Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Back to school supplies

Tonight's marketing Fail -- Apparently one manufacturer is targeting those angst-filled middle school years:


(Photo: MarcyWrites.com)

Reportedly found in a Vons grocery store in Yorba Linda, CA. It does give a whole new meaning to the term back to school "solution", doesn't it?

:)

Of course, if we weren't so obsessed with blaming tools instead of those who abuse them, this packaging would be quite innocuous.

[via Marcy Writes]

Biden's very own bridge to nowhere

From CNN:



More uh, "Hope-O-cricy" from the Obama/Biden "Change" ticket.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania ...

Article on the increase in concealed carry permits in the Keystone State:
A pit bull lunges for a 4-year-old boy as he walks with his father to Saturday services at a Harrisburg synagogue. The father pulls his pistol and shoots the dog. In the parking lot of an Annville-Cleona school, a student finds a loaded handgun. Turns out, a school bus driver with a permit to carry it dropped it from her purse.

In the wake of a shooting outside Harrisburg Mall, police arrest and then release an armed man in a car. He's not a suspect, they say, and he has a permit to pack that pistol. Recent stories like these point to a quiet revolution in American gun laws that began two decades ago, with Pennsylvania in the vanguard.
...
Five in every 100 midstaters 21 and older have a permit to carry a concealed gun. Statewide, the number is almost seven in every 100, according to state police records reviewed by The Patriot-News.

And the number of permits is climbing. Amid a recent campaign by gun-rights groups to encourage applications, sheriffs around the state saw a sharp increase in applications last year.
...
Gun-rights activist Kim Stolfer says he doubts there were as many as 10,000 Pennsylvanians with concealed-weapon permits before the state law changed in 1989.

Now there are more than three times that many in the four-county midstate alone, records show. Statewide, the number is almost 600,000.

Article here.

Concealed carry permits increase in Florida

From the Sunshine State, comes news that the number of concealed carry permits continues to climb:
The number of Floridians with permission to pack heat has jumped nearly 50 percent in three years.

In 2005, one year before the state Legislature's decision to provide anonymity to people holding concealed weapons licenses, there were 347,350 active permits statewide.

Now, that number has swelled to about 520,000.
...
To opponents, that makes Florida a 21st century Wild West. The increased permits mean one out of about every 35 Floridians has the right to conceal a gun.

Article here. Naturally, the article has the usual hysterics from the anti-self defense crowd, and the obligatory "Wild West" reference noted above.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Loan interview

Tonight's awkward loan interview: Jon Stewart interviews Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke on their loan request:



Sigh. The sad part is the $700 billion "loan" is true.

Philadelphia can't set own gun rules, says court

A Pennsylvania court has ruled that state law prohibits the City of Brotherly Love from passing its own gun control ordinances:
PHILADELPHIA — A state court ruled Friday that Philadelphia was not entitled to set its own gun laws, invalidating five measures passed by the City Council last year and striking a blow against the city’s efforts to strengthen gun control.

The Commonwealth Court dismissed a petition by two City Council members, Darrell L. Clarke and Donna Reed Miller, who filed suit last year arguing that the state’s Uniform Firearms Act did not pre-empt Philadelphia’s gun laws.
...
“While we understand the terrible problems gun violence poses for the city and sympathize with its efforts to use its police powers to create a safe environment for its citizens,” the five-judge panel wrote in a 21-page opinion, “these practical considerations do not alter the clear pre-emption imposed by the legislature.” The decision was by a vote of 4 to 1.

Article here.

Code Green

Andrew Breitbart has a funny op-ed in today's Washington Times:
But even if those coal plants are in foreign lands like Ohio and Pennsylvania, it doesn't mean we Southern Californians must stand still and let the planet implode in front of us. That's why I'm taking Al Gore's lead and starting Code Green, a Hollywood organization whose purpose is to use civil disobedience to thwart the unnecessary use of energy in the entertainment industry.

Inspired by Jodie Evans, who started the antiwar group Code Pink, the menopausal performance artists known for interrupting public debate, Code Green will demand oversight over her group because, after all, her tidy little rage club is based in L.A.

No more trips from L.A. to Minneapolis on Northwest Airlines to protest the Republican National Convention. (I saw you wearing that tiara - in first class!) Mother Earth coughed up some smog while you chanted at the GOP, "Not one dollar, not one more, Don't you dare buy Bush's war."

You are now not free to move around the country.
...
There are new rules that we will all have to adhere to, whether we like it or not.

Here is the Code Green four-point "Gang Green" mandate:

1.) Directive: Stop film and television production.

This will be the first sentence of the rewrite of the Kyoto Protocol.

Each show or movie leaves a massive carbon footprint that cannot be erased even by the best CGI masters. There will be no more "Grey's Anatomy" spinoffs, nor will there be any more labored attempts to squeeze out lame sentimentality from child actors pretending to be smarter than us. They will now have to work at Pinkberry, where those little saps belong.

Read it here. Finally, a Global Warming action plan I can support! :)

Campus carry op-ed

Another op-ed for campus carry, this one from University of Texas at Dallas:
Eleven colleges permit students and faculty the right to carry across the United States, including every public university in Utah since fall 2006, a community college in Virginia for more than five years and Colorado State University for the past 13 years. No incidents involving gun violence, accidental discharge or gun theft have occurred on these campuses since legalizing concealed carry.
...
Wild west shootouts remained a thing of the past and violent crime rates dropped. Texans with concealed handgun licenses are 14 times less likely than those without them to commit a crime and five times less likely to commit a violent crime, according to a report released by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Census Bureau in 2000.

States that allow the right to carry have lower crime rates than the other states. According to a FBI study in 2006, rates were lower for violent crime by 26 percent, murder 31 percent, robbery 51 percent and aggravated assault 15 percent.

Read the op-ed here.

Texans love their guns

Texas is a safe "Red" state for the McCain/Palin ticket, and gun rights and the gun-control issue is one reason why:
Among the assault rifles and razor-sharp throwing stars for sale at a recent Freeman Coliseum gun show, fierce loyalty to John McCain also was on display. Lit by flashing red lights and imprinted on buttons, his name greeted browsers at the booths of dealers who consider this year's presidential contest a momentous occasion.
...
In a state where lawmakers regularly expand gun rights, few issues more consistently push Texans toward Republicans in national elections. And the state isn't wary of innovation: This year, a school district near Dallas became the first in the nation to allow teachers and staff to carry guns for protection, a measure Gov. Rick Perry endorsed.

In turn, the Lone Star State logged just nine out of 100 points on a state scorecard compiled recently by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The group cites numerous reasons, including the fact that legislators here have not limited assault weapons or required background checks on all purchases at gun shows, two issues seen as critical on both sides of the gun debate.

“It's usually part of the larger cultural advantage for Republicans. The Democrats are seen as anti-gun,” said Earl Black, a Rice University professor and co-author of “The Rise of Southern Republicans.”

Article here. Of course, there are always those gun owners who just don't get it:
There are gun owners in Texas who support the Illinois senator.

George Salinas Jr., a lifetime hunter and local attorney, said he believes Obama when he says he intends to make America's streets safer but won't yank away Salinas' hunting rifle.

“I've never seen any game in Texas that would require a semiautomatic weapon to take down,” he said.

Ugh. The Second Amendment isn't about hunting, and as an attorney, Mr. Salinas should know that.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The New Math ...

In an effort to "give struggling children a chance", Pittsburgh schools have instituted an innovative policy that will guarantee no student ever gets an "F":
While some districts use "F" as a failing grade, the city uses an "E."

"The 'E' is to be recorded no lower than a 50 percent, regardless of the actual percent earned. For example, if the student earns a 20 percent on a class assignment, the grade is recorded as a 50 percent," said the memo from Jerri Lippert, the district's executive director of curriculum, instruction and professional development, and Mary VanHorn, a PFT vice president.
...
And she said one teacher she knows already worries about how awkward it will look when a student correctly answers three of 10 questions on a math quiz -- and gets a 50 percent. [emphasis added]

Article here. So in Pittsburgh, three out of ten equals fifty! The New Math, alive and well in Pittsburgh schools.

For some reason, I'm reminded of this classic scene from This is Spinal Tap:



Of course, in Pittsburgh, the dials would start at fifty!

:)

Finland may ban guns in wake of school shooting

In the wake of a mass school shooting in Finland, the country's Prime Minister has suggested banning private handgun ownership:
FINLAND'S Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen yesterday raised the prospect of radical reform of the country's gun laws in the wake of Tuesday's mass college shooting in which 11 people died, suggesting private handgun ownership should be banned.

Declaring a day of national mourning, Mr Vanhanen said: "We have to tighten the law significantly ... handguns should no longer be used outside shooting ranges.

"In terms of handguns that can easily be carried about, we have to think about whether they should be available for private people."

The country has a long tradition of hunting and weapons-bearing, with about 1.6 million firearms in private hands - the third in the world behind the US and Yemen, studies say.

But Tuesday's mass shooting, the second rampage in 10 months, has prompted renewed controversy about the role of guns in Finnish society.

Matti Juhani Saari, 22, on Tuesday shot fellow students at a vocational college in Kauhajoki, western Finland, where he was studying hospitality.

Article here. Not to make light of this tragic event, but doesn't it seem ironic that the mass-murderer was a college student studying "hospitality"?

Senate Dems block D.C. gun bill

Predictably, Senate Democrats have moved to block passage of the bill overturning D.C.'s restrictive gun law, passed in the wake of the Supreme Court's Heller decision.
Senate Democrats objected Thursday to an attempt by Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, to take up House-passed legislation that would roll back District of Columbia gun laws.

Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin , D-Ill., objected, calling the bill an attempt “take away the authority” of the city to write its own gun laws.

Hutchinson said it is “the prerogative of Congress” to make laws affecting the District.

Article here.

UK knife crime getting worse

From formerly-Great Britain:
Police figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that forces in England and Wales are on course to record a total of 38,000 serious knife crimes this year – more than 100 a day.

The figure is at least two-thirds higher than last year's total of 22,151 offences, announced by the Home Office in July when it unveiled its first annual count of knife crimes.

The sharp rise has come about because ministers have changed the counting rules, in response to complaints that key categories of crime were excluded from last year's total.
...
The reason for the increase is that knife offences categorised as actual bodily harm, rape, sexual assault or threats to kill, which were all excluded from last year's knife crime count, are all included this year.

Cases of wounding, grievous bodily harm and knifepoint robbery, which made up the bulk of last year's figures, will continue to be included this year. Mere illegal possession of a knife is not counted in the totals; if it was, the figures would be much higher.

Article here.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Another industry near collapse, say economists

Tonight's economic humor:

Obama tries to block NRA ad

According to Politico, Obama's minions are trying to intimidate TV stations to not air an NRA ad critical of Obama:

The Obama campaign has written radio stations in Pennsylvania and Ohio, pressing them to refuse to air an ad from the National Rifle Association.

"This advertisement knowingly misleads your viewing audience about Senator Obama's position on the Second Amendment," says the letter from Obama general counsel Bob Bauer. "For the sake of both FCC licensing requirements and the public interest, your station should refuse to continue to air this advertisement."


The ad targets hunters:



Note that Factcheck.org did an analysis of the ad and claimed that it falsely portrayed Obama's positions on some issues. The Independence Institute's Dave Kopel, however, in a long and thorough analysis of his own, takes issue with Factcheck's analysis:
FactCheck’s September 22, 2008, report on the National Rifle Association’s advertising critical claims that the NRA “distorts Obama's position on gun control beyond recognition.” FactCheck itself, though, has overstated its claims, and made several errors.

The NRA’s advertising points to various positions which Obama has taken over the years. Not one of these positions (with a single very dubious exception, discussed below) has been subsequently repudiated by Obama.

Much of FactCheck’s critique of the NRA is the mere recitation of vague platitudes by Obama claiming that he supports of the Second Amendment.
...
[much detail omitted]
...
Well, that Obama has "always believed" in the individual Second Amendment right did not prevent him from proposing a national ban on concealed carry, a ban on 90% of gun stores, a 500% tax increase on firearms and ammunition--as the FactCheck article itself reports. If a candidate proposed banning 90% of bookstores and a huge tax increase on books, it might be justifiable to predict that he would be "the most anti-book president in American history"--notwithstanding his proclaimed belief in the individual First Amendment right.

FactCheck calls the NRA prediction, "a pretty tall statement. We don't know how George Washington, John Adams or Thomas Jefferson might have felt about armor-piercing ammunition or assault weapons."

Fortunately, there haven't been many anti-gun Presidents, in U.S. history; and only the Clinton administration invested a large portion of its political capital in gun control. So President Obama would not have much competition in the "most anti-gun" contest.

We know that Washington and Jefferson were avid gun collectors, and that Jefferson recommended daily hunting as the best form of exercise. We also know that Jefferson instituted a government program to supply guns, at federal expense, to people who couldn’t own one. We know that neither Washington, nor Adams, nor Jefferson ever proposed banning a type of gun simply because it was useful on “battlefields.”

As far as we know, Obama has never fired a gun, or even held a gun in his hands. We do know that no President in American history has, in his pre-presidential career, endorsed so many sweeping prohibitions and other severe controls on American gun ownership.

The September 22, 2008, FactCheck on the NRA criticism of Obama is marred by the omission of crucial facts, one-sided and misleading presentations of issues, and thinly-concealed political advocacy. According to FactCheck, the NRA refused to answer FactCheck's request for explanations of its claims. If so, the refusal provides a partial explanation of why so many crucial facts were missing. Whatever the reasons behind the problems in the September 22 report, FactCheck should publish a substantially revised edition.

You know the economy's bad, when ...

Hugh Hefner has to cut back on expenses. :)

From the UK Telegraph:
Tycoon Hugh Hefner has been advised to cut back on staff at his multi-million dollar glamour empire as it struggles to cope during the global economic turmoil.

The 83-year-old has been told to lay off some of his staff at his Los Angeles and New York offices as soon as this month or go bankrupt.

Article here. Actually, I'm kinda surprised that Playboy's still in business. With a veritable smorgasbord of free, high resolution / high definition pron but a Google search and a mouse click away, it's hard to see how Playboy can ultimately stay in business, particularly with the kind of expenses that maintaining Hef's lifestyle and image must incur. It's hard to compete with free, and I'm guessing not that many people actually read the magazine "for the articles". :)

I think Playboy has tried to develop online subscription websites and a pay-per-view and/or premium cable TV channels, but again, all of that stuff -- photos, videos -- is available online for free, and sliced up into very targeted niches. Looking for photos and videos of bi-sexual college coeds performing BDSM blowjobs in tight latex outfits? There's probably a website specializing in just that (and no, I didn't check). So why pay for a Playboy subscription when you can get such content on the web, in more targeted forms, and much greater quantity, often for free?

More shilling from ASHA

The deceptively-named American Hunters and Shooters Association (ASHA), is reportedly a false-flag operation masquerading as a "pro-gun" organization. ASHA does seem to have some of the media fooled, which admittedly isn't hard to do when it comes to guns, especially when most journalists believe, or want to believe the anti-gun propaganda:
Former Washington Redskin and president of the American Hunters and Shooters Association Ray Schoenke stopped in Clarksburg Wednesday to shoot a couple clay pigeons and talk about how the Second Amendment comes into play in the presidential campaign.

"As a gun rights organization, we believe gun rights should be protected, and it's a right we feel strongly about," Schoenke said, adding he doesn't believe an administration under Barack Obama would decrease gun ownership rights.

"The Supreme Court has ruled the government can't take your guns away," he said. "Neither party is going to take your guns away."

There are differences of opinion on whether Obama's stance on gun ownership actually supports gun owners.

Schoenke said he believes Obama supports Second Amendment rights, including the right to bear arms, in the same manner as his opponent, John McCain. As a hunter, however, he thinks Obama would do a better job preserving land.

Article here. If you know anyone who thinks ASHA is pro-gun and supports gun rights, please disabuse them of this notion.

Point them to the following links about ASHA and its anti-gun leadership:

NRA-ILA: Anti-Gunners Don Camo as Election Looms

GunLawNews: American Hunters and Shooters Association (includes a breakdown of the ASHA leadership and their political donation histories -- no surprise, lots of donations to anti-gun politicians like Ted Kennedy, Diane Feinstein, Carolyn McCarthy, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, the old Handgun Control, Inc., etc., etc.)

Guilty until proven innocent, says anti-gunner

From Buckeye Firearms Association:
While most people are familiar with the legal right to a presumption of innocence – being innocent until proven guilty – that exists in the modern nations, an Ohio gun ban lobbyist with ties to Barack Obama seems to be quite ignorant about the matter.

Having suffered yet another stinging loss in the Ohio legislature with passage of Castle Doctrine, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence (OCAGV) Executive Director Toby Hoover told Ohio University's The Post that "a gun owner who shoots an intruder in their home should not be assumed innocent."

Investigations by Buckeye Firearms Association have revealed that OCAGV's primary source of funding comes from the anti-gun Joyce Foundation, for which Barack Obama served on the board of directors from 1994 through 2002. [links omitted]

Article here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Your one suitcase

Tonight's financial humor:
There once was a rich man who was near death. He was very grieved because he had worked so hard for his money and he wanted to be able to take it with him to heaven. So he began to pray that he might be able to take some of his wealth with him.

An angel hears his plea and appears to him. "Sorry, but you can't take your wealth with you." The man implores the angel to speak to God to see if He might bend the rules. The man continues to pray that his wealth could follow him. The angel reappears and informs the man that God has decided to allow him to take one suitcase with him. Overjoyed, the man gathers his largest suitcase and fills it with pure gold bars and places it beside his bed.

Soon afterward the man dies and shows up at the Gates of Heaven to greet St. Peter. St. Peter seeing the suitcase says, "Hold on, you can't bring that in here!" But, the man explains to St. Peter that he has permission and asks him to verify his story with the Lord.

Sure enough, St. Peter checks and comes back saying, "You're right. You are allowed one carry-on bag, but I'm supposed to check its contents before letting it through." St. Peter opens the suitcase to inspect the worldly items that the man found too precious to leave behind and exclaims,

"You brought pavement?"

:)

A summary of post-Heller court rulings

From Volokh Conspiracy, here's a summary of some post-Heller court rulings from around the country. See the list here.

Washington proposes "chemical action plan" for lead ammo

From NRA-ILA:
The lead ammunition you use for hunting as well as target and competitive shooting will be banned from purchase, use and ownership in the state of Washington if the state's Department of Ecology has its way. Lead ammunition is a target of a series of recommendations in the "Lead Chemical Action Plan" prepared by the Department of Ecology.

The plan is open for public comment until Monday, October 6. The plan and information about submitting comments are available at: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/pbt/leadcap/.

Lead shot has been banned in waterfowl hunting. Most recently, California passed a law that prohibits hunters from using lead ammunition in areas within the range of the California condor. A symposium was held in June in Boise, Idaho about the effects of lead ammunition on wildlife and humans. Most of the speakers supported a ban on lead ammunition, regardless of the cost, performance, and availability of substitutes. The Department of Ecology plan is yet another effort to remove lead ammunition nationwide.

Article here. This is likely one more step on the road to additional lead ammo restrictions and/or bans.

From the Washington State Dept. of Ecology website, the description of the draft "lead chemical action plan" is:
This is the lead chemical action plan (CAP). It was developed by the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) with the valuable help of other agencies and representatives of numerous interests across the state. The purpose of a CAP is to 1) find out what the dangers of a substance are; 2) identify where the substance is found in the environment and; 3) recommend ways to reduce or prevent harm from the substance.

The Washington State Dept. of Ecology lead proposal is here.

Gun bans: It’s for the children, er, crocodiles

From the Solomons:
Attempts to turn Solomon Islands into a gun-free society has had an unintended deadly side effect.

It's lead in part, to an increase in the number of fatal crocodile attacks.

Guns were banned on Solomon Islands following racial tensions and the arrival in 2003 of the Australian lead Regional Assistance Mission, RAMSI.

Solomon Islands Acting Police Commissioner, Peter Marshall, has told Radio Australia at least six people have been killed by crocodiles in the past 18 months.

Article here. Hey, crocs got to eat, too, don't they? :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Avast, ye mateys!

Tonight's musical interlude: Dutch pianist Wibi Soerjadi plays the theme song from Pirates of the Caribbean with his non-hook, left hand only (the hook is a prop, he has use of both of his hands).



Impressive.

Congressional villains

FOX News segment that aired yesterday on the Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac implosion that is a key contributor to the mess we're in:



We probably won't see this kind of reporting on the Obama channels -- NBC, CNN, et. al., because it shows the Bush Administration in 2001 and again in 2003, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan in 2005 and John McCain in early 2006 raising red flags about Fannie and Freddie and the risk those government sponsored entities (GSEs) posed to the financial system. The Democrats in Congress were the ones who blocked attempts to gain oversight or set limits on those government sponsored entities, despite their earlier accounting troubles.

Bailout may push national debt to World War II levels

From Bloomberg:
Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's $700 billion proposal to stabilize the banking system may push the national debt to the highest level since 1954, threatening an erosion of foreign appetite for U.S. bonds.

The plan, which asks Congress for funds to buy devalued securities from financial institutions, would drive the debt above 70 percent of gross domestic product and the annual budget gap to an all-time high, possibly exceeding $1 trillion next year, economists estimated.

"This is sobering, absolutely sobering, even to someone who doesn't drink," said Stan Collender, a former analyst for the House and Senate budget committees, now at Qorvis Communications in Washington.

Article here.

Another Bloomberg article discusses the key role the credit ratings agencies Standard & Poor's (of S&P 500 fame) and Moody's played in rating collateralized debt obligations (CDOs):
Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Frank Raiter says his former employer, Standard & Poor's, placed a ``For Sale'' sign on its reputation on March 20, 2001. That day, a member of an S&P executive committee ordered him, the company's top mortgage official, to grade a real estate investment he'd never reviewed.
...
Driven by competition for fees and market share, the New York-based companies stamped out top ratings on debt pools that included $3.2 trillion of loans to homebuyers with bad credit and undocumented incomes between 2002 and 2007. As subprime borrowers defaulted, the companies have downgraded more than three-quarters of the structured investment pools known as collateralized debt obligations issued in the last two years and rated AAA.

Without those AAA ratings, the gold standard for debt, banks, insurance companies and pension funds wouldn't have bought the products. Bank writedowns and losses on the investments totaling $523.3 billion led to the collapse or disappearance of Bear Stearns Cos., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. and compelled the Bush administration to propose buying $700 billion of bad debt from distressed financial institutions.

Article here. Worth a read.

Battle for Minnesota heats up

With polls showing a close presidential race in Minnesota, the two camps are actively campaigning in that state:
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Forget spring, summer, fall and winter. In Minnesota, the seasons go by fishing, boating, hunting and snowmobiling.
...
With a fresh poll showing a deadlocked race in Minnesota, McCain was bringing his Republican campaign back to the state Friday along with his new weapon: moose-hunting running mate Sarah Palin. McCain's selection of the Alaska governor has fired up some outdoors enthusiasts.

"She's probably the most pro-hunting and pro-gun candidate that we've ever had," said dentist Don McMillan, a member of Minnesota's Sportsmen for McCain. "She hunts. She fishes. She snowmobiles. She's an outdoors person. Outdoors people can relate to someone like that."

Article here. The gun-owner vote will be important in this close state, which has trended towards the right of late, but which has historically (for the past couple of decades, at least) been regarded as a safe "Blue" state for presidential candidates. Hopefully, the "Second-Amendment-is-only-about-hunting" gun-owner crowd will wise up, and vote for the candidate less likely to screw them once in power. Hint: Obama and Biden are virulently anti-gun; judge them by their actions, not their current lies words.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Not your average Sunday driver

Tonight's not-exactly-a-Sunday-driver video. Former Formula One driver Riccardo Patrese takes his lovely wife for an, um, little drive around the track in a Honda Civic Type-R:



Hmmm, she don't sound like a fan of his driving. :)

Ohio Supremes strike down Clyde gun ban

The Ohio Supreme Court has struck down a Clyde city ordinance that banned firearms in city parks:
(Sept. 18, 2008) The Supreme Court of Ohio held today that a Clyde city ordinance banning possession of firearms in municipal parks is unconstitutional because it conflicts with a general state law that permits licensed individuals to carry a concealed weapon on any public property other than at locations specified in the state statute. The Court’s 4-3 decision was authored by Justice Terrence O’Donnell.

In January 2004, the General Assembly enacted R.C. 2923.126, a state law allowing persons who meet certain qualifications and obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm anywhere in Ohio other than in excepted locations enumerated in the statute. In uncodified language adopted as part of the concealed carry bill, the legislature declared that its purpose was to adopt a general and uniform regulatory scheme for the concealed carry of firearms in all parts of the state. In adopting that scheme, the legislature stated that it intended to preempt the future adoption or enforcement by any Ohio municipality or political subdivision of any local ordinance that conflicted with state law by prohibiting the carrying of a concealed weapon in a location where concealed carry is permitted by R.C. 2923.126.

In June 2004, the Clyde City Council enacted a municipal ordinance that prohibited any person within the confines of any city park from possession of a deadly weapon. The ordinance expressly included in its weapons ban persons who were licensed to carry a concealed firearm “pursuant to R.C. 2923.125.” In August 2004, Ohioans for Concealed Carry (OCC) filed suit in the Sandusky County Court of Common Pleas seeking a declaratory judgment that the Clyde ordinance was void and unenforceable because it was in conflict with R.C. 2923.126.

While the Clyde case was pending, the Sixth District Court of Appeals in Toledo v. Beatty upheld a Toledo city ordinance banning guns from city parks. Citing Beatty, the trial court entered judgment in favor of Clyde, affirming the enforceability of its ordinance. OCC appealed. While that appeal was pending, the legislature adopted new legislation, H.B. 347, reaffirming its intent to enact a statute that would “provide uniform laws throughout the state” regulating the concealed carry of firearms and explicitly stating that Ohioans have a fundamental constitutional right to possess a firearm where such possession is not expressly prohibited by the U.S. or Ohio constitutions or by a state or federal law. In light of the adoption of H.B. 347, the 6th District abandoned its previous holding in Beatty, reversed the ruling of the trial court, and invalidated the Clyde city ordinance as in conflict with a “general law of the state.”

Clyde sought and was granted Supreme Court review of the appellate court ruling.

The majority in today’s decision, rejected Clyde’s claim that the challenged ordinance was a valid exercise of the city’s “home rule” powers granted by Section 3, Article XVIII, of the Ohio Constitution, and affirmed the 6th District’s holding that the local ordinance is unconstitutional because it conflicts with a general law of the state.

Read the rest of the opinion summary here. The court's opinion is available here.

One more win for law-abiding gun owners, one more setback for city tyrants politicians.

The anti-gunners' post-Heller strategies

Article from America's First Freedom, via the Independence Institute, on the anti-gunners' post-Heller strategies. An excerpt:
And just recently, the renowned New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) telegraphed its own intentions of gearing up for a fresh new round of biased articles. On April 3, 2008, it published a rant by Dr. Garen J. Wintemute, an M.D. with a master's in public health, entitled "Guns, Fear, the Constitution, and the Public's Health."

Wintemute personalized firearm-related violence by opening his article with the horrific description of the accidental shooting death of a 16-year-old Japanese exchange student, whose 1992 Halloween fun had gone tragically amiss because of a failure of communication. To further maximize the cost of private firearm possession, Wintemute proceeded to use the conflated statistic that, in 2005, 30,694 people "died from gunshot wounds."

The tactic often used by this author and others--combining firearm-related homicide with firearm-related suicide--allows them to statistically increase the number of firearm-related deaths. The CDC's June 28, 2006, National Vital Statistics Report: Preliminary Data for 2004 (the most recent published statistics) listed firearm-related homicides in the U.S. at 11,250, and firearm-related suicides at 16,603. Using the combined number maximizes the perceived danger firearms pose to society.

But homicide and suicide are two totally unrelated problems, and therefore require different interventions, although the same implement is used in both instances.

Even notorious anti-gun researcher Martin Killias admitted that suicide was not a matter of method, but of motivation. In 2001, Killias used international data to examine the factor of substitution of suicide methods. He concluded that the instrument of suicide is not the cause of the act.

Article here. The article debunks several common falsehoods and identifies tactics and strategies used by the gun ban crowd.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The A-Team, Trekkie Edition

Tonight's "what if?" video:



:)

Bailouts, the Housing Mess, and Socialism

I don't usually post on finance and the economy since I don't have any particular expertise in those areas apart from being well read, but here are a couple of articles I came across that you might find interesting reading.

From the left-leaning Slate's The Big Money:
For years, the Republican Party has preached the virtues of the "ownership society." Americans should own their own homes, goes the songbook; they should own stocks; they should take ownership of social benefits like heath care; they should approach their lives as if they are in charge rather than look for dependency-inducing welfare programs.

It's a compelling vision—and it has completely collapsed. The only important ownership that the Bush administration is peddling today is government ownership of the country's financial institutions. On Friday, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson—the former CEO of Goldman Sachs—announced an unprecedented plan to salvage the largest banks in America. Just days after declaring that a bailout of Lehman Brothers would constitute an unacceptable moral hazard, a Republican administration has decided that the only way to keep the American economy alive is to have the federal government take the reins of some of the largest financial institutions in the world.

There is a term in political philosophy to describe a government takeover of a critical industry: That term is socialism. The government is telling us that capital and credit markets cannot, for several reasons, solve the current crisis on their own—only the federal government and its massive taxpayer base have the authority and the resources to solve it. That is state socialism: the philosophy preached by the founders of the Second International, by the radical wing of the American labor movement, through the formation of the Soviet Union and its satellites, and now by Henry Paulson. ...


From Barry Ritholtz' insightful blog The Big Picture, on a proposal to fix the housing and finance crisis:
The response to this financial crisis from the Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson borders on Insanity: An outrageous trillion dollar plus bailout, with the potential for unlimited expenditures at the behest of the Treasury Secretary. It is a terribly expensive plan, one that prevents judicial or administrative or budgetary review. It is fraught with moral hazard, rewarding bad judgment and excessive risk taking. It punishes the prudent and rewards the profligate.It focuses on all the wrong issues.

Worst of all, it is unlikely to work.

Most of the current solutions under discussion amount to throwing obscene amounts of money at the problem, rather than recognizing what the key issues are.

These approaches have several fundamental problems. The goals are less than desirable: 1) they attempt to keep people in homes they cannot afford; 2) The Paulson plan takes bad loans off of the books of poor lenders, and dumps them onto taxpayers; 3) They maintain price supports for homes that remain significantly over-priced. ...


And from Bloomberg, on the potential effect of the Paulson Plan on the dollar [Hat Tip: The Big Picture]:
Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's plan to end the rout in U.S. financial markets may derail the dollar's three-month rally as investors weigh the costs of the rescue.

The combination of spending $700 billion on soured mortgage-related assets and providing $400 billion to guarantee money-market mutual funds will boost U.S. borrowing as much as $1 trillion, according to Barclays Capital interest-rate strategist Michael Pond in New York. While the rescue may restore investor confidence to battered financial markets, traders will again focus on the twin budget and current-account deficits and negative real U.S. interest rates.

"As we get to the other side of this, the dollar will get crushed," said John Taylor, chairman of New York-based International Foreign Exchange Concepts Inc., the world's biggest currency hedge-fund firm, which manages about $15 billion. ...


What a mess! As Barry Ritholtz points out, the proposed Paulson Plan has some fundamental shortcomings and drawbacks, and as Slate points out, this kind of government action looks an awful lot like socialistic behavior. The danger, of course, is that government intervention will only postpone (even greater) economic pain, or even prolong such suffering. For example, last week the SEC instituted a ban on short selling the stocks of 799 financial companies (the ban is scheduled to expire on October 1st). As the Wall Street Journal points out, such actions helped prolong the Great Depression:
Police short sales and block them, says Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox. Fire the SEC chairman, says John McCain. Investigate those short sellers, say state attorneys general. Hold hearings to grill Wall Streeters says Nancy Pelosi. "Fire the whole Trickle-Down, On-Your-Own, Look-the-Other-Way crowd" says Barack Obama, and "get rid of this whole do-nothing approach to our economic problems." The Democratic presidential candidate wants public affirmation of his argument that the whole free-market philosophy of economics has been wrong.

Some of this talk carries an implicit suggestion: Do what I say or we will have another Great Depression. And no wonder: This September feels a lot like autumn 1929.

But there's an important fallacy here. The stock market crash of October 1929 and the Great Depression were not the same thing. What made the depression great was not magnitude but duration -- the fact that unemployment was still 20% 10 years later. In the 1930s, policies like the ones described above did not speed recovery; they impeded it.


With election-year politics inextricably intertwined in this whole mess, we may see, at the very least, a new zeal by the government to try to regulate the markets. The obvious danger is that the government will over-regulate, as often happens in the wake of financial crises (think: Sarbanes-Oxley, but on a much grander and imposing scale), and that such over-regulation will stifle the economic growth and make the likely downturn worse for poor and middle class Americans. Not a pretty picture, by any standard.

Heller attorney: Enforcing civil rights not an "insult"

Letter to the editor of the Washington Post from Alan Gura, lead plaintiff's attorney in the historic Supreme Court case that overturned Washington, D.C.'s gun ban, responding to an earlier WaPo editorial:
Vindication of fundamental civil rights is not an "injury," and asking that the government be held liable for the cost of enforcing our civil rights laws is no "insult" ["Holding Up Taxpayers," editorial, Sept. 6].

Enforcement of our nation's civil rights laws depends on attracting qualified lawyers to fight government agencies with endless resources on behalf of ordinary people who cannot afford legal services.
...
The Supreme Court also instructs that civil rights victories in exceptional cases entitle the prevailing lawyers to enhanced fees. Our request for fee enhancement is in line with what cases involving abortion, gay rights, police misconduct and other important issues have earned the lawyers who were brave enough to back them. Would The Post feel differently if we had vindicated a right about which it were more enthusiastic, say, freedom of the press?

If the city doesn't want to pay civil rights lawyers' fees, it should obey the Constitution. Freedom isn't free.

Read Mr. Gura's letter here.

The Nemerov Method

Article from the Buckeye Firearms Association on Howard Nemerov, discussing his conversion from an gun control supporter to a staunch pro-gun advocate:
It was his early experience in the rehabilitation field that shaped Nemerov’s initial support of total civilian disarmament. His associates were peacenik types that held the common belief that guns just cause injury and death, and felt therefore that there was no legitimate reason for the civilian ownership of guns. Nemerov saw no reason to hold a different opinion.
...
It was actually one of his patients who slowly started to change Nemerov’s mind when it came to gun control. Nemerov said that he had the utmost respect for his patient, who was a police officer and a former member of the Special Forces. The patient and Nemerov would often discuss politics during their sessions and the patient was often vocal about his pro-gun stance. Nemerov felt that if someone that he respected had a totally different view on gun control, then there must be more to the issue and decided to research it.

To conduct his research, Nemerov decided to only use statistics from Healthcare organizations, government sources, and gun control organizations. For his initial study, he decided to purposely discard any data that came directly from pro-gun organizations such as the Second Amendment Foundation, the Gun Owners of America, and the National Rifle Association.

The result of his research changed his mind on the issue. The research showed that there was no reliable evidence showing that gun control decreased violent crime, but that much of the data showed that higher levels of gun ownership and Right-to-Carry laws corresponded with decreased violent crime. It also showed how the antigun organizations’ own statistics proved how ineffective gun control really is.

Read the article here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Dark Side

Tonight's animation on the power of the Dark Side:

Charlie Gibson: "Are we fighting a Holy War?"

Another look at ABC News' Charlie Gibson's interview with Gov. Sarah Palin, where he took a quote from a speech she made out of context, and asked "are we fighting a Holy War?":



Don't you just love the Internet? I'll bet Charlie Gibson doesn't.

Some Obama info links

A few Obama-related links for your perusal.

On whether Obama inflated his resume:

New York Times article from last October: Obama’s Account of New York Years Often Differs From What Others Say :
Some say he has taken some literary license in the telling of his story. Dan Armstrong, who worked with Mr. Obama at Business International Corporation in New York in 1984 and has deconstructed Mr. Obama’s account of the job on his blog, analyzethis.net, wrote: “All of Barack’s embellishment serves a larger narrative purpose: to retell the story of the Christ’s temptation. The young, idealistic, would-be community organizer gets a nice suit, joins a consulting house, starts hanging out with investment bankers, and barely escapes moving into the big mansion with the white folks.”

Another article: Co-Workers: Obama Inflated His Resume citing at length Dan Armstrong, one of his co-workers quoted in the New York Times piece:
Indeed, there would seem to be an especially conspicuous absence of witnesses to the years after graduated from Columbia and before he moved to Chicago to work as a community organizer.

Well, it turns out that one of his co-workers, Dan Armstrong, has in fact written about Mr. Obama during those days. And while he is an admitted fan of Obama’s, he claims that he has inflated his resume considerably.

Here's the co-worker's original blog post, dated July 2005: Barack Obama Embellishes His Resume:
Don’t get me wrong - I’m a big fan of Barack Obama, the Illinois freshman senator and hot young Democratic Party star. But after reading his autobiography, I have to say that Barack engages in some serious exaggeration when he describes a job that he held in the mid-1980s.I know because I sat down the hall from him, in the same department, and worked closely with his boss. I can’t say I was particularly close to Barack - he was reserved and distant towards all of his co-workers - but I was probably as close to him as anyone. I certainly know what he did there, and it bears only a loose resemblance to what he wrote in his book.


On the lack of people from his past willing to endorse Obama at the DNC Convention:

Columnist and political commentator Charles Krauthammer, writing in the Washington Post, notes the lack of people coming forward to vouch for Obama:
Barack Obama is an immensely talented man whose talents have been largely devoted to crafting, and chronicling, his own life. Not things. Not ideas. Not institutions. But himself.

Nothing wrong or even terribly odd about that, except that he is laying claim to the job of crafting the coming history of the United States. A leap of such audacity is odd. The air of unease at the Democratic convention this week was not just a result of the Clinton psychodrama. The deeper anxiety was that the party was nominating a man of many gifts but precious few accomplishments -- bearing even fewer witnesses.


On Obama's Harvard Law days:

Article in World Net Daily: Why Obama is mum about Harvard:
For starters, Obama did not do nearly well enough at his previous stop, Columbia University, to justify admission to Harvard Law.

According to the New York Sun, university spokesman Brian Connolly confirmed that Obama graduated in 1983 with a major in political science but without honors.

In the age of affirmative action and grade inflation, a minority in a relatively easy major like political science had to under-perform dramatically to avoid minimal honors. Obama apparently did just that.

This last article is mostly a hit piece on Obama, but it does give some background to his Harvard Law days and some of his alleged connections, and cites, among others, New York Times reports from the period.

Women educate brit about guns

Jon Kelly, a BBC reporter, meets some gun-totin' women in Arizona:
Since that day, Carol's attitudes have changed completely. Having moved to Phoenix permanently, she now runs classes teaching other female shooters how to hone their skills and heads a group called the Arizona Women's Shooting Association. Every time she leaves the house she reaches for her handbag, her keys and her gun.

I'm sure you've guessed why I wanted to come to their range. As soon as Sarah Palin's place on the Republican White House ticket was announced, pundits around the world picked over the apparent disparity between the Alaska governor's femininity and her handiness with a rifle.

And here, too, the lady shooters didn't conform to the stereotype of gun enthusiasts as rabid, wild-eyed survivalists. They'd laid on sandwiches and soda for me and chatted away about their children and careers. They were nice people.

Article here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Battle of the Rockets

Tonight's religious rocketry lesson:



According to this site, this event occurs on the Greek island of Chios during Easter:
The Rocket War of Vrondados is an old custom that began at the time of the Turkish occupation and it still happens every year at Easter. In the beginning the residents of the parishes of Panagia Erithiani and Saint Mark's, which are facing each other, made small cannons, to fire at each other. But through time the canons became rockets and fireworks made from nitre, sulphur and gunpowder.

The preparation of the rockets starts immediately after each Easter, so everything can be ready for the next year. Each year the amount of the rockets increases and the fireworks burning in the air, at the night of the Christ's resurrection, are really magnificent. Many people visit Chios Island this time of the year, so they can enjoy this truly unique but dangerous event. For this reason, the last few years measures are taken for the protection of all the people that participate in this event and the surrounding houses, so the custom can be continued safely.


Must be a tough job being a fireman during Easter on that island.

:)

Gun control issue again in elections

From the Washington Times:
Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama's hopes for carrying Montana have diminished over the past few months, and Montanans say it comes down to one word: guns.

"In Montana, we like our guns. We like big guns. We like little guns. We like shotguns. We like pistols. Most of us own two or three guns. Gun control is hitting what you shoot at," the state's Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer told the New York Times in April. When asked why he thought the Democratic nominee would not win his state, he replied, "guns."
...
This year, Mr. Obama's voting record, coupled with that of running mate Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, has resurrected the gun issue, and John McCain's campaign sees it as a major wedge issue to win over gun-owning swing Democrats and working-class union members in key Democratic bastions.

"Absolutely, we're going to emphasize guns and the Second Amendment. They're fundamental issues for Democrats, independents and Republicans in the battleground states that will decide this election," said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers.

Mr. McCain has compiled a largely pro-gun voting record in the Senate, but he has had some differences with the National Rifle Association on his support for background checks at gun shows and his campaign finance reform law, which restricts certain campaign TV ads among advocacy groups such as the NRA. More recently, though, his selection of running-mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a hunter and NRA member, has boosted his standing.

Article here. Try as they might, today's Democrats seem unable to pick pro-gun candidates for the presidential and vice-presidential race. Which is surprising, given gun control is such a loser issue for them.

Salt of the earth ... in lipstick

Article on Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin from the UK Sun:


(Sarah and her daughter pose with caribou she shot. Credit: UK Sun)

SARAH PALIN learned to call the shots at an early age — she got to grips with a gun at eight and made her first kill at ten.

The moose-hunting mum-of-five from Alaska grew up shooting animals and skinning them on the spot before hauling the meat home for the family freezer.

Sarah’s dad Chuck Heath shot a grizzly bear three years ago and its skin adorns a sofa in Sarah’s office. Now she is in the political bear pit after accepting the Republican Vice-Presidential nomination.

Chuck told The Sun: “Sarah was always very determined. Whatever she lacked in skill she always made up in determination. She always tried her hardest to be the best at everything she did.
...

(Proud dad Chuck Heath. Credit: UK Sun)

“She is a really good shot. I taught her to shoot a moose and dress it, to fish and hunt for game.

“We raised our family to be able to support ourselves — 90 per cent of our meat and fish we get ourselves.” ...

Article here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bernini exhibit at the Getty

For those with at interest in sculpture who happen to be in or visiting the Los Angeles area, there's an exhibition of works by the Italian Baroque master Gian Lorenzo Bernini at the Getty Museum that you may wish to visit. Bernini is considered one of the great sculptors of Western art.

From a WSJ article on the exhibit:
What [art historian] Wittkower had in mind was not just the hypnotically realistic portrait busts now on display at the Getty Museum. He was also thinking of the many larger and more challenging works of sculpture and architecture that Bernini either carved or designed over a remarkably prolific career of almost 70 years.


(Bernini's sensuous portrait bust of Costanza Bonarelli, reputed to be the sculptor's mistress, and on display at the Getty exhibit. Credit: Wall St. Journal)

As chief architect of St. Peter's in Rome, he was commissioned by one of the five popes he worked for (and one of six popes he sculpted) to design and build the 94-foot-high Baldacchino that raises its twisted bronze columns over the main altar. A second pope paid him to design the theatrical explosion that stands behind it, as well as the colossal colonnade that forms St. Peter's Square. He was responsible for four of Rome's most famous fountains, several monumental tombs, a number of churches and chapels and many full-length marble statues, including at least half a dozen masterpieces.

When I studied art history way back in college, I took a course on Baroque art, and remember thinking that much of Bernini's work had such a sublime beauty to it. Perhaps occasionally overwrought (and certainly so in comparison to Renaissance-era sensibilities), but moving in its immediacy and expressiveness.

The exhibition is Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture, on now through October 26th.

Mike Gravel interview on Governor Palin

A couple of left-wing radio talk show hosts in Minnesota interview former Democratic US Senator from Alaska Mike Gravel, and they try their best to get him to dump on Governor Palin.



Worth a listen. You can hear the evident frustration of the leftie talk show hosts as Senator Gravel doesn't play along.

Canada's Green Party wants to ban handguns and semi-auto firearms

Canada's Green Party is no friend of law-abiding gun owners:
Why is the Green Party more tolerant of semi-automatic weapons than the Liberals?

The Liberals, the reporter noted, want to ban them outright; the Greens want to ban them only in "urban centres," according to the Vision Green platform on their website.

May was shocked. She insisted the Greens also want to ban them everywhere. And then she checked the website.

"Oh, it does say in urban centres. I don't know why it says that," she said. "It's a mistake."

"I don't know how it happened but it's being removed immediately. I'm so glad you spotted that," she said, before turning to her staff. "This is important guys, it's got to be done right away."
...
In any event, the Green website was revised by day's end. The party now says it will "phase out the personal use of handguns and semi-automatic weapons by means of a careful review and consultation." [emphasis added]

It adds: "We will eliminate registration fees and decriminalize registration for hunting rifles and ensure law-abiding citizens do not have their firearms confiscated."

Article here. Note the standard "we don't want to ban hunting rifles" exception. Those "hunting rifles" will no doubt be banned later.

JMU students debate campus carry

Two James Madison University students present their opposing positions on armed students and teachers in the JMU student newspaper:

The anti-carry side:
GUEST COLUMN: More guns are not the answer
Barbie Spitz, member of JMU Students for a Democratic Society
...
Allowing guns on campus will only breed more opportunities for violence. The answer is not defense, but acknowledgement of the root causes of gun violence. We need to provide more help for troubled teens, question the values and activities of our society that cause so many to turn to violence and make more room for those who might not fit into the conventional culture of today’s society.

Defending yourself from guns by using a gun? Talk about a band-aid solution to a bullet wound.

Barbie Spitz is a senior sociology major and africana studies minor. For more information, visit studentsforgunfreeschools.org.


The pro-carry side:
GUEST COLUMN: Concealed carry combats an unlikely but dangerous threat
Daniel Dales, campus leader, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus

The Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois shootings were two instances that received heavy media attention. While these events are relatively infrequent, widespread attention on the issue should not be overlooked. There are many other instances that have not received such attention. In fact, there have been seven campus shootings since the incident at Virginia Tech last April. Regardless of the number of shootings, any incident that causes students on a public campus to fear for their safety absolutely warrants widespread attention.

SCCC advocates concealed carry on campus for personal protection by licensed adults over the age of 21. We have never stated that we do not intend to use our weapons, as the reason we carry them is in the extreme event that we would need to use them.
...
daniel dales is a senior biology major and criminal justice minor. For more information, visit concealedcampus.org.

Read both positions here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Incentives

Tonight's linguistic humor:
A very pretty young speech therapist was getting nowhere with her ‘Stammerers Action’ group. She had tried every technique in the book without the slightest success. Finally, thoroughly exasperated, she said,

‘If any of you can tell me the name of the town where you were born, without stuttering, I will have wild and passionate sex with you until your muscles ache and your eyes water. So, who wants to go first?’

The Englishman piped up, ‘B-b-b-b-b-b-b-irmingham’, he said.

‘That’s no use, Trevor’ said the speech therapist, ‘Who’s next?’.

The Scotsman raised his hand and blurted out, ‘P-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-aisley’.

‘That’s no better. There’ll be no wild sex for you either afraid, Hamish.
How about you, Paddy?’.

The Irishman took a deep breath and eventually blurted out, ‘London’.

‘That’s Brilliant, Paddy!’, said the speech therapist and immediately set about living up to her promise.

After 15 minutes of exceptionally steamy wild sex, the couple paused for breath and Paddy said, ‘d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-erry’

:)

D.C. City Council passes new gun law

In the wake of the House's vote to essentially strip the power-hungry tyrants Washington, D.C. City Council of its power to enact gun control on its own, the city has passed a new gun law that relaxes a few of the draconian restrictions under the existing law, which the city enacted in response to the Supreme Court's Heller ruling.

Among the changes:
  • The new law essentially changes the definition of "machine gun" from its previous nonsensical definition to now exclude semi-automatic firearms. D.C.'s previous definition of "machine gun" had included semi-automatic firearms.

  • Prohibits possession of a "large capacity ammunition feeding device", defined as one that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition.

  • Removes the requirement that the gun be kept unloaded and locked up or disassembled except when, and only when, it was actively being used for self-defense against an attacker. The new law announces that the unloaded and locked up or disassembled condition is now only the city's suggested policy.

  • The new law does impose a requirement to keep loaded guns either locked up or carried on the registrant's person "if he knows or reasonably should know that a minor is likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of the parent or guardian of the minor". Failure to observe this requirement is subject to an up to $1,000 fine and/or 6 months in prison. When the failure results in death, the penalty is up to $5,000 and/or five years in prison.

Related article links:

Washington Times: D.C. passes gun law, but House looms

Washington Times: House Democrats push through pro-gun bill:
Conservative House Democrats defied party leaders Wednesday and pushed through legislation that loosens gun laws in the District, saying that the Second Amendment trumps their party's long-standing advocacy of Home Rule in the nation's capital.

"Number one, I'm a pro-gun Democrat," said Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, a member of the Blue Dog conservative Democratic coalition. "Number two, if the government of the District of Columbia can take your guns away from you in our nation's capital, Prescott, Arkansas, and many other small towns across the country could be next." ...

Washington Post: Limit on Gun Law Passes; Senate Vote Unlikely
"If this bill comes to the floor of the United States Senate, I will do everything in my power to stop it," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

Gun Owners of America: House Passes Bill To Repeal D.C. Gun Ban -- Action now needed in the U.S. Senate:
The bill now goes to the Senate, but unless there is a ton of pressure put on Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the bill will languish in committee.

Thankfully, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) is spearheading an effort to get a vote on the House-passed bill. She is asking her fellow Senators to cosponsor a letter which she will then deliver to Sen. Reid.


The full text of the new law can be found here. [Hat tip to SCOTUS Blog for the link]

Biden Tax Returns: Charity begins at (someone else's) home

Senator Joe Biden, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, released his tax returns for the past ten years last week. An analysis of his charitable giving by tax law professor Paul Caron shows that the Bidens haven't exactly been paragons of charitable giving:
... the returns show that the Bidens have been amazingly tight-fisted when it comes to their charitable giving. Despite income ranging from $210,432 - $321,379 over the ten-year period, the Bidens have given only $120 - $995 per year to charity, which amounts to 0.06% - 0.31% of their income[.]
[chart omitted]
...
It is jarring that a couple earning over $200,000 per year would give as little as $2 per week to charity. This giving compares very unfavorably to John McCain, whose tax returns show that he gave 27.3% - 28.6% of his income to charity in 2006-2007. During the same period, the Obamas' tax returns show that they gave 5.8% - 6.1% of their income to charity. [emphasis added]

Professor Caron cites IRS data that shows that the average taxpayer with adjusted gross income of $15,000 to $30,000 has charitable giving of $1,916. In contrast, the Bidens highest level of charitable giving reported in their ten years of returns was $995, or just about half what an average taxpayer making about ten times less gives to charity. In the Bidens' tax bracket of $200,000+ adjusted gross income, the average taxpayer in that bracket donates $20,434 a year, or over twenty times the Bidens' highest contribution in the past ten years, and over 170 times the Bidens' lowest charitable contribution. So much for charity beginning at home.

Of course, liberals as a group are less generous with their own time and money than conservatives, with conservatives (particularly religious conservatives) donating more of both their own time and money than similarly situated liberals. So perhaps it's not surprising that Joe Biden's reported charitable contributions are so meager. He obviously prefers to spend other people's money (i.e., yours) to help the less fortunate.

I guess when Senators Obama and Biden exhort us towards more "public service" to improve the lives of others, the fine print must read "as long as it doesn't come out of our own pockets."

And once again, John McCain leads by example, giving as a percentage of his income over four times more than Barack Obama gave in the past couple of years, and more than 90 times what Joe Biden gave in the same period, as a percentage of income.

Law professors like donkeys

A recent analysis by Prof. Paul Caron of political contributions by law professors shows, not surprisingly, an overwhelming bias towards the Donkey Party:
FundRace 2008 on The Huffington Post lists 635 "law professors" as having made contributions to candidates in the 2008 Presidential election totalling $623,472. Of this amount, 92.7% ($577,924) has been contributed to Democratic candidates, 7.3% ($45,548) to Republican candidates. $487,772 has been contributed to the nominees of each party -- 94.7% ($461,754) to Barack Obama, 5.3% ($26,018) to John McCain. ...

See the breakdown by school here.

[Hat tip: WSJ Law Blog]

Never Forget


(Click on image to go to the official Defense Dept. POW/MIA site)

More anti-gun propaganda from the United Nations

Transmitted via one of their favored media organs, the Associated Press:
GENEVA (AP) - The United States leads the world in economic loss from deaths caused by armed crime, according to a global survey released Friday.

The U.S. registered an estimated loss of up to $45.1 billion in terms of economic productivity because of violent crimes, said the report by the U.N. Development Program and the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey.

Article here. Of course, the report doesn't mention the estimated savings to the United States realized by the over two million defensive gun uses that occur annually. That's two million rapes, robberies, and murders averted by armed citizens, the economic benefit of which no doubt dwarfs the U.N.'s cited economic cost number.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

You're from where?

Tonight's audience participation: A site that purports to give you an idea of the geographical distribution of your surname:

Go to http://www.publicprofiler.org/worldnames/Main.aspx

The program apparently only has data for some countries, including North America and Europe. Enter your surname at the top right and click the "Searh" button to get started. You can then click on the various countries to see more details. Mindless trivia, and who knows if it's accurate, but hey, you get what you pay for. :)

More hypocrisy from Team Obama

More "do as I say, not as I do" lovin' from His Royal Hypocrisy Senator Obama. The good senator is a vocal proponent on the campaign trail of "pay equity" for women. Senator Obama has even gone so far as to say that his Republican rival, John McCain is opposed "to equal pay for equal work."

Yet, according to National Review, it turns out Obama pays his female Senate staffers only 83 cents for every dollar he pays his male Senate staff. Of his top five highest paid staffers, only one is female. In the top twenty highest paid, only seven were women.

In contrast, Senator McCain pays his female Senate staff $1.04 for every dollar he pays his male staff members. Three of his top five highest paid advisors are women, and thirteen of his top twenty highest-paid staffers are women.

From the National Review article:
Obama’s commitment to federally mandated pay equity stretches from the Rockies to Wall Street and beyond. And yet it seems to have eluded his United States Senate office. Compensation figures for his legislative staff reveal that Obama pays women just 83 cents for every dollar his men make.
...
On average, Obama’s female staffers earn just 83 cents for every dollar his male staffers make. This figure certainly exceeds the 77-cent threshold that Obama’s campaign website condemns. However, 83 cents do not equal $1. In spite of this 17-cent gap between Obama’s rhetoric and reality, he chose to chide GOP presidential contender John McCain on this issue.
...
On average, according to these data, women in John McCain’s office make $1.04 for every dollar a man makes. In fact, ceteris paribus, a typical female staffer could earn 21 cents more per dollar paid to her male counterpart — while adding $10,726 to her annual income — by leaving Barack Obama’s office and going to work for John McCain.
...
In short, these statistics suggest that John McCain is more than fair with his female employees, while Barack Obama — at the expense of the women who work for him — quietly perpetuates the very same pay-equity divide that he loudly denounces. Of all people, the Democratic standard bearer should understand that equal pay begins at home.

Now, lots of legitimate factors exist that may result in pay disparities between the sexes, and thus caution is advised whenever we examine conclusions from a fairly broad-brush analysis such as used in the cited article, particularly from such a small dataset. The fact remains, however, that Senator McCain employs a greater percentage of women on his Senate staff, in greater positions of responsibility (as indicated by their higher salaries) than does Senator Obama. Once again, McCain's actions trump Obama's lofty rhetoric.

Obama and McCain on Public Service

Wall Street Journal op-ed comparing Senators Obama and McCain's views on public service:
Mr. McCain certainly uses his bully pulpit to proselytize Americans about public service. But he more or less stops there, even repeatedly cautioning during the Columbia forum against federalizing public service, although that doesn't mean that he wouldn't throw taxpayer money at some of his pet service projects. However, his Web site offers nothing near what Mr. Obama is proposing.

Mr. Obama has laid out a 10-page vision statement that includes virtually every program proposed by the left and the right in recent memory and then some. President Bush's controversial faith-based initiative? He'll keep it. President Kennedy's Peace Corps? He'll double it. Even Mr. McCain's seven-year-old plan to raise a domestic civilian force to fight terrorism and triple enrollment in AmeriCorps gets a plug.
...
By Mr. Obama's account, he will make federal education aid conditional on schools requiring that high-school and even middle-school students perform 50 hours of service each year. He will also offer college students $4,000 every year for doing 100 hours of public service. That works out to $40 an hour -- a deal that only the very wealthy could refuse. (The Obama campaign puts the price tag for this alone at $10 billion.) He promises to provide older Americans who perform civic service with "additional income security, including assistance with retirement and family-related costs, and continuation of health-care coverage." But a government that links benefits to service can take away benefits for nonservice. ...

Read the op-ed here. So Senator Obama would pay college kids $40 an hour for activities that almost certainly aren't worth $40 an hour, given that most college graduates won't make that kind of cash right out of college. Assuming a 40-hour work week and a 50-week work year (with 2 weeks paid vacation), a $40 an hour pay rate equates to about an $80,000 a year salary. Very few college grads with liberal arts majors can expect to make that kind of dough right out of college. Heck, very few college engineering and science graduates can expect to pull down that kind of salary right out of college. Yet, under the Obama plan, college students (not even graduates) would get paid that kind of money to "community organize" and perform other such "public service" activities.

Meanwhile, those college kids who would otherwise have spent that time working at private businesses getting experience that might actually help them after graduation will likely instead be hard pressed to pass up those $40 an hour public service "opportunities".

As I noted back in July in this post, Senator Obama's grandiose plans for making America a better, safer, more prosperous place don't seem to include private enterprise. You know, the folks who actually produce the country's wealth and pay its taxes. Evidently, Senator Obama's plan for our future prosperity, and that of our children, involves turning America into a nation of government-funded "community organizers". After all, why "volunteer" for free, when the government will pay you to do so? And at lavish rates, paid for by the already beleaguered American taxpayer. You think the economy's bad now, just wait till President Obama gets his socialist, community-organizin' hands on it.

Obama and guns, Part 2,979

From NRA-ILA, on Senator Obama's vote to ban "semi-automatic assault weapons" while in the Illinois Senate. The bill, if it had become law, would also have banned many non-semi-autos as well:

Fairfax, Va. - At a rally in Lebanon, Virginia in front of a crowd of rural voters, Barack Obama made another one of his empty election-year promises not to take away shotguns, rifles or handguns if elected President. However, Obama's words on the campaign trail do not match his long record of opposing lawful gun ownership.
...
In 2003 while serving in the Illinois State Legislature, Obama voted in favor of a bill in the Judiciary Committee that would have made it illegal to "knowingly manufacture, deliver or possess" a so-called "semi-automatic assault weapons." Under this bill, a firearm did not actually have to be semi-automatic to be banned. According to definitions in the bill, all single-shot and double-barreled shotguns 28-gauge or larger, and many semi-automatic shotguns of the same size, would be banned as "assault weapons." This definition would have banned a large percentage of the shotguns used for hunting, target shooting and self-defense in the United States. The bill also would have banned hundreds of models of rifles and handguns. [emphasis added]

Any Illinois resident who possessed one of these commonly used guns 90 days after the effective date would have had to "destroy the weapon or device, render it permanently inoperable, relinquish it to a law enforcement agency, or remove it from the state." Anyone who still possessed a banned gun would have been subject to a felony sentence.

Article here, with links to sources.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why the office supplies are always low

Tonight's office supplies experiment:

[Satire] "Sarah Palin's murderous web of death"

Greg Gutfeld, host of Fox News' late, late, late night talk show Red Eye, writes a satirical piece parodying the Leftie media's desperate attempts to smear Governor Palin with anything they can think of, no matter how ludicrous. Ironically, his piece is published over at the left-leaning Huffington Post, site of much Palin-smearing:
It has been alluded in many places that Sarah was captain of the school's basketball team, playing point guard - a position that might have been filled by an African American had there been an actual African American in Alaska. Palin is said to have hit a last-second free throw to win the game. Tracking down witnesses to this event proves difficult - because there are so many.

"It's a lot of work," says my intern, who is currently unpaid.

Palin's nickname at the time was "Sarah Barracuda" perhaps because with barracudas, hand-feeding is discouraged. The same could be said of someone like Sarah, who - while eating - was rarely seen without a knife or fork. "It's what she does," says one observer, to the welcoming nods of other observers - who were nearby, observing.

One must wonder if George Orwell would have seen the irony in Palin winning the Miss Wasilla Pageant, for it happened, of course - in 1984, only a few miles from a local animal farm. Eerily, this is the same year that Richard Ramirez, also known as the Night Stalker, claimed his first victim. Whether Palin was in contact with Ramirez at the time cannot be verified, but when Palin finished second runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant, it is unlikely that the outcome sat well with either of them. Few experts know what drives serial killers to kill serially - but later, Palin winning the "Miss Congeniality" award, must have been icing on the cake.

Article here. Funny stuff.

Joe Biden's anti-gun record

From NRA-ILA, on Senator Biden's long anti-gun record:
Just like fellow Democrats Edward Kennedy, Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein, Biden has voted for, and actively pushed, major anti-gun bills, including those:

* Banning semi-automatic firearms;
* Banning hunting, sporting and self-defense ammunition;
* Banning magazines holding more than 10 rounds; and
* Imposing a waiting period on handgun sales.

Biden also voted against the law that prohibits lawsuits designed to bankrupt law-abiding firearm manufacturers and dealers. And he voted against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices who support the Second Amendment, and voted for the confirmation of Justices who do not.

The Brady Campaign sums it up in a straightforward fashion: "Senator Biden has been a consistent supporter of the Brady Campaign." According to the gun prohibition activist group, "Senator Biden was a key player in the fight for the federal assault weapons ban that passed in 1994. He also worked hard for passage of the Brady Law (sic)."

To hear Biden tell it, though, that's only half the story. Last year, during a debate with Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton, and other contenders for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Biden said, "I'm the guy who originally wrote the assault weapons ban."

Read the rest of Senator Biden's sorry history of voting against gun owners and the Second Amendment here.

Status of Chicago-area gun bans

Article on the status of the various gun bans in the Chicago area:
-- Lawsuits challenging Chicago's ban have been filed by the state and national NRA. Both are in early stages, says Jennifer Hoyle, spokeswoman for the city's law department. In July, Mayor Richard Daley said he'll fight to keep the ban.
...
-- Oak Park's ban, enacted in 1984 after a public referendum, remains on the books, says village spokesman David Powers.

-- Winnetka, Ill., has a ban but has not been sued by the NRA. Responses to the Supreme Court's action likely will be discussed by trustees this month, says Village Attorney Katherine Janega.

-- Morton Grove, Ill., repealed its 1981 ban in July, says Mayor Richard Krier. An NRA lawsuit was dropped last month. "We needed to have it settled," Krier says. "It wasn't a burning issue."

-- Wilmette, Ill., stopped enforcing its ban immediately after the Supreme Court ruling and wasn't sued, says Village President Chris Canning. It was repealed in July.

There had been no prosecutions for five years, he says, and repeal "doesn't make us any less safe. This isn't the Wild West."

-- Evanston ended its ban last month, but the NRA's lawsuit still is pending, says Alderman Steve Bernstein. A law firm offered to defend the city at no cost, and Bernstein says talks about reinstating the ban are under way.

Article here.

Happy Constitution Day

Op-ed from the Austin American-Statesman:
September 17 is Constitution Day, when Americans celebrate the birthday of our government and the 39 brave souls who signed the document that altered history.

As a Texas jurist, and a concealed handgun license-holder, I know that my fellow Texans love freedom ... and firearms. So no surprise when the Lone Star State combined the two and led a successful 31-state charge in the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the District of Columbia's gun ban. The Court's landmark Heller decision last June agreed 5-4 with Texas that "the District of Columbia's categorical gun ban is markedly out of step with the judgment of the legislatures of the fifty States, all of which protect the right of private citizens to own handguns."

Heller settled a long-fought debate: the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms unconditioned on militia service. Wall-to-wall bans like DC's are unconstitutional; less-sweeping regulations (no guns for felons) are "presumptively lawful"; and future cases will clarify the wide legal middle ground.

Op-ed here. The author is a justice on the Texas Supreme Court.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So, what can your dog do?

Tonight's canine humor:



:)