Sunday, April 29, 2018
Brief Movie Review -- Infinity War
Hit all the emotions of the audience often and well. Not a huge amount of intellectual content but not bad for a movie based on comic books.
What's up with Thanos' obsession with Malthusian economics? The guy's a moron.
The life choices at the end were justified and right, with one exception.
What's up with the oxymoronic role of Peter Dinklage.
Always take the headshot.
Hope it sells a $Billion in tickets.
Labels: Infinity War Brief Review
Concealed Carry Analysis
Here is a bit of coverage from the Nation about a study I find incomprehensibly stupid. Unfortunately, the story contains no link to the study itself, which is pretty damning right there.
So let's look at the story. The headline is: Actually, Guns Do Kill People. No, actually they don't, but people do use guns to kill people. And that happens all over the world at varying rates in each country. These differences in rates of gun murders have very little to do with gun control legislation. These differences have everything to do with the culture of the country.
Here is the sub-headline: The research is now clear: Right-to-carry laws increase the rate of violent crime.
Based on that statement, one would expect the research which the story is talking about actually to show increases in violent crimes in states that have a shall-issue, concealed carry permit system. Almost all of America has that system, 42 states. Only 8, all solidly blue on the political color chart, let law enforcement deny qualified citizens the right to carry guns concealed about their person.
By way of brief history. In the 80s it was just the opposite; almost all the states allowed law enforcement officials to deny applications for concealed carry and as the sweeping change started, the gun haters all predicted that increasing the number of concealed carry permits would cause increased violent crime, especially assaults and murders with guns. It would be the wild west again and the streets would run with blood. But that never happened. The early 90s were the high tide of gun murders in America and despite the proliferation of shall-issue permit systems and a lot more guns in private hands over the next 20 plus years, the murder rate plummeted by over 42%. Here are the figures from the FBI for 2010 and 2015.
So I was eager to see the research that found the opposite of what the crime statistics clearly showed, that is, an actual increase in murders and assaults (most using guns) after the establishment of shall-issue permit systems. I have to admit, having read the stats for a few decades, I was very skeptical. But I was ready to learn.
Unfortunately, the research is not about actual figures but about what might have been. Look at what the story in the Nation describes;
But with an updated paper by legal scholars John Donohue and Abhay Aneja and economist Kyle Weber, there’s a new consensus: Right-to-carry laws actually increase the rate of violent crime. Ten years after a state passes a right-to-carry law, violent crime—which includes murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault—will be 13 to 15 percent higher than if the state had done nothing.
Wait. Since when is a single, unpublished paper a "new consensus"? It get's worse. The study calculated what the future rates of violent crime were supposed to be in each state? How? The story doesn't actually say, but it does tell us that there is a lot more data now. Yeah, data showing a massive decrease in violent crime since 1993. Here is the beginning of the Nation's explanation:
Starting in the early 1990s, violent crime plummeted across the United States. That reduction has masked the effects of right-to-carry laws, but the states that implemented them showed a smaller decrease in violent crime than the ones that didn’t.
Hold on there, kitty cat. Masked? How about right-to-carry laws were a primary cause of the plummet in violent crime?
OK, let's see what the rates of shall-issue states were against may-issue states. It will have to be a small sample, cause I just don't have to time to do more than two states. Let's compare Wyoming to Delaware. Wyoming passed shall-issue legislation in 1994; Delaware never did. The study says the incubation period from this change, or lack thereof, is 10 years. So, let's look at Delaware's murder rate and aggravated assault rate from 1990 to 1994 and from 2005 to 2009 and compare that to the Wyoming rates for both over the same time period. Here are the stats for Delaware. Here are the stats for Wyoming.
OK, from 1990 to 1994 Delaware had 170 murders (most will be from gunshot wounds but there was no break-down by weapon). That averages out to 34 per year and 5.12 per 100,000 people (I used the 1990 population number) After 10 years of not giving out concealed carry permits to every qualified citizen who wanted one, for the period 2005 to 2009, Delaware had 214 murders or 42.8 per year and 4.93 per 100,000. That's an actual rise in murders but per capita, it's a fall of .29 murders per 100,000 or a 6% fall in that rate. OK, at least it's going down.
From 1990 to 1994 Wyoming had 80 murders (less than half Delaware's even though the population difference between Wyoming and Delaware then was less than 1/3rd). That averages out to 16 per year and 3.45 per 100,000 people (still used the 1990 population number) After 10 years of giving out concealed carry permits to every qualified citizen who wanted one, for the period 2005 to 2009, Wyoming had 62 murders or 12.4 per year on average and 2.28 per 100,000. That's an actual drop in murders and, per capita, it's a fall of 1.17 per 100,000 or a 33.9% fall in that rate.
But wait, I thought the study the Nation is swooning over showed that Wyoming, compared to the closest in population blue state not handing out concealed carry permits like candy, should have had a 13 to 15% rise in murder rate after 10 years, or something like that, not a more than 1/3rd drop in the murder rate after 10 years of shall-issue carry permits? Hmm. Maybe that's an outlier. Let's do aggravated assault.
From 1990 to 1994 Delaware had 11,400 agg assaults (again most will involve guns). That averages out to 2280 per year and 342.34 per 100,000 people. After 10 years of not giving out concealed carry permits to every qualified citizen who wanted one, for the period 2005 to 2009, Delaware had 18,642 agg assaults or 3,728 per year and 421.28 per 100,000. That's an actual, substantial rise in the number of agg assaults and a per capita rise of 23%. Ouch. Most other states were having a general, substantial lowering of most violent crimes. Hmmm.
On the other hand, from 1990 to 1994 Wyoming had 5,737 agg assaults (again nearly half as many as Delaware). That averages out to 1147 per year and 253.29 per 100,000 people. After 10 years of giving out concealed carry permits to every qualified citizen who wanted one, for the period 2005 to 2009, Wyoming had 4927 agg assaults or 985.4 per year and 181.13 per 100,000. That's an actual, substantial drop in the number of agg assaults and a per capita drop in the rate of 28%. Delaware's went up 23%.
Perhaps Delaware should start handing out concealed carry permits like candy to the willing, qualified citizens. It's the only safe thing to do. But my calculations are not taking into account what these crime rates would have been in Wyoming had there been no change in the law regarding concealed carry permits.
But I have to think that these actual, historical numbers make the "study" and the story on it pretty much complete bullshit.
How did the "study" get it so completely wrong? Here's an interesting admission:
The authors of this new paper have taken advantage of cutting-edge statistical techniques. They constructed synthetic control groups for states and used what’s known as a LASSO analysis to pick the best variables for comparison.
Synthetic control groups? Why not just look at the actual rates? But the question stands and remains unanswered. How do you know what the rate of murders and assault in a state would have been if the state hadn't gone to shall-issue permits?
Is LASSO analysis something akin to crystal ball gazing?
I presume because the actual, historical crime rate statistics didn't give the gun haters any data with which to support their efforts to take away law abiding peoples' civil rights, they had to go with this mumbo-jumbo regarding estimates of crime rates in an unreal place with an alternative history. Normal people might well think "what might have been" is pretty much unknowable in an alternative universe, LASSO analysis notwithstanding.
Really stupid study that shows pretty much nothing at all.
Labels: Gun Control: Really Stupid Study
Saturday, April 28, 2018
Tweet of the Day
How long before a federal judge in Hawaii orders the Korean War must continue
Labels: Kings in Black Robes; Korea
Thursday, April 26, 2018
The Steele Dossier is Corroborated
The right is always going off on how the Steele Dossier is uncorroborated and in parts, to quote James Comey, is "salacious and unverified." Even Mr. Steele himself, in deposition for a libel lawsuit against him for things contained in the dossier, has said under oath that it was made up of bits of “raw intelligence” that are “unverified” and “warranted further investigation” before anyone relied upon them (or used the dossier to get a surveillance warrant from a FISA court). So there's that.
But look at all the things that have been verified in it.
- There is indeed a country called Russia.
- Donald Trump is a real person.
- Vladimir Putin, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Michael Cohen are all real people.
- Putin is the leader of Russia.
- Manafort worked as campaign manager for candidate Trump for a full three months.
- There is a city in Russia named Moscow and there is a Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow.
So there's quite a lot that is verified.
(Here's another take not quite as sarcastic from never salacious Andrew McCarthy)
Labels: Steele Dossier Verified
Monday, April 23, 2018
Thought of the Day
Contrast that with the situation faced by Andrew McCabe, who now lives under a bus where his former pal Shady James Comey threw him. He’s going to get prosecuted and there’s no pardon for him at the end of that rainbow. See, the thing is he knows he’s hanging out there alone. He knows that no one will help him. And he knows he’s actually guilty of something. All that makes for a very chatty Andy.
He’s an ex-cop and a pretty one at that, so prison’s not going to be much fun. If anyone will spill the beans – and McCabe knows where all the beans are planted – then the smart money is on him. Just think of the agony on the MSNBC panels when McCabe starts talking about the conspiracy to exonerate Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit and the plot to frame the President. He’s got nothing to lose, and flipping on his Deep State crew is now his only way out.
Saturday, April 21, 2018
Thought of the Day
Liberals have fallen in love with the idea of ignoring the 2nd Amendment and confiscating all firearms. The logistics of doing this in a nation with hundreds of millions of guns (many of which are off the books) when many police departments and tens of millions of Americans would not cooperate is seldom discussed. Another thing that seldom seems brought up is that large numbers of conservatives would see this as a prelude to the government’s use of force against the citizenry. When it is discussed on the Left, there seems to be an assumption that lone resisters might get into firefights with dozens of police or soldiers, as opposed to ganging up with other formerly law-abiding Americans to waylay gun confiscators, politicians and anti-gun activists at THEIR HOMES in guerrilla actions that would be silently applauded and supported by hundreds of millions of Americans concerned about their freedom. Confiscating guns is a dangerous and stupid idea that could in and of itself end our republic if a serious attempt were ever made to implement it.
John Hawkins, with a brush back pitch to those who seek to confiscate guns.
I'm often tempted to tell people merely calling me names on Facebook: "Listen, if you piss me off, when the right wing death squads plan to take you and your family out, I may not warn you they're coming." But since I don't think they'd see that I was merely making fun of them, I don't say it.
Friday, April 20, 2018
Thought of the Day
Or is it conceivable that one could gaze upon the Federal government and perceive neither a well-oiled machine nor an awe-inspiring work of art, but a massively over-engineered, out-of-control behemoth whose onerous expense far exceeds its utility? Could it be that this wondrous mechanism of government simply doesn’t perform the functions that the unwashed masses in the flyover states impertinently expect?
Thursday, April 19, 2018
Thought of the Day
One of the central problems of liberalism is that its operating dogmas sooner or later collide with each other. Take the way antitrust operated for decades: if you charged the same price as your competitors, you were guilty of collusion and price-fixing. But if you charged less than your competitors, you were guilty of predatory pricing. (Indeed this is exactly how antitrust investigations began decades ago before we came to our senses.) Or take bank lending: if a bank doesn’t lend to the urban poor and minorities, it is guilty of “red-lining.” But if a bank does lend to poor and minority customers who default at high rates (as happened in 2008), then you’re guilty of predatory lending.
Labels: Steven Hayward quote
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Comey on Comey and Mueller
Here's a quote from the Stephanopoulos interview I find fascinating by fired FBI head James Comey:
...anybody who's actually done investigations knows that if you've been investigating something for almost a year and you don't have a general sense of where it's likely to end up, you should be fired because you're incompetent.
Hmmm. So what did Comey say about his almost a year investigation of the Russian dossier to see if it was reliable or not? He testified generally that it was unverified and he told Stephanopoulos that he didn't know if it was true or not. At least he was fired.
But you can apply the statement to Mueller's investigation into everything as well. I'll start by stating that the original purpose was to find if there was evidence of collusion between Trump campaign and Russians to get Trump elected. Of course, the general course of special counsels is that they investigate anything they want, damn the original charter. Here Mr. Rosenstein is supposed to be monitoring Mueller's investigation and give guidance if necessary to keep it on track. He's supposed to be supervising Mueller. We know, however, that he is writing memos after Mueller does things which post facto authorize them. That seems the opposite of supervising to me.
Now at this point, I'm supposed to say that we don't know the extent of what Mueller has uncovered so we should be careful about stating what the investigation has uncovered. True in the abstract, but there has been so much leaking of investigation results over the past near year that only a fool would believe that Mueller has found evidence of the very collusion he was charged with investigating but nobody on his task force is reporting that to the media. So Mueller after nearly a year has no idea generally where the investigation into Russian collusion is going.
So Comey thinks Mueller is incompetent and ought to be fired.
I know, I know, that would be a constitutional crisis or something.
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Whom to Trust?
Leaking the results of an investigation in progress may not be illegal, unless it involves Grand Jury testimony (which is clearly illegal), but then again, with about a million malum prohibitum laws around, it just might be. Still, it's not supposed to happen and caught leakers generally get fired.
So of course the Mueller investigation into everything has leaked like a sieve from just about its first day of existence.
Here is the latest leak: The Mueller investigation allegedly has proof that Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, actually did go to Prague to meet with Russians in Summer 2016, just like the Steele dossier says and contrary to his saying he's never been to Prague, ever.
This will make the people who hate Trump happy, if true. So how to evaluate the reliability of this leak?
I don't know Cohen at all and I don't have any way to tell if he's lying. And of course we don't know what the alleged proof of his travels are so that's a dead end for judging credibility.
The best I could do is to see how many leaks from the investigation have turned out true and if the majority have been true, then the likelihood this one is true goes up.
But that's a daunting task and I'm not sure it's reliable so I will just have to wait like everyone to find out if this is true. But, like most people, I hate waiting.
Thursday, April 12, 2018
The Falling of the Mask and Scales
I looked at my new lawyer's card the other day. I've been a lawyer since 1985, and I was handling County Court trials as an intern for about a year before that; in fact, I had to interrupt a trial to go get sworn in as a lawyer. And recently I'm somewhat depressed by the changes I have seen over the past 33 years.
Let's take the current special prosecutor. I have seen three of these before Mueller. They all sucked. In America, when a crime is discovered, our police of all kinds have a duty to investigate and find the criminal. Then the government lawyers try to convict the alleged perpetrator. That's justice.
The special prosecutor does it backward. Here is a person we want investigated, see if you can find any crimes. That's the Soviet method of 'justice.'
Here is an article by a fellow lawyer who is a law professor at Cornell.
One thing he points out in his sound criticism of the Mueller task force is the left's reaction to the raid on the offices of the President's long-time personal lawyer. This part of the NYT's diatribe hit home:
A raid on a lawyer’s office doesn’t happen every day; it means that multiple government officials, and a federal judge, had reason to believe they’d find evidence of a crime there and that they didn’t trust the lawyer not to destroy that evidence….
There was a time when the review by the magistrate/judge of the investigator's or prosecutor's detailed and sworn-to application for a search warrant was good enough for me to believe the need for the search was legitimate.
But that ship has sailed.
I don't trust the FBI. I don't trust the DOJ. I don't trust many magistrates to effectively hold the line against baseless searches. Our once valued criminal justice system here has become hopelessly corrupted.
That's very sad commentary. I'm not to Daniel Greenfield despair yet, but I get closer every week.