Witch’s Will For A Morning In April
I will remain in “mourning” so long as Obama’s unworthy ass sits in the Oval Office.
My Pick of the Litter Today
Guns Save Lives
By Thomas Sowell
We all know that guns can cost lives because the media repeat this message endlessly, as if we could not figure it out for ourselves. But even someone who reads newspapers regularly and watches numerous television newscasts may never learn that guns also save lives– much less see any hard facts comparing how many lives are lost and how many are saved.
But that trade-off is the real issue, not the Second Amendment or the National Rifle Association, which so many in the media obsess about. If guns cost more lives than they save, we can always repeal the Second Amendment. But if guns save more lives than they cost, we need to know that, instead of spending time demonizing the National Rifle Association.
The defensive use of guns is usually either not discussed at all in the media or else is depicted as if it means bullets flying in all directions, like the gunfight at the OK Corral. But most defensive uses of guns do not involve actually pulling the trigger.
If someone comes at you with a knife and you point a gun at him, he is very unlikely to keep coming, and far more likely to head in the other direction, perhaps in some haste, if he has a brain in his head. Only if he is an idiot are you likely to have to pull the trigger. And if he is an idiot with a knife coming after you, you had better have a trigger to pull.
Surveys of American gun owners have found that 4 to 6 percent reported using a gun in self-defense within the previous five years. That is not a very high percentage but, in a country with 300 million people, that works out to hundreds of thousands of defensive uses of guns per year.
Yet we almost never hear about these hundreds of thousands of defensive uses of guns from the media, which will report the killing of a dozen people endlessly around the clock.
Political Moderation and the Conservative Disposition
There have always been those in politics who are animated by the auto-da-fe. They thrive on relentless confrontation and want to (in the words of Ronald Reagan) go over the cliff with all flags flying. To be sure, such individuals can be a source of energy in a political party. They can also serve the purpose of stiffening spines when that is needed. And they may even be on the correct side of many public policy issues.
Yet it strikes me that in a deep sense, they do not possess a conservative disposition or even a particularly conservative outlook on the world. Rather, they have reinterpreted conservatism in order to fit their own temperament, which seems to be in a near-constant state of agitation, ever alert to identify and excommunicate those they perceive as apostates from the ranks.
One day it is Chris Christie; the next day it is Bob McDonnell, or Jeb Bush, or Mitch Daniels, or Eric Cantor, or Lindsay Graham, or Mitch McConnell, or someone somewhere who has gone crosswise of those who view themselves as prefects of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Great article! I have been confused for some time why those further right would make enemies of those nearer center. Haven’t they enough enemies without making them of those who would be friends? Is compromise, and I don’t mean on things of conscience, so bad that they would rather lose than give a little? I just don’t get it.
by Victor Davis Hanson
We live in a mythic age — but mythic in the sense of made-up.
The Coastal Aristocrat
In the last thirty years, I have probably spoken 200 times at a coastal university of some sort, most of which were on the Eastern seaboard. I spent eight years at UC Santa Cruz and Stanford. I go to Palo Alto every week to work, and often lecture or teach in southern California.
So I know the Bay Area and Los Angeles almost as well as I know the San Joaquin Valley and the culture of the Eastern seaboard. I talk sometimes with the media, academics, foundation heads, a few in entertainment, and some politicians. All are coastal-based. Here is what I’ve learned over the last three decades about the mythologies of our national oligarchy.
There is a liberal coastal aristocrat, but he is really not very liberal, at least in the sense of his regressive life not matching his progressive rhetoric. His views are mostly conditioned on his education, salary, and material circumstances. Put the coastal aristocrat in charge of a 7-Eleven in Stockton, and his therapeutic view would turn tragic quite quickly. And that fear is why he rarely goes to either a 7-Eleven or Stockton.
Let me give a few examples.
Fracking is seen as mostly bad, not because of any firsthand knowledge, any in-depth reading of the literature, any quid pro quo, or any cost/benefit analysis of the effect of more oil and gas production on the lives of the poor, but largely because the coastal aristocrat senses that he 1) has quite enough money and job security to ignore the price of gas, 2) does not drive all that much in comparison to the red-state interior Neanderthal, and 3) receives enormous psychological comfort and social acceptance from the fact that he is opposed to carbon emissions. Why, he wonders, do the poor on the way to work drive those gas-guzzling used Yukons, when a second-hand Prius would work just as well?
Illegal immigration? The Palo Alto aristocrat’s position is predicated on two realities: his hardworking nanny, yardman, and cook are often rather recent arrivals from Mexico, and he most certainly does not wish his children to attend school anywhere near Redwood City. Thus he is for “comprehensive immigration reform,” with the understanding that the benefits are his, and for others the downside.
Taxes? They are the cost of a utopian worldview, a mordida necessary to live in Cambridge or Santa Monica. For the aristocrat making over $500,000 a year, a few extra thousand dollars a year is a price worth paying, at least for the psychological guarantee that the distant food-stamp recipients, who mostly go to Safeway rather than Ralphs or Whole Foods, are content to live their happy lives as they do. Pay up the penance and be done with the guilt is the creed.
Guns? For the coastal elite, who do not hunt, who do not live in a dangerous neighborhood, and who believe the Bill of Rights are sacrosanct to the degree they support progressive change and fluid when they do not, guns more or less should just go away. Of course, the celebrity, the CEO, and the politician may need “security,” but no one much asks what hides inside the coats of the husky men at their sides.
Education? Public unions are saintly. Charter schools and vouchers are satanic. But the aristocrat, who knows best what is good for the masses, prefers and can afford the private school, and feels no guilt in his choice because his version is liberal while the more low-brow alternative is often crappy and not that much better than the public offering. (E.g., if you wish to duck out of the public school system, at least have the class to do it with style rather than on the cheap: a Castilleja or Andover rather than First Christian Academy.)
In lieu of the traditional aristocrat estate, peerage, or title, the outward manifestation of aristocracy is an Ivy League brand or a West Coast Stanford version. The proper campus is one’s lifelong entrée. The right quad is where your kids meet the right mate and receive a bumper sticker that opens the right doors. Such university snobbery is inconsistent with classical liberalism, but not with liberal aristocratic values, which are based on exclusionary criteria. For the NBC anchor, or the Massachusetts senator, or the Google executive, the key is to get your kid into the right prep school, as requisite for the even more correct Ivy League, where the perfect spouse and Facebook founders-like coterie are found. It is not just that junior will emerge with correct ideas about gay marriage, abortion, green power, the U.S. role abroad, and the poor, but that he will be seen, by virtue of his degree, as having the right ideas.
Apartheid is the unifying theme of coastal aristocracy. Without it, reality would disabuse the grandee of his worldview. Take any tenured Berkeley professor of environmental studies and make his existence hinge on squeezing a daily profit out of a Selma Stop-N-Go, and this gentle brontosaurus would turn into a Tyrannosaurus rex in a nanosecond. Therefore exclusion of all sorts from the underbelly of America is an essential.
I always enjoy Professor Hanson’s articles. This one too and then some. He articulates what many of us “feel” but cannot put into words. I also enjoyed reading the part about Caesar Chavez since he was a topic on “The Five” yesterday and Beckel was trying to make him some kind of a Saint. Yay Victor Davis Hanson!
Is Disability the New Welfare?
By Jonah Goldberg
The government in Britain recently did something interesting.
It asked everyone receiving an “incapacity benefit” — a disability program slowly being phased out under new reforms — to submit to a medical test to confirm they were too disabled to work. A third of recipients (878,000 people) didn’t even bother and dropped out of the program rather than be examined. Of those tested, more than half (55%) were found fit for work and a quarter were found fit for some work.
But that’s Britain, where there’s a long tradition of gaming the dole. Americans would never think of taking advantage of the taxpayers or misleading the government. Well, except for the couple dozen people who have pleaded guilty to scamming the Long Island Rail Road’s federal disability system in a $1-billion fraud scheme. That would pay for a lot of White House tours.
Though hardly isolated, the LIRR scandal is an obvious black-and-white case of criminality. The real problem resides in a grayer area.
In 1960, when vastly more Americans were involved in physical labor of some kind, 0.65% of workforce participants between the ages of 18 and 64 were receiving Social Security disability insurance payments. Fifty years later, in a much healthier America that number has grown to 5.6%.
In 1960, 134 Americans were working for every officially recognized disabled worker. Five decades later that ratio fell to roughly 16 to 1.
Some defenders of the status quo say these numbers can be explained by the entry of women into the U.S. workforce, the aging of baby boomers and the short-term spike in need that came with the recession.
No doubt those are significant factors. But not nearly so significant as to explain why the number of people on disability has been doubling every 15 years (while the average age of recipients has gone down) or why such a huge proportion of claim injuries can’t be corroborated by a doctor.
Those Irritating Verbs-as-Nouns
by Henry Hitchings
“Do you have a solve for this problem?” “Let’s all focus on the build.” “That’s the take-away from today’s seminar.” Or, to quote a song that was recently a No. 1 hit in Britain, “Would you let me see beneath your beautiful?”
If you find these sentences annoying, you are not alone. Each contains an example of nominalization: a word we are used to encountering as a verb or adjective that has been transmuted into a noun.
Many of us dislike reading or hearing clusters of such nouns, and associate them with legalese, bureaucracy, corporate jive, advertising or the more hollow kinds of academic prose. Writing packed with nominalizations is commonly regarded as slovenly, obfuscatory, pretentious or merely ugly.
There are two types of nominalization. Type A involves a morphological change, namely suffixation: the verb “to investigate” produces the noun “investigation,” and “to nominalize” yields “nominalization.”
Articles like this remind me that I also get “sloppy” from time to time and that I use expletives when more descriptive terms would better serve and add to what I write. However I don’t believe the sins against language described above are ones I commit. Probably because they annoy me too without my ever having been able to understand just why. Mr. Hitchings articulates that for me. For which I am grateful.
What Up With Republicans & Democrats?
Five reasons why Colbert Busch could beat Mark Sanford
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) has the inside track in Tuesday’s GOP primary runoff for the state’s open House seat, but a victory hardly provides him a chance to rest easy.
The reason: Businesswoman Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D) has been running a strong campaign and observers in both parties believe the May 7 special election could be close despite the district’s heavy Republican lean.
Sanford would begin the general election campaign as the favorite if he wins Tuesday’s Republican primary over former Charleston city councilman Curtis Bostic, say both Democrats and Republicans.
But a Colbert Busch upset could be in the offing.
Here are five reasons why the Democratic candidate, best known nationally as the sister of late-night satirist Stephen Colbert, might be able to pull off an upset.
1. Voters haven’t forgiven Mark Sanford
A number of voters continue to feel betrayed by Sanford over the 2009 scandal that cost him his reputation and a promising political future — when he admitted to an extramarital affair after telling staffers he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
A recent survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed that 58 percent of voters hold an unfavorable opinion of Sanford, while just 34 percent like him.
Even more troubling for the former governor: Fully 39 percent of Republicans in the poll disapprove of him, while 55 percent approved.
Looks to me like another state is about to go blue thanks to the stupidity of the Republican Party. If Sandford wins the primary then the GOP deserves to loose to Democrat Colbert Busch. Hell, I’d vote for her over him and I loathe Democrats!
WASHINGTON — The school choice movement — which germinated 50 years ago in free-market economist Milton Friedman’s fertile mind — recently counted its largest victory. The Indiana Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the state’s school voucher program. Under it, more than half a million low- and middle-income Hoosier students — and about 62 percent of all families — are eligible for state aid to help pay for a private or religious school.
This is what school choice has traditionally lacked: scale.
Since the first experiment in Milwaukee in 1990, voucher programs have been resisted by a powerful combination of interests. Teachers’ unions have fought what they regard as a diversion of resources from public education — while conveniently undermining a source of professional competition and accountability. But this opposition has been empowered by the skepticism of many suburban parents, who have paid a premium to buy homes in better school districts. When educational outcomes become less connected to the ZIP code you inhabit, some property values will decline.
It is a paradox Friedman would have appreciated. Vouchers have been blocked by unions resisting market forces and by suburban parents reflecting those forces. Not surprisingly, support for school choice programs is often twice as high among urban residents as it is among suburban ones.
This has generally relegated vouchers to the margins of education reform, in underfunded micro-programs aimed at the very poorest. The District of Columbia’s scholarship program, for example, capped participants at 3 percent of the student population while increasing funding for public education. The political price of providing vouchers to disadvantaged children has often been to shield public schools from even the mildest competitive pressure.
A limited choice program is not the same thing as a healthy, responsive educational market. “A rule-laden, risk-averse sector,” argues Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, “dominated by entrenched bureaucracies, industrial-style collective-bargaining agreements and hoary colleges of education will not casually remake itself just because students have the right to switch schools.”
But even small, restricted choice programs have shown promising results — not revolutionary, but promising. Last year a group of nine leading educational researchers summarized the evidence this way: “Among voucher programs, random-assignment studies generally find modest improvements in reading or math scores, or both. Achievement gains are typically small in each year, but cumulative over time. Graduation rates have been studied less often, but the available evidence indicates a substantial positive impact. … Other research questions regarding voucher program participants have included student safety, parent satisfaction, racial integration, services for students with disabilities, and outcomes related to civic participation and values. Results from these studies are consistently positive.”
Only recently, a few innovative governors — particularly former Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana — have decided to bring this promise to scale. The Louisiana Supreme Court will soon issue a judgment on Jindal’s program. The Indiana verdict could hardly have been more favorable to the choice movement. The court found that Indiana is serving valid educational purposes both by maintaining a public schools system and by providing options beyond it. And it held (as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002) that including religious schools as an option does not establish religion. “Any benefit to program-eligible schools, religious or non-religious,” the Indiana court concluded, “derives from the private, independent choice of the parents.”
IBD/TIPP Poll: Obama Support Dives After Sequester Flop
President Obama’s approval rating tumbled to a 16-month low in the latest IBD/TIPP survey released Monday as the sequester fight appeared to hurt his standing with partisans on both sides.
The IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index fell 6.2% to 48.4, the lowest since December 2011. That ended five months over 50, which signifies support.
His rating among Republicans fell 4.3 points to 12.8, while his approval among Democrats sank 4.2 points to 81. His support among single women, a key source of his liberal support, has fallen from 74.6 at the time of his re-election to just 57.3 now. All those readings were the lowest in more than a year.
These findings may reflect fallout over the sequester, the automatic cuts to defense and other discretionary spending that began March 1.
Independents were less negative about Obama, but the reading was below the 50 mark for the 41st straight month.
Just 30% of Americans give Obama a good grade on the budget vs. 47% opposed. In January, it was 32%-43%. Again, Republicans and Democrats led the decline, especially among those giving him an unacceptable “F.”
Teen mobs are back in Chicago
There’s nothing like the first warm weekend of spring to bring Chicago’s downtown to life. Right on cue, Saturday’s near-60-degree temperatures brought out the crowds on Michigan Avenue: strollers and shoppers, tourists — and troublemakers.
Police arrested 28 people, 25 of them juveniles, that night. Eleven females were arrested after an attack that occurred between two stops on the Red Line. Seventeen arrests were made along the Magnificent Mile after scores of roaming teens created chaos by blocking traffic, jostling pedestrians and fighting among themselves.
Nobody was seriously injured, though that episode on the “L” is the stuff of bad transit dreams. A gang of girls boarded the train, blowing smoke and flicking cigarette ashes, the victim told a Tribune reporter. They punched her and pulled her hair before grabbing her purse and jumping off at the next stop, she said. The oldest of the group, an 18-year-old, was charged with misdemeanor battery.
The shoving and taunting on Michigan Avenue led to charges of misdemeanor reckless conduct. Chicago police, summoned from other neighborhoods, were able to put a lid on things quickly.
“We’ve seen it before,” Police Supt. Garry McCarthy told NBC Chicago Monday. “We see it virtually every year when the weather gets warm.”
Yes, we’ve all seen it before. Two summers ago it was the talk of the nation. Crowds of youngsters — organized on social media and delivered by mass transit — entertained themselves by staging mass shoplifting raids, occupying a McDonalds for hours and pushing people off their bikes on the lakefront paths. At first, it seemed almost like sport.
The antics escalated to muggings and beatings. Groups of teens boarded CTA buses, attacking passengers and stealing their cellphones. One Saturday night, five attacks were attributed to the same group of young men. They terrorized their victims and walked away with a wallet, a bicycle and a handful of electronic gadgets.
Police ramped up their presence, especially around transit stops, and practiced “behavioral profiling” — if you’re a parent, you know exactly what that means — and things settled down until the next spring. Here we go again.
The challenge, as always, is to figure out how to deploy limited police resources. Chicago’s image has taken a hit lately for an alarming spike in homicides, punctuated by the shooting deaths of a high school majorette and a 6-month-old girl. McCarthy responded by flooding “hot zones” on the South and West sides with up to 400 extra officers a day, and it’s working. In the first three months of 2013, homicides dropped by more than 40 percent compared with last year. But that battle isn’t over. Nobody wants to move those officers to the Gold Coast to protect people from purse-snatchers.
That doesn’t diminish the urgency of the situation in the downtown retail and recreational district. Keeping the crowds under control isn’t just about safety, it’s about protecting the city’s economic vitality. Summer in Chicago is all about being outdoors in a crowd — at the beach, the festivals, the shopping corridors. Tourists won’t come if they’re afraid to walk the streets. Even the suburbanites will stay home.
New York’s future flees to Florida
Young people are moving to the Sunshine State for jobs
New Yorkers have long retired to the warmth and ease of the Florida coast, but eyebrow-raising numbers show that in recent years, most of those moving from the Empire State to the Sunshine State have been going there to find work.
Florida remains the top destination for outbound New Yorkers, but the new migrants are a lot younger than you’d expect.
According to the five-year American Community Survey, which the U.S. Census conducted from 2007 to 2011, 78% of the people who migrated from New York to Florida in those years were under age 60. The ages with the highest proportions of migrants to Florida were 18, 19, 21, 24, 28, 40 and 55.
Even leaving out the 18- and 19-year olds, many of whom are probably college students, that’s a lot of early retirees, and an astonishing number of young workers.
Even the numbers of New Yorkers moving to Florida in their late 30s and mid 40s aren’t much lower than the number of retirees moving at the end of their careers.
This means that an increasing number of New Yorkers either can’t afford to remain in their home state or can’t find work there — and are thus moving to states with friendlier business climates to find it.
Florida is not the only one: In 2011, other relatively pro-business states, like Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina, also continued to attract more migrants from New York than they sent there.
In our new edition of the biannual book “Freedom in the 50 States,” we look at the laws of every state in the country to determine which places make it easiest to live and work.
We find that New York ranks dead last on overall freedom.
For one, Mayor Bloomberg famously made New York City the laughingstock of the country by devoting his valuable political capital to that most pressing priority, preventing people from buying sweetened beverages larger than 16 ounces.
Though a judge struck the regulation down on the eve of its enactment earlier this month, the fact that Bloomberg even proposed it says a lot about New York politicians’ beliefs about the role of government in people’s lives.
Not surprisingly, politicians who think their job is to stop you from drinking Big Gulps aren’t particularly sympathetic to your desire to keep your money.
New Yorkers face the highest state and local tax burdens in the country, at 14% of income. Add in federal, Social Security and Medicare taxes, and lower-middle-class workers can end up sending close to 35% of their paychecks to the government.
Between 2000 and 2010, New York saw 1.7 million of its residents move to other states. While the births of new New Yorkers and the arrival of new immigrants kept the Empire State’s overall population from dropping, that means nearly 9% of the state’s 2000 population moved elsewhere.
Why wouldn’t we want to close the loophole that allows as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases to take place without a background check?”
— President Obama, remarks on gun safety, March 28, 2013
— tweet from @BarackObama, March 28
There are two key problems with the president’s use of this statistic: The numbers are about two decades old, yet he acts as if they are fresh, and he refers to “purchases” or “sales” when in fact the original report concerned “gun acquisitions” and “transactions.” Those are much broader categories of data.
This study was based on data collected from a survey in 1994, the same year that the Brady Act requirements for background checks came into effect. In fact, the questions concerned purchases in 1993 and 1994, and the Brady Act went into effect in early 1994 — meaning that some, if not many, of the guns were bought in a pre-Brady environment.
Digging deeper, we found that the survey sample was just 251 people. (The survey was done by telephone, using a random-digit-dial method, with a response rate of 50 percent.) With this sample size, the 95 percent confidence interval will be plus or minus six percentage points.
Moreover, when asked whether the respondent bought from a licensed firearms dealer, the possible answers included “probably was/think so” and “probably not,” leaving open the possibility the purchaser was mistaken. (The “probably not” answers were counted as “no.”)
Worth a Read:
Texas Slaying First Time in History Wife of U.S. Prosecutor Has Been Targeted
How Liberals Corrode Society
Civil Rights Attorney Calls Ben Carson ‘A Puppet of Sean Hannity’ – ‘You Created a Monster’
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia. ~ George Orwell