the Inspector General's report, or investigation, the committee has learned from Ms. Paz that she in fact participated in an IRS internal investigation that concluded in May of 2012 - May 3 of 2012 - and found essentially the same thing that Mr. George found more than a year later.' . . . 
2) Since this result was known, why wasn't it fixed? Is it credible that people at the top of Treasury wouldn't know about it?  Is it credible then that the Obama White House wasn't informed?  Surely informed simply to give them a heads up in case the study came to light in the middle of the 2012 presidential campaign.  Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin was told about the IG investigation in 2012.  Surely, he would have also known at that same time that this other investigation had been completed.

If the White House or even senior people at Treasury knew about this investigation that was completed in May 2012, Obama is in real trouble.  It is obvious why Obama wants to pretend that he was out of the loop, but the wall is cracking.


James Rosen's parents were targeting during DOJ probe

From the UK Daily Mail:
The revelations that the Justice Department targeted the emails of a Fox News reporter have become even more disturbing as even his parents were targeted in the probe, documents say. . . .Citing federal documents on Tuesday, Fox News host Bret Baier referred to 'seized phone records that relate to [Rosen's] parents' home in Staten Island.' . . .


Obama administration leaked information to try discrediting Operation Fast and Furious whistleblower

Contrast what Obama administration did with this guy who leaked information to discredit a whistleblower with what the administration is doing to reporters who obtained information that they are less thrilled by getting out.  From the New York Times:
The Justice Department’s independent inspector general on Monday criticized a former top federal prosecutor in Arizona, Dennis K. Burke, for leaking to Fox News a document in June 2011 about a federal agent who was raising alarms about the gun trafficking investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious. He called the prosecutor’s actions “particularly egregious” misconduct that was “wholly unbefitting a U.S. attorney.” 
The 21-page report, by the office of Inspector General Michael Horowitz, filled in new details about the reaction of the Phoenix prosecutor’s office to the furor over a botched investigation into a gun-smuggling network. Arizona-based agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed hundreds of weapons to reach criminal hands. . . . 
The inspector general’s report cites internal e-mails and testimony that show Mr. Burke was “frustrated” at Mr. Dodson’s criticisms . . . .


Five Pennsylvania Universities now allowed concealed carry on campus

Five Pennsylvania universities, Kutztown University, Shippensburg, Edinboro, Slippery Rock, and Millersville, now allowed concealed carry on their campuses (though they are still forbidden inside school buildings).  Republican Governor Tom Corbett made a real difference here.
"A spokesperson for the governor's Office of General Counsel explained that “blanket firearms bans were vulnerable to constitutional challenge and exposed the universities [to legal claims].”"

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Jeff Nugent's support for background checks

I have known Ted Nugent for many years and have recently gotten to know his brother Jeff.  Both are very interesting and smart people who I respect.  But I am writing this note because of Jeff's very disappointing op-ed in the Washington Post.  The op-ed is more a list of feelings and attacks on those who oppose his position than any actual facts.

I believe strongly that expanding and improving mandatory background checks will keep a lot of people who aren’t entitled to Second Amendment rights from having easy access to guns.

Everyone wants to keep criminals from getting guns, but the evidence for background checks effectively doing this is what?  I have seen lots of studies by criminologists and economists, but I don't know any that show that background checks by the federal or state governments have reduced any type of crime rate.

Why would responsible gun owners want to protect people who threaten not only our safety but our gun rights? . . .

Enhanced background checks need not threaten the Second Amendment. Why are the NRA and the elected representatives who support it so slow to realize this? Or do they fear a slippery slope toward greater restrictions on gun rights? If they don’t want to burden a flawed system, they should be part of fixing it.

I oppose expanding background checks, but I would strongly argue against the claim that I "want to protect people who threaten not only our safety but our gun rights." The problem is that virtually everyone who is stopped under the current system is a law-abiding individual.  

If you primarily stop law-abiding citizens who need to get guns quickly for self-defense and not criminals, crime rates can rise, not fall.  

1) It would have been nice if Jeff Nugent had requested that the huge false positive rate with the current background system were fixed.  

2) Suppose that Jeff is right that background checks lower crime rates, everyone should pay for it, not just people who are buying guns.  If everyone benefits from a government policy, everyone should pay for it.

3) The system is supposed to be an "instant" check system.  The Manchin-Toomey bill speeds up checks for gun shows to be done in 48 hours, versus the 72 hours under the current law.  It obtains this 48 hour limit by switching resources from background checks at gun stores and using them for gun shows.  48 hours will still be useless for gun shows because the vast majority only last two days.  If you buy a gun on Saturday morning, the approval process can be delayed until Monday morning.  As it is, my research finds that so-called gun show regulations reduced the number of gun shows in a state by about 20 percent.

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47% of Democrats think the Obama White House either knew about or directed the IRS to go after conservative groups

According to a new Fox News poll, while it isn't too surprising that 63% independents think that the Obama WH either knew about or directed the IRS to go after conservative groups, it is more surprising to see that 47% of Democrats think that.  Indeed, more Democrats think that there is a problem (47%) than think the "White House had absolutely nothing to do with it and knew nothing about it" (41%).  It is interesting that Democrats are also much more trusting of the IRS than either Republicans or Independents. (Click on the above figure to make it larger.)

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Some interesting data on the Federal judiciary

If you are interested in changes in the number of Federal judges or the number of cases, trying going here for the data.  The biographies of Federal judges is available here.  Other data on the history of Federal Appeals courts is available here.


Fox's William La Jeunesse targeted by Obama administration, CBS's Sharyl Attkisson has her computers hacked, could it both be "Fast & Furious"?

The UK Daily Mail has this:
La Jeunesse and Levine were targeted in a separate Department of Justice investigation into leaks related to Operation Fast and Furious, a scandal-plagued DOJ program that sent illicit guns across the Mexican border to drug cartels in the hope of tracing the guns' path to the narcotics gangs.The federal government lost track of the majority of approximately 2,000 firearms that were allowed to cross the southern U.S. border. More than 300 deaths in Mexico, and the death of at least one U.S. Border Patrol agent, were linked to those weapons. La Jeunesse broke stories outlining several key elements of the Fast and Furious scandal. Monday's Inspector General report from the DOJ directly quotes his emails, as well as some from Levine, the Fox News producer.'What we don't know at this point,' Bream reported, 'is if the sources within the Justice Department may have shared those emails with investigators, or if the Fox employees' accounts were directly accessed by investigators. It's simply a question we cannot answer at this point.' . . .
Politico has this story:
Sharyl Attkisson, the Emmy-award winning CBS News investigative reporter, says that her personal and work computers have been compromised and are under investigation.
"I can confirm that an intrusion of my computers has been under some investigation on my end for some months but I'm not prepared to make an allegation against a specific entity today as I've been patient and methodical about this matter," Attkisson told POLITICO on Tuesday. "I need to check with my attorney and CBS to get their recommendations on info we make public."
In an earlier interview with WPHT Philadelphia, Attkisson said that though she did not know the full details of the intrustion, "there could be some relationship between these things and what's happened to James [Rosen]," the Fox News reporter who became the subject of a Justice Dept. investigation after reporting on CIA intelligence about North Korea in 2009. . . . 
Attkisson suggests that the DOJ spying might have been related to what James Rosen was doing.  But what if it is also due to her work on Fast & Furious?   In any case, AP, Fox, and CBS?  Where else does this spying of the media go?  Is anyone going to be willing to give information on Obama administration scandals?

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Unions are finally acknowledging Obama broke his promise that “nothing in this plan will require you to change your coverage or your doctor"

Are unions really that dumb that they couldn't realize that Obama had clearly broken his promise earlier that “nothing in this plan will require you to change your coverage or your doctor"?  Some one needs to ask the unions why they didn't realize this problem until now?  Did they think that the Obama wasn't serious about what he wanted?  Or that Democrats would radically rewrite the law?  From The Hill newspaper:
Labor unions are breaking with President Obama on ObamaCare.
Months after the president’s reelection, a variety of unions are publicly balking at how the administration plans to implement the landmark law. They warn that unless there are changes, the results could be catastrophic.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) — a 1.3 million-member labor group that twice endorsed Obama for president — is very worried about how the reform law will affect its members’ healthcare plans. Last month, the president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers released a statement calling “for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act.”
UNITE HERE, a prominent hotel workers’ union, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are also pushing for changes.
In a new op-ed published in The Hill, UFCW President Joe Hansen homed in on the president’s speech at the 2009 AFL-CIO convention. Obama at the time said union members could keep their insurance under the law, but Hansen writes “that the president’s statement to labor in 2009 is simply not true for millions of workers.” . . .

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An incredible discussion by Fox's "Political Insiders" about the Impact of the Scandals

Pat Caddell is absolutely great as always.  Great insights into what parts of the press the DOJ is investigating.  Also how the head of the IRS union met with Obama the day before they instituted the program to single out conservatives.  Doug Schoen has a good points about more IRS agent and fewer doctors.

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How the White House Scandals have altered the gun control debate

Stewart: Well, congratulations, President Barack Obama.  Conspiracy theorists, who generally can survive in anaerobic environments, have just had an algae bloom dropped on their fucking heads.  Thus removing the last arrow in your pro-governance quiver.  Skepticism about your opponents.  'Gun control. Why can’t we have background checks?' 
Roll tape. 
Cruz: “I believe it would put us inexorably on the path to a national gun registry." 
Stewart: “Oh, right, a national gun registry. And the government is going to overreach and there’s going to be a registry. And the government’s even capable of that kind of overreach. And they’re going to take your guns away from you.” 
CBS news report: “The Internal Revenue Service admitted today that some of its employees targeted conservative political groups.” 
Stewart: “Mother****ers!  This has, in one seismic moment, shifted the burden of proof from the tin-foil-behatted [conservatives] to the government.”

Joe Scarborough:  “I have been saying for months now, and everybody knows this, that I believe in background checks.  I believe that after Newtown, after Chicago, after . . . , we need background checks.  My argument has been: don't worry the government will never create a national registry.  The government is never going to create a national registry. . . .  My argument is less persuasive today because of these scandals.  Because People will say, ‘Hey, if they do this with the IRS, asking people what books you read, then how can I trust them with information about my Second Amendment rights?’  This is devastating, this IRS scandal is devastating.”

Piers Morgan: "I have had some of the pro-gun lobbyists on here saying to me, the reason that we have to be armed is because of tyranny from our own government.  I have always laughed at them.  I have always said don't be ridiculous, your own government won't turn itself on you.  But actually when you look at this, it has nothing to do with guns, it is vaguely tyrannical behavior by the American government.  I think that what the IRS did is bordering on tyrannical behavior.  I think that what the Department of Justice to the AP bordering on tyrannical behavior."
I personally don't make the tyranny argument.  I am not saying that the argument is wrong, but just that I don't feel comfortable arguing about issues that I can't measure and test empirically.  My argument has been that background checks, as they are actually working, would be counterproductive.  Well, it appears that argument has actually be very persuasive to people who I probably could never reach with the type of empirical arguments that I would normally raise.

UPDATE: Democrats in congress are admitting the obvious here, that these scandals might prevent new laws that Obama is pushing.  From The Hill newspaper:
Speaking Monday on MSNBC, Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said the multiple inquiries into the conduct of IRS employees could undermine the push for immigration reform if the oversight effort becomes politicized.  
"The difficulty of turning this into too much of a political effort will be, it will undermine other efforts like tax reform, like immigration action, like work on gun violence issues," said Levin, who is the ranking member on the tax writing House Ways and Means Committee. . . .

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The Associated Press claims that Obama administration spying has already stopped sources from talking to press

I recently posted about the damage that the IRS tactics had already done to people's lives.  Now we can see the damage that Obama administration's spying on the Associated Press has had.

The president and chief executive officer of The Associated Press on Sunday called the government’s secret seizure of two months of reporters’ phone records “unconstitutional” and said the news cooperative had not ruled out legal action against the Justice Department.
Gary Pruitt, in his first television interviews since it was revealed the Justice Department subpoenaed phone records of AP reporters and editors, said the move already has had a chilling effect on journalism. Pruitt said the seizure has made sources less willing to talk to AP journalists and, in the long term, could limit Americans’ information from all news outlets.
Pruitt told CBS’ ”Face the Nation” that the government has no business monitoring the AP’s newsgathering activities.
“And if they restrict that apparatus ... the people of the United States will only know what the government wants them to know and that’s not what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they wrote the First Amendment,” he said. . . .
Stopping national security leaks is one thing.  But the process used here by the Obama administration is only supposed to be used when there is imminent danger.  In this case, Obama administration went after  the AP after the leak had already occurred.

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The cracks in Obama's story on the IRS scandal are adding up

From the WSJ:
The White House's chief lawyer learned weeks ago that an audit of the Internal Revenue Service likely would show that agency employees inappropriately targeted conservative groups, a senior White House official said Sunday.
That disclosure has prompted a debate over whether the president should have been notified at that time.
In the week of April 22, the Office of the White House Counsel and its head, Kathryn Ruemmler, were told by Treasury Department attorneys that an inspector general's report was nearing completion, the White House official said. In that conversation, Ms. Ruemmler learned that "a small number of line IRS employees had improperly scrutinized certain…organizations by using words like 'tea party' and 'patriot,' " the official said. . . .
Possibly the WSJ should have asked not "whether the president should have been notified at that time" but "if the president was notified at that time."  Of course, Jack Lew, Obama's chief of staff at the time, knew about this last fall.  How many people right next to Obama have to know about this before it can be assumed that Obama also knew before he claims that he found out from the media reports.  This is hardly the first time that I felt that the media was covering on this for Obama.  Now we have this amazing statement from someone working in Internal Revenue Service’s Cincinnati office: 
“We people on the local level are doing what we are supposed to do. . . . That’s why there are so many people here who are flustered. Everything comes from the top. We don’t have any authority to make those decisions without someone signing off on them. There has to be a directive.” . . .
UPDATE: Now Democrats are making the only defense that they can for Obama -- that his closest aides never told him about the IRS scandal.  Obama feints great anger about this scandal, but it apparently never dawned on his closest aides that he would care enough about the IRS scandal.  If they so let him down, why aren't these people being fired?   From The Hill newspaper:
Senior White House officials were briefed about a federal audit of the IRS’s improper focus on conservatives, but they decided not to tell President Obama about it, press secretary Jay Carney claimed Monday.
White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler learned about the report in April and made the decision not to tell the president, even as other senior staffers got wind of the audit by Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, Carney said.
Denis McDonough, White House chief of staff, was among those told about the nature of the report, which found that Tea Party and other small-government advocates seeking tax-exempt status were tagged for special screening because of their names.Carney defended the decision to keep the president out of the loop, saying conclusions often change in the final stages of inspector general reports. It also would’ve been inappropriate, Carney added, for the White House to involve itself in an ongoing investigation. . . .
UPDATE: Even the press is covering the shifting Obama administration story line about who was informed about the IRS scandal.  Politico notes how many people very close to the president knew about this scandal, but that somehow none of them mentioned it to him despite the fact that he now claims that he cares intensely about the issue.
Even Politico has a headline: "The White House's shifting IRS Account"
They note: "Monday’s revelation amounts to the fifth iteration of the Obama administration’s account of events, after initially saying that the White House had first learned of the controversy from the press." 

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Very nice review of "More Guns, Less Crime" at Amazon.com

I don't think that I have ever previously pointed to an Amazon.com review of one of my books, but there is a particularly nice, detailed review of the third edition of "More Guns, Less Crime" that has been posted by a fellow academic.  It is much appreciated that he took the time to read the book so quickly and wrote up such a detailed review.
First, some background about me: I am a Ph.D.-holder and tenured professor whose immersion in the insular politics of academia had led me to harbor many negative perceptions about firearms. Though I was never staunchly "anti-gun," I was not a gun owner, did not understand the appeal of firearms, and generally believed that gun control legislation was only common sense. That changed four years ago when I (finally) decided to look into the data on guns, crime, and public safety for myself. I am a trained researcher, but I conducted my research for personal not professional reasons. My wife was pregnant and I wanted hard facts--not talking point from the political parties--so I could make an informed decision about what to teach my children about firearms, and whether it would be prudent or dangerous to have one in our house. 
I was drawn into that research almost immediately by the sheer force of my own disbelief. . . .
The rest of the review is available here. Anyway, thanks very much for the review.  It would be nice if this review was rewarded with a few clicks on the link indicating that the review was helpful.


Car plows into crowd at parade injuring over 50 people

From the Associated Press:
Authorities believe the driver who plowed into dozens of hikers marching in a Virginia mountain town parade suffered from a medical condition and did not cause the crash intentionally, an emergency official said Sunday. . . .  
In what witnesses called a frantic scene at the parade, about 50 to 60 people suffered injuries ranging from critical to superficial Saturday. No fatalities were reported. Three of the worst injured were flown by helicopter to area hospitals. . . .  
Nunley said the man's 1997 Cadillac was one of the last vehicles in the parade and the driver might have suffered an unspecified medical problem when his car accelerated to about 25 mph and struck the crowd on a two-lane bridge along the town's main road. The driver was among those taken to hospitals. . . .