Comments on politics, the culture, economics and religion by Paul Tuns -- in short, everything about the human endeavour from a non-hyphenated conservative perspective. I am Toronto-based writer and editor, whose articles, columns and reviews have appeared in more than 35 publications. I am editor-in-chief of The Interim, Canada's life and family newspaper, author of Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal and a regular contributor to the book pages of the Halifax Herald.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
I totally endorse Donald Boudreaux's blog comments introducing the Uncommon Knowledge interview with Thomas Sowell, which is worth watching regardless of how often you've seen/heard Sowell interviewed (about his new book Intellectuals and Race).
Bloomberg News scandal
This isn't getting much coverage: Bloomberg LP spied on the terminal use of employees at several banks. And in government. Instapundit says the market will
How does a greater than 100% tax rate work?
Reuters reports: "More than 8,000 French households' tax bills topped 100 percent of their income last year, the business newspaper Les Echos reported on Saturday, citing Finance Ministry data." But don't worry, it's only a one-time thing because of the one-off 75% levy on the highest incomes.
(HT: Small Dead Animals)
Protect us from the police
The Associated Press reports:
A New York college student being held in a headlock at gunpoint by an intruder was accidentally shot and killed by a police officer who had responded to a report of the home invasion at an off-campus home, police said Saturday. Andrea Rebello was shot once in the head Friday morning by an officer who opened fire after the masked intruder pointed a gun at the officer while holding the 21-year-old Hofstra University student in a headlock, Nassau County homicide squad Lt. John Azzata said. In a tense confrontation with the officer, gunman Dalton Smith "menaces our police officer, points his gun at the police officer," Azzata said. The officer opened fire, killing Smith and his hostage.
The Associated Press, via the Toronto Star: "Honeybees trained in Croatia to find land mines."
The Republicans won't get the head of Eric Holder
Republicans are eager to claim a trophy firing amid the scandals that have flared up around the Obama administration. But after years of trying to get Holder, the attorney general doesn’t seem at all worried that it’ll be his.He’s already become the first attorney general ever to be held in contempt of Congress, after the Justice Department refused to comply with a House subpoena demanding documents about the department’s response to the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” scandal. He’s already been vilified by Republicans. He’s already been called on to resign.All the while, President Barack Obama has stood by Holder, invoking executive privilege against Congress for the first time in his presidency — and doing so in an unusually broad fashion that arguably undercut his pledge to run the most transparent administration. Apart from a barrage of unpleasant news coverage, little of consequence happened.
President Barack Obama's handling of scandal is reminiscent of former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien's: let the opposition fulminate, ignore it, and go on like nothing at all is happening. It worked for Chretien and it'll work for Obama. And it will infuriate the Right.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
De-Christianizing Britain in a hurry
It's happening faster than was thought, and can you guess which religious demographic is growing quickly? More at Blazing Cat Fur.
I take this as a sign of the Left's desperation
Hot Air's Stephen Green: "New liberal idea: Let’s raise $660 million online in a month to buy the LA Times before the Koch brothers can." The Left cannot countenance the idea of a moderately conservative businessman owning a large regional newspaper.
Breitbart reports: "In an interview with Bloomberg TV, former Obama chief of staff-turned-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew offered two conflicting yet carefully worded answers as to when he first learned that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had targeted Tea Party and conservative groups: he learned last week--and possibly before the 2012 election." I doubt there will be consequences for Lew -- see the Benghazi tragedy for how Obama administration bigwigs escape responsibility -- but it would be nice if he life became much more miserable for a while.
The Daily Caller: "Colorado sheriffs sue the state over new gun control laws."
Friday, May 17, 2013
I'm almost considering becoming a Philadelphia Eagles fan (not a sports post)
Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Eric Mathis pisses excellence in his protest against the IRS.
I like Kevin Williamson even more now
Business Insider: "Conservative Writer Becomes A Hero After Swiping Woman's Cell Phone In Theater And Throwing It Across The Room."
How to leak to the press
At Wired.com, Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, explains what one might want to do to hide their identify if they are leaking information to journalists.
MSM questioning of Obama a temporary phenomenon
Investor's Business Daily: "Obama Media Lapdogs Turn, But For How Long Is Unknown."
Harford on patents
Economist Tim Harford is not against patents -- they can foster long-term innovation by allowing inventors to profit from their creations -- but the system is open to abuse:
It’s clear that some industries are plagued by nuisance lawsuits. According to a survey by economists Bronwyn Hall and Dietmar Harhoff, firms complaining of infringement win more than half of court cases involving non-software patents, but only 13 per cent involving software patents. That suggests software suffers from weak patents and aggressive litigation, perhaps in the hope of extorting a settlement. It is not a good sign.
We must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to patents, but as Harford points out, the current system is far less than optimal. And ultimately we want smart people to spend time making new things rather than launching lawsuits or defending against them; the present system incentivizes parasitical lawsuits rather than the creation of useful products and services.
In praise of containerization
The Economist has an article on the container box, one of the most important inventions of all-time. According to a new paper, that the magazine summarizes: "The results are striking. In a set of 22 industrialised countries containerisation explains a 320% rise in bilateral trade over the first five years after adoption and 790% over 20 years. By comparison, a bilateral free-trade agreement raises trade by 45% over 20 years and GATT membership adds 285%." The Economist also notes the transformative power of container boxes:
More types of goods could be traded economically. Speed and reliability of shipping enabled just-in-time production, which in turn allowed firms to grow leaner and more responsive to markets as even distant suppliers could now provide wares quickly and on schedule. International supply chains also grew more intricate and inclusive. This helped accelerate industrialisation in emerging economies ...
One of my favourite books is Marc Levinson's The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger and it goes into many of these issues in much greater detail.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Three and out
3. Sixteen years ago Jason Grilli was drafted in the first round by the San Francisco Giants and as Jeff Sullivan says at Fangraphs, in 2013 (as a 36-year-old closer) "he’s reaching his potential" with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Of course, Grilli has been good the previous two years in a Bucs uniform, he "has been climbing for a long time, and now he’s pitching like an All-Star."
2. Steve Moyer has a very brief piece in the Wall Street Journal that imagines what MLB would be like if it were like the NFL. Hint: every game would feature a team's aces.
1. Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus has a very long article on "The Art of Pitch Framing" at Grantland. If that is the sort of thing that interests you, it is worth grabbing a beverage and then reading.
Ace of Spades: "Official In Charge of Tax-Exempt Division During Scandal Now Head of ObamaCare Enforcement Division." As Ace of Spades notes, Sarah Hall Ingram, commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012, "gets a promotion, and her successor, who knew about the scandal and didn't tell anyone but did not actually oversee it, takes the fall."
Additive manufacturing, guns, and constitutional protections
Ansel Halliburton at Tech Crunch looks at whether 3D-printed guns are legal and one of their angles is constitutional, but not the amendment you would think:
First Amendment Meets Second AmendmentI predict the Constitutional wrangling will focus on the First Amendment, not the Second. (For foreign readers, the First Amendment to the US Constitution provides extremely strong protections for citizens’ freedom of speech, and the Second Amendment provides a right “to keep and bear arms” — although the language is a mess and reasonable people disagree on how to interpret it.) This is going to spawn some strange bedfellows: I would not be surprised to see the NRA and ACLU on the same side in this fight.Why is this a First Amendment case? One of the issues is whether the government can prevent citizens from publishing gun blueprints. A big gateway question, though, is how to characterize Defense Distributed’s CAD files in the first place. Is a CAD file expressive speech that should be protected, or a functional thing that should be regulated? This distinction is important because the government has tremendous power to regulate things, but far less power to regulate speech. When courts first started to come to grips with software, they came out on the side of protecting it as speech despite its functional aspects, but they might view 3D printing files differently because when you “run” them, you get things.
I'm not convinced this will be successful, but Halliburton scores points for being novel.
Excellent advice to Republicans re: the current scandals
Ben Domenech, editor of The Transom, at RealClearPolitics, says Republicans need to make the scandals about liberalism, not Barack Obama:
Here’s the hard thing Republicans have to do if they don’t want this crisis to go to waste: they have to ignore their id, the temptation of the sugar high of partisan point-scoring. They must willfully set aside Obama’s presence in the fray, leaving the short term personalized attacks on the table, and go after the much bigger prize. Obama isn’t running for office again. Liberalism is. Making this about him is a short term boost to the pleasure center of the conservative brain. Making this about the inherent falsehood of the progressive project will help conservatism win.
The point is that these scandals cut at the core conceit of Obama’s ideology: the healthy and enduring confidence of big government to be good government ...
What we are seeing from the IRS and the DOJ is not something new, nor does it represent a perverse approach to benign bureaucracy: it is the inevitable consequence of an approach which puts mechanisms in place and then assumes they will not be used for ill. You should expect government to go as far as it can, whenever it can, in any ways that it can, toward the full exploitation of the power made available to it. Expecting government to behave otherwise is to expect the scorpion not to sting the frog.
McGuinty's singular skill
It was bravura performance from the ex-Premier. He didn't merely lie. He always does that. He lied magnificently. He raised the ancient art of political mendacity to unimagined heights. Even his enemies, who are legion, had to admit that it was something to behold. Just as Dalton McGuinty's mediocre years as Premier lowered the bar of political expectations, so his bald faced assertions have given new meaning to the phrase lying bastard.
The latest Public Policy Polling data bears sobering news for Senator Marco Rubio, showing his support among conservatives has substantially decreased since last month.When asked for their preferred GOP candidate, only 17% of “very conservative” respondents favored Rubio, while only 18% of “somewhat conservative” respondents favored Rubio.This is a steep decline from the same poll’s findings in April, when Rubio’s support was 26% among the“very conservative” and 22% among the “somewhat conservative.”
I don't think that conservatives are the be-all and end-all in the Republican primaries* but it is interesting to see that the party's version of Barack Obama (few accomplishments, favoured demographic, largely undefined ideologically) is losing support as this segment of voters gets to know more about him.
* If they were, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney would not have been the GOP presidential nominee in the last five elections.
IRS does Planned Parenthood's bidding
Breitbart reports on the IRS and its denial of tax-exempt status for the Coalition for Life Iowa:
The IRS scandal of targeting tea party or conservative organizations grew deeper Wednesday with the revelation that the agency denied tax-exempt status to a pro-life organization because of its hypothetical opposition of Planned Parenthood. The Thomas Moore Society, a public interest law firm announced that one of their clients was told that their approval as a non-profit was conditioned on a commitment not to protest outside Planned Parenthood abortion clinics.
The joke is on America
Instapundit: "JUST A REMINDER: Obama joked about auditing his enemies in 2009."
Nobody watches the CBC
Media Trends has a very good analysis on the poor ratings of the state broadcaster.
(HT: Blazing Cat Fur)
Handful of residents offended, Radstock bans English flag
The Daily Telegraph reports: "A local council decided against flying the flag of St George after concerns were raised that it would offend the town’s 16 Muslim residents." British Muslim groups say decision was "going a bit far."
(HT: Blazing Cat Fur)
Kissinger was right: even the paranoid can have real enemies
Investor's Business Daily editorializes:
Perhaps the most sinister aspect of the president's parade of scandals is that just days before they broke, he mocked as paranoid those concerned about government excesses.On May 5, while giving the commencement address at Ohio State University, President Obama advised graduates to put all their trust in government and reject those shrill "voices" that say it's the source of our problems.Ignore these limited-government types, he told the class of 2013, who warn "tyranny lurks just around the corner."Only, Obama himself has proved our fears are well-founded. Government, particularly governance by this rogue regime, needs more checks, not fewer; more skepticism, not less. Tyranny isn't lurking around the corner. It's now upon us, manifest in the pattern of misuse and abuse of government power by this presidency ...
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
The allure of wielding the IRS as a political weapon
Reason's J.D. Tuccille in Hit & Run, reacting to news that President Barack Obama
Of course, it will happen again, under administrations Republican and Democratic, because it has happened again and again. The IRS is just one of many political weapons so potent and tempting that presidents can't resist wielding hem against their critics. The problem is the concentration of coercive power, and its availability to people who find a career of using such power to be an attractive prospect. "Safeguards" won't change that.
Three and out
3. At Hardball Talk, Joe Posnanski recently considered the question of whether the New York Yankees are magical. That is, how come so many rejects from other teams rediscover former greatness or rise to new heights when they put on the pinstripes. He doesn't answer the question and most are probably nothing more than small sample performances or freakishly lucky stretches. But from Shawn Chacon to Raul Ibanez to Vernon Wells, numerous players have done well in a Yankees uniform when they weren't expected to be anything all that special. The second half of the article (starting with Shawn Chacon) that looks at these past players and the current Yankees lineup (that shouldn't be producing the second best record in MLB right now) is especially worth reading.
2. Cee Angi at SB Nation looks at how numerous players have performed in their bobblehead promotion games. Angi says, "they seem to bring mostly good luck, especially where home runs are concerned." Poor Baltimore Orioles OF Nolan Reimold missed his bobblehead night because he was sent to the minors just prior to the promotion.
1. I really liked Brad Johnson's piece at Hardball Times on the Philadelphia Phillies and their need to "retool but not reboot." Johnson concludes: "The Phillies do not have the luxury of pursuing a pure buy or sell strategy. They must delicately lace the two together to weave a newly competitive roster." It is a thoughtful article on the situation in Philly and what can be realistically done with their current roster and who they having waiting in the minors. I don't think Philly's signing of minor league pitcher Carlos Zambrano changes the article all that much.
Kathleen Wynne is really sorry
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne went on The Agenda last night to repeatedly apologize for the McWynnety Liberals wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on the two cancelled gas plants. Well she didn't use the word "wasted" but she did say sorry 11 times. But as my wife says to our younger children: "Saying sorry is well and good but how are you going to make it better." Real contrition requires sacrifice, not merely the mouthing of words. Wynne should show how sorry she is by making a painful or risky contrition; I prefer Liberals personally repaying taxpayers out of their own pocket but that is not realistic so how about forcing by-elections for all Liberal MPPs in the affected ridings (ridings where the gas plants were located and those adjacent to them), or better yet a resignation from the legislature by all those involved in the decision starting with Dalton McGuinty. If she were really sorry say "we broke the trust you gave us and we have no moral authority to govern until you give us that authority again," and call an election. If she wants meaningful but less painful action, Wynne should kick McGuinty out of the Liberal caucus as real punishment for the political decisions he admits making. But mouthing the word sorry without backing it with action is meaningless, no matter how many times she utters her empty apologies. And saying "I take responsibility" is not the same as actually taking responsibility. Telling the public what "I feel" is not a corrective. "Moving on" as Wynne insists needs to be done, is about avoiding responsibility. The words sound great, but they shouldn't fool anyone and the Liberals shouldn't get away with this.
When the pack turns
Treacher to media re: Obama: 'you slobbered all over him like a bunch of idiots'
The slobbering might be coming to an end (but I doubt it). The Daily Caller's Jim Treacher: "The only difference between this week and every other week for the last 4 years is that for once we’re not the only ones paying attention." The slobbering might be coming to an end (but I doubt it). Treacher also notes that Larry Conners, a journalist who asked Barack Obama tough questions during the election campaign last year, was investigated by the IRS.
Most 'frugal' people (until they are on the taxpayer's dime)
MSN.ca has a slide show of the most frugal people, featuring billionaires and athletes, but also First Lady Michelle Obama. Here's the cutline under the First Lady's photo:
Part of being a first lady, at least in 2013, is connecting with the people - appealing to the very richest families as well as the poorest. Michelle Obama, for her part, has done well at this, fostering an everywoman image largely due to her shopping habits. While she may step out in a designer gown at one appearance or another, Obama is candid about her normal retail behaviour, often being photographed combing the aisles at cheap-chic stores like Target or H&M.
And here's a Daily Mail headline from a year ago: "Michelle Obama's $500,000 shopping trip: Huge taxpayer bill for First Lady's Spanish beach getaway revealed." But reports of an expensive lingerie shopping spree with the wife of a Qatar emir were apparently false. Perhaps Michelle Obama is cheap when she has to pay for things herself, but when she can shop/dine/travel at taxpayer expense, she isn't counting pennies.
Markets in deception
The New York Post: "Rich Manhattan moms hire handicapped tour guides so kids can cut lines at Disney World." The cost is over $1,000 per eight-hour day (to do Disney properly, with lines, takes much more than eight hours) for a disabled guide. I'm dubious that It's a Small World has 2.5-hour lines, although newer rides might. I'm not sure I'm against gaming the system this way and at the steep cost, I don't think it's actually much of a problem for those who must endure these queue-jumpers.
(HT: Tyler Cowen)
IG report on IRS
Breitbart summarizes the Inspector General of the U.S. Treasury report on the Internal Revenue Service. Two most notable findings:
Over an 18-month period, all applicants with the words "Tea Party" in their names were reviewed; later, "Patriots" and "9/12" were added; other names included "We The People."58% of the groups chosen for review received requests for information from the IRS that were "unnecessary," including the names of donors and "the type of conversations and discussions members and participants" had at meetings.
Related, James Bovard in the Wall Street Journal: "A Brief History of IRS Political Targeting." Bovard in his introductory paragraph writes, "As David Burnham noted in 'A Law Unto Itself: The IRS and the Abuse of Power' (1990), 'In almost every administration since the IRS's inception the information and power of the tax agency have been mobilized for explicitly political purposes'." Franklin Roosevelt went after newspapers critical of his agenda, John F. Kennedy threatened to sic the IRS on conservative groups, and Richard Nixon had the IRS investigate a wide range of political groups.
I'm betting this marriage doesn't last
Huffington Post: "Mohammed Ahmed, Illinois Man, Arrested For Soliciting Prostitute While On His Honeymoon." The new bride finds out when she called the cops because the new hubby took too long to return to the hotel.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Three and out
3. OF Curtis Granderson returned to the New York Yankees lineup tonight and It's About the Money looks at what to do with an outfield that includes Grandy and the producing trio of Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, and Vernon Wells. For a while there will be a rotation that includes time at the DH spot, but eventually one of Gardner, Suzuki or Wells will probably play themselves out of a regular spot. As IATM says, it is too bad that Jayson Nix and Chris Nelson can't be dropped but as long as Wells doesn't play the hot corner ...
2. Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge played left-handed hitter Raul Ibanez in the DH spot tonight against New York Yankees southpaw CC Sabathia because he had some success against the pitcher. Dave Cameron at Fangraphs explains why this is extremely stupid: "The Mariners are starting a left-handed hitting DH who can’t hit lefties against a lefty killing LHP because of batter/pitcher match-up data. And it is perhaps the perfect example of how not to use numbers." Even though Ibanez had two hits in the game, Wedge's process was incorrect.
1. At Sports On Earth, Matthew Cory looks at the 11 teams that have no realistic chance to make the post-season. It's funny that I want to argue with the Los Angeles Dodgers (15-22) being written off in this second week of May but not the Los Angeles Angels (14-24), even though are loaded with mega-talent. I also think it is strange that the 16-20 Milwaukee Brewers are not included on the write-off list but the 16-22 Chicago Cubs make the "no doubter" list of playoff misses.
Gosnell is unique. Or not.
William Saletan in Slate today: "The bad news for pro-lifers — and the good news for everybody else — is that Gosnell really is an outlier. Other abortion clinics don’t do what he did to patients or live-born babies." I don't think that killing babies born alive in abortion facilities is commonplace but it probably isn't as rare as pro-aborts would like to pretend. Life Dynamics Inc. interviewed former abortuary staff, and LifeSiteNews.com reports:
An abortionist who is now facing a criminal investigation would regularly allow late-term babies to be born alive, then twist their heads off with his bare hands, according to a videotaped interview conducted by three of his employees.“Most of the time the fetus [sic] would come all the way out before he either cut the spinal cord or introduced one of the instruments into the soft-spot of the fetus in order to kill the fetus,” said Deborah Edge, one of the employees. “Either that or twisting the head off the neck with his own bare hands.”“Most of the time we'd see ... the fetus would come all the way out, and of course the fetus was still alive,” she said, adding that the doctor's assistants could see the newborns breathing.The abortionist also suffocated babies by putting his finger down their windpipes, and placed living babies inside trash bags ...
Edge said she routinely observed the doctor “hurting patients on the table” and not telling victims of botched abortions that he had lacerated their cervixes or uteruses.
Police look for hate crimes, don't find any
The Jewish Tribune reports on Pamela Geller's visit to the Zionist Center in Toronto last night:
Although the Toronto Police Service (TPS) had not received any complaints about Geller’s appearance, members of its hate crimes unit were in the audience monitoring what was said, TPS Spokesperson Mark Pugash confirmed. Nothing Geller and her hosts said crossed the line into hate speech, according to police.
(HT: Blazing Cat Fur)
University offers double whammy for many students
CNBC reported on the weekend that according to a new McKinsey and Co. study, many students "face what it calls a 'unique paradox'" in that "young people are qualified—even overqualified, in many cases—to enter the workplace, most of them feel ill-suited to tackle the harsh realities of an evolving job market."
Investor's Business Daily asks: "Will The IRS Abuse Its ObamaCare Enforcement Powers Too?"
Hipsters: annoying and unpopular
Hot Air's Katie Pavlich points to a survey which finds hipsters not very popular, and quotes Red Alert Politics:
A new poll by Public Policy Polling found that only 16 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the subculture, while just 23 percent of Americans believe that hipsters make a positive cultural contribution to society.
I like Pavlich's description of hipsters as hippies with money.
'Howard Kurtz and Niall Ferguson were forced to grovel by Big Gay, Inc.'
Kathy Shaidle at PJ Media:
Jason Collins is gay, therefore Jason Collins has always been gay.That he’s gay is everybody’s business, but it’s nobody’s business that John Maynard Keynes was.Get it?You’d better.
Iggy speaks about his epic fail in Canadian politics
Michael Ignatieff's Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics will be released in September and according to the Globe and Mail, in his reflections about politics Ignatieff will supposedly be candid about his time as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada as he dragged it down to third-place in Parliament. Anne-Marie Slaughter and Mario Vargas Llosa blurb the book. I found Slaughter's blurb hilarious; it begins: "The shelves are full of memoirs written by successful politicians, painting their careers with the rosy glow of battles won." Iggy's isn't that type of memoir.
Graduation advice from economists
Planet Money has "Advice For Graduation Day" from economists. Generally good, but the most important is an appreciation of sunk costs. I also like Emily Oster's advice: "If you think your job will just be a job, pick one that pays well per hour and leaves you some time off, even if the activity of the job is boring. Since the world is full of people looking for a job that feeds their passion, if you are willing to do something which most people are not passionate about (accountant? Tax attorney?) there's an arbitrage."
Monday, May 13, 2013
Let them eat bugs
The Associated Press reports on the United Nations and its plan to feed people: "The Food and Agriculture Organization on Monday hailed the likes of grasshoppers, ants and other members of the insect world as an underutilized food for people, livestock and pets."
Three and out
3. The Washington Post has an excellent article on Bryce Harper's sweet swing. Good graphics. Great sports journalism. Comparisons to Babe Ruth's swing seem to be warranted.
2. Mileage may vary, but I liked Emma Span's article on Baseball-Reference's sponsorship ads.
1. Hardball Talk's Bill Baer talks about Drew Davidson's Star-Telegram article in which pitcher Derek Lowe blames statistical analysis for his inability to get a better contract with a Major League Baseball team at the age of 40. One doesn't need a reliance of sabermetrics to understand Lowe's pitching at a below-average (to put it kindly) level and that it would take an incredible amount of intangibles to counter the risk of taking on a declining veteran pitcher at an inflated price.
Making the police safer for the public
Reason's Brian Doherty has "An (Alas) Modest Proposal for Rethinking Typical Police Practice When it Comes to Killing Suspects on the Street." In short, when the alleged crime is not one that seriously harmed people, "if the choice comes between standing down or imposing an instant death sentence, standing down might be the regrettable but in this instant least-bad option." This is not an anti-cop position, but one that asks for employees of the state with a virtual license to kill to use some common-sense discretion when it comes to discharging their weapons.
Guns and accidental children's deaths
John Lott on the dangers lurking in other people's houses (hint: guns shouldn't worry you):
The CDC reports that for 2010 (the latest year available), one single six-year old died from a gunshot. For all children younger than 10, there were 36 accidental gun deaths, and that is out of 41 million children. Perhaps most important, about two-thirds of these accidental gun deaths involving young children are not shots fired by other little kids but rather by adult males with criminal backgrounds. In other words, unless you send your child to play at a criminal’s home, she is exceedingly unlikely to get shot.Indeed, if you are going to worry about your child’s safety you should check into other, perhaps less obvious dangers lurking in the playmate’s house: swimming pools, bathtubs, water buckets, bicycles, and chemicals and medications that can cause fatal poisoning. Drownings alone claimed 609 deaths; fires, 262 lives; poisonings, 54 lives. And don’t forget to ask about the playmate’s parents’ car and their driving records if your child will ride with them: After all, motor-vehicle accidents killed 923 children younger than 10.
That said, while guns present a miniscule risk compared to pools, poisons, and cars, even those "more dangerous" items cause very few accidental deaths.
The idea of stranger abduction is super scary but the fact it is a very rare crime. The Washington Post has five myths about missing children and two key points stand-out:
Stranger abductions, such as the case of the three young women in Cleveland, are fearsome because they appear random and so often involve rape or homicide. But children taken by strangers or slight acquaintances represent only one-hundredth of 1 percent of all missing children. The last comprehensive study estimated that the number was 115 in a year.
The Cleveland case has prompted a spate of missing-children articles and news reports: “Missing Children in America: Unsolved Cases,” “Search for missing children never ends in Las Vegas,” “LA Missing Children’s Families May Feel Renewed Hope.” It may seem like we’re in the midst of an epidemic. In reality, though, all signs indicate that the problem has been improving. Many state missing-children agencies show declining numbers of cases. That trend is supported by FBI statistics showing fewer missing persons of all ages — down 31 percent between 1997 and 2011.
Most missing children are either snatched by parents in custody disputes or runaways. Of course, those stories are less sensational and don't generate consumers for media or voters for politicians.
Maybe I'm wrong about 2016
Before the 2012 presidential election I've been predicting that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will be the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. But maybe not. The New York Post's Frederic Dicker writes:
Disenchanted members of Gov. Cuomo’s administration, embarrassed by the worsening government scandals and convinced that Cuomo won’t be president, will soon leave their jobs — just as the governor is stepping up plans to run for re-election next year.
Jonathan Rauch's non-sex life
The Atlantic Books is a new "longform digital imprint" and its debut release is Jonathan's Rauch's Denial: My 25 Years Without a Soul, which is excerpted at The Atlantic's website. The excerpt has way too much detail about Rauch's clumsy, unfullfilling, and ultimately uncommunsated initial attempts at a sexual relationship with a member of the opposite sex. The story is is uncomfortable and I can't but help think that I will never quite view Rauch, who is one of the better political observers when he isn't talking about sex (gay or straight), the same way again.