The NY Times has a guest piece on "No Rich Child Left Behind". The gist - income is now a better predictor of success in school than race.
No kidding - David Brooks was fretting about The Hereditary Meriticracy" years ago. Also unsurprising - Brooks referred to cultural ingeritances with no mention of a possible genetic component to health, good lucks, high energy, intelligence, and other traits that might have led to the high incomes of the parents and been passed to the kids. The current author maintains that discipline.
I like this, from the intro:
Students growing up in richer families have better grades and higher standardized test scores, on average, than poorer students; they also have higher rates of participation in extracurricular activities and school leadership positions, higher graduation rates and higher rates of college enrollment and completion.
Whether you think it deeply unjust, lamentable but inevitable, or obvious and unproblematic, this is hardly news.
Paul Krugman is surely in the "deeply unjust" camp, yet I have no doubt he and his wife read regulalry to their child.
If not the usual suspects, what’s going on? It boils down to this: The academic gap is widening because rich students are increasingly entering kindergarten much better prepared to succeed in school than middle-class students. This difference in preparation persists through elementary and high school.
High-income families are increasingly focusing their resources — their money, time and knowledge of what it takes to be successful in school — on their children’s cognitive development and educational success. They are doing this because educational success is much more important than it used to be, even for the rich.
With a college degree insufficient to ensure a high-income job, or even a job as a barista, parents are now investing more time and money in their children’s cognitive development from the earliest ages. It may seem self-evident that parents with more resources are able to invest more — more of both money and of what Mr. Putnam calls “‘Goodnight Moon’ time” — in their children’s development. But even though middle-class and poor families are also increasing the time and money they invest in their children, they are not doing so as quickly or as deeply as the rich.
Why can't these evil one percenters just sail yachts and swill martinis?
Obama spoke at the White House Corresppondents dinner. He is routinely panned for lacking any flair for self-deprecatory humor but he had some good material last night. This was multi-targeted:
The fact is, I really do respect the press. I recognize the press and I have different jobs to do. My job is to be President. Your job is to keep me humble. Frankly, I think I'm doing my job better.
The last bity of this, on the other hand, will be buried. After marveling that Sheldon Adelson spent $100 million to defeat Obama, Obama says that Adelson should have just offered Obama the $100 million to drop out of the race. From the transcript:
There are other new players in the media landscape as well, like super PACs. Did you know that Sheldon Adelson spent $100 million of his own money last year on negative ads? You’ve got to really dislike me -- (laughter) -- to spend that kind of money. I mean, that’s Oprah money. (Laughter.) You could buy an island and call it “Nobama” for that kind of money. (Laughter.) Sheldon would have been better off offering me $100 million to drop out of the race. (Laughter and applause.) I probably wouldn’t have taken it, but I’d have thought about it. (Laughter.) Michelle would have taken it. (Laughter.) You think I’m joking? (Laughter.)
The WaPo drops the Michelle punchline:
On the millions Sheldon Adelson spent to try to unseat him: “That’s Oprah money! You could buy an island and call it Nobama. Adelson would have been better off calling me up and offering me $100 million to drop out of the race. I probably wouldn’t have taken it. But I’d consider it.”
Yeah, Michelle hates the job but it all about the payday. We know that, but does her devoted hubby need to embarrass her by flaunting it?
The NY Times runs a story with a lot of sympathy for small business owners opposed to the proposed internet sales tax. Did these small business owners convince the Times they were not part of the dreaded 1 Percent? Well, maybe they saw it as millionaires versus billionaires:
The Senate is poised to pass a bill to require all but the smallest online sellers to collect the tax. The House appears likely to follow suit. Although Amazon’s desire to avoid the tax played a fundamental role in its founding and growth, it is a supporter of the legislation.
Figuring out the tax in thousands of jurisdictions could be a logistical nightmare for merchants just above the legislation’s threshold of $1 million in annual revenue. That is another place where Amazon is expected to benefit; it could sell tax collection services to tens of thousands of third parties.
EBay, Amazon’s close competitor, has fought the bill, saying the threshold to collect the tax should have been substantially higher than $1 million in revenue.
For some eBay sellers, the legislation is less about leveling the playing field than permanently tilting it against them.
“This is all about the big Internet companies — Amazon, Walmart — crushing the small companies,” said Chris Chapman, who sells winter sports equipment on eBay, Amazon and through his own Web site, SnowSportDeals.com.
His sales are slightly over the threshold. That means Mr. Chapman, who is based in Maryland, will either have to spend many hours figuring out how to collect taxes himself or pay someone to do it for him.
“This will make it harder for people like me to start a Web business,” Mr. Chapman said.
“So Amazon will just get more customers. It’s win-win for them.”
This is more of Obama's corporatism in action, aqlthough to be fair, with a different result it would have been McCain's corporatism in action. Being pro-Big Business is not at all the same as being pro-business, as the Times is beginning to understand.
Obama does not intend to trip over any red lines:
Obama Not Rushing to Act on Signs Syria Used Chemical Arms
WASHINGTON — President Obama said Friday that he would respond “prudently” and “deliberately” to evidence that Syria had used chemical weapons, tamping down any expectations that he would take swift action after an American intelligence assessment that the Syrian government had used the chemical agent sarin on a small scale in the nation’s civil war.
And who among us can object to prudence and deliberation? On the other hand...
But Mr. Obama is also trying to preserve his credibility after warning in the past that the use of chemical weapons would be a “game changer” and prompt a forceful American response.
“Knowing that potentially chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria doesn’t tell us when they were used, how they were used,” Mr. Obama told reporters in the Oval Office. “We have to act prudently. We have to make these assessments deliberately.”
“But I meant what I’d said,” the president added. “To use potential weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations crosses another line with respect to international norms and international law. And that is going to be a game changer.”
Presidential talk should not be so cheap.
(Reuters) - The Oklahoma City Thunder suffered a massive blow to their NBA title hopes on Friday when All-Star guard Russell Westbrook was ruled out indefinitely because of upcoming surgery on his right knee.
...The top-seeded Thunder, who won the Western Conference last season, are widely regarded as the biggest challengers to the NBA champion Miami Heat during this campaign.
That is oxygen for the Spurs, but I don't think anyone stops LeBron's freight train this year.
David Brooks has an interesting column appraising the implementation of ObamaCare. However, he taxes my impulse control and nearly prompts head-banging and hair-pulling with this:
Everything is turning out to be more complicated than originally envisioned.
Envisioned by whom?!?!? Anyone who has ever renovated a bathroom has had an opportunity to learn that there is no project so simple that it won't be underestimated. One might have hoped that the wizard who removed lots of the asbestos from Altgeld Gardens had learned that, but no.
To continue the gloom:
Then there is the technical cascade. At some point, people are going to sit at computers and enroll. If the data process looks like some 1990s glitchmonster, if information doesn’t flow freely, then the public opinion hit will be catastrophic.
Then there is the cost cascade. Nearly everybody not in the employ of the administration agrees this law does not solve the cost problem, and many of the recent regulatory decisions will send costs higher.
Then there is the adverse selection cascade. Under the law, young healthy people subsidize poorer, sicker and older people. But the young may decide en masse that it is completely irrational for them to get health insurance that subsidizes others while they are healthy. They’ll be better off paying the fines, if those are even enforced, and opting out. Without premiums from the young, everybody else’s costs go up even higher.
Then there is the provider concentration cascade. The law further incentivizes a trend under way: the consolidation of hospitals, doctors’ practices and other providers. That also boosts prices.
Obama will be fining healthy young people of favored ethnic or gender status? I can relieve that concern - pigs will fly first. Unless the only non-enrollees are Mitt Romney's sons, it will be waivers all around. Why bother electing patronage politicans unless they deliver the patronage?
Brooks closes with a deplorable false choice:
Regulatory regimes can be simple and dumb or complex and sprawling. When you build complex, it takes a while to work through the consequences.
We have the trifecta of complex, sprawling and dumb.
TO WHICH I SHOULD ADD: Chicago machine politicians, to pick a nearly random example of Big Government types, aspire to create an impenetrably complicated governing structure with themselves as the indispensable intermediaries between their constituents and that indecipherable government.
ObamaCare is simply the Dems attempt to bring that ploy to the national stage. Eager Democrats lok to the day they can double their staffs and provide endless constituent service as broker to Health and Human services.
And what about the notion of a government of laws, not of men? In practice, if the government is allowed to write enough complicated rules we end up with a de facto government of men. Which is great for professional power brokers, if not the rest of us.
The NY Times takes a long, very critical look at Pigford v. Glickman and its aftermath:
Federal Spigot Flows as Farmers Claim Discrimination
In the winter of 2010, after a decade of defending the government against bias claims by Hispanic and female farmers, Justice Department lawyers seemed to have victory within their grasp.
Ever since the Clinton administration agreed in 1999 to make $50,000 payments to thousands of black farmers [Pigford v. Glickman], the Hispanics and women had been clamoring in courtrooms and in Congress for the same deal. They argued, as the African-Americans had, that biased federal loan officers had systematically thwarted their attempts to borrow money to farm.
But a succession of courts — and finally the Supreme Court — had rebuffed their pleas. Instead of an army of potential claimants, the government faced just 91 plaintiffs. Those cases, the government lawyers figured, could be dispatched at limited cost.
They were wrong.
On the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling, interviews and records show, the Obama administration’s political appointees at the Justice and Agriculture Departments engineered a stunning turnabout: they committed $1.33 billion to compensate not just the 91 plaintiffs but thousands of Hispanic and female farmers who had never claimed bias in court.
The deal, several current and former government officials said, was fashioned in White House meetings despite the vehement objections — until now undisclosed — of career lawyers and agency officials who had argued that there was no credible evidence of widespread discrimination. What is more, some protested, the template for the deal — the $50,000 payouts to black farmers — had proved a magnet for fraud.
Fraud? Is that what the Times is going to investigate? My bad - I assumed they were going to explain to us why there is not a class action suit for gay farmers.
But fraud it is. Here are some of the juicy bits:
The compensation effort sprang from a desire to redress what the government and a federal judge agreed was a painful legacy of bias against African-Americans by the Agriculture Department. But an examination by The New York Times shows that it became a runaway train, driven by racial politics, pressure from influential members of Congress and law firms that stand to gain more than $130 million in fees. In the past five years, it has grown to encompass a second group of African-Americans as well as Hispanic, female and Native American farmers. In all, more than 90,000 people have filed claims. The total cost could top $4.4 billion.
From the start, the claims process prompted allegations of widespread fraud and criticism that its very design encouraged people to lie: because relatively few records remained to verify accusations, claimants were not required to present documentary evidence that they had been unfairly treated or had even tried to farm. Agriculture Department reviewers found reams of suspicious claims, from nursery-school-age children and pockets of urban dwellers, sometimes in the same handwriting with nearly identical accounts of discrimination.
Yet those concerns were played down as the compensation effort grew. Though the government has started requiring more evidence to support some claims, even now people who say they were unfairly denied loans can collect up to $50,000 with little documentation.
As a senator, Barack Obama supported expanding compensation for black farmers, and then as president he pressed for $1.15 billion to pay those new claims. Other groups quickly escalated their demands for similar treatment. In a letter to the White House in September 2009, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a leading Hispanic Democrat, threatened to mount a campaign “outside the Beltway” if Hispanic farmers were not compensated.
The circumstances under which the Agriculture Dept. accessed the settlement funds is legally dubious:
The payouts pitted Mr. Vilsack and other political appointees against career lawyers and agency officials, who argued that the legal risks did not justify the costs.
Beyond that, they said it was legally questionable to sidestep Congress and compensate the Hispanic and female farmers out of a special Treasury Department account, known as the Judgment Fund. The fund is restricted to payments of court-approved judgments and settlements, as well as to out-of-court settlements in cases where the government faces imminent litigation that it could lose. Some officials argued that tapping the fund for the farmers set a bad precedent, since most had arguably never contemplated suing and might not have won if they had.
“The fund is not politically accessible, it is only legally accessible,” said David Aufhauser, the Treasury Department’s general counsel from 2001 to 2003. “Otherwise, it is a license to raid the till.”
In other words, you can't pay off special interest groups just because you hope to lose to them in court; there has to be a credible legal basis for the admission of defeat.
A 2010 settlement with Native Americans was contentious for its own reasons. Justice Department lawyers argued that the $760 million agreement far outstripped the potential cost of a defeat in court. Agriculture officials said not that many farmers would file claims.
That prediction proved prophetic. Only $300 million in claims were filed, leaving nearly $400 million in the control of plaintiffs’ lawyers to be distributed among a handful of nonprofit organizations serving Native American farmers. Two and a half years later, the groups have yet to be chosen. It is unclear how many even exist.
What is not unclear is for whom they will vote. And the lawyers will keep ther fee (less their contributions to the Democratic Party).
The first Pigford settlement was approved under Bill Clinton, with very lax standards of documentation and proof. This created a learning opportunity for Team Clinton:
John C. Coffee Jr., a Columbia Law School professor and specialist in complex litigation, said that not requiring documentary evidence “was quite unusual, but there were also special circumstances.”
Still, he said, “I don’t think they realized how much of an incentive they were creating for claims to multiply. It is a little bit like putting out milk for a kitten.
“The next night, you get 15 kittens.”
Who could have guessed?
Delton Wright, a Pine Bluff justice of the peace, recalled what happened after word of the settlement reached his impoverished region: “It just went wild. Some people took the money who didn’t even have a garden in the ground.” He added, “They didn’t make it hard at all, and that’s why people jumped on it.”
Mr. Wright, whose family owns farmland outside Pine Bluff, won his claim. So did two other applicants whose claims were virtually identical to his, with the same rounded handwriting, the same accusations of bias and similar descriptions of damages suffered.
Now 57, with his memory weakened by what he said was a recent stroke, Mr. Wright said he could not recall details of the discrimination he encountered, much less explain the apparent duplicate claims.
But Mr. Cross, the Pine Bluff lawyer, has his suspicions. “It got out of control,” said Mr. Cross, adding that he had filed about 1,500 claims, including Mr. Wright’s and the apparent duplicates. He estimated that up to 15 percent of Arkansas claims were fraudulent.
Claimants described how, at packed meetings, lawyers’ aides would fill out forms for them on the spot, sometimes supplying answers “to keep the line moving,” as one put it.
Even his own staff was complicit, Mr. Cross said; he discovered that four employees had been slipping unverified claims into stacks of papers that he signed. He did not inform the court monitor, he said, because “the damage was done.”
On two floors of the Cotton Annex building in Washington, a 300-member team from the Farm Service Agency reviewed claims before adjudicators rendered their final decisions. In recent interviews, 15 current and former Agriculture Department employees who reviewed or responded to claims said the loose conditions for payment had opened the floodgates to fraud.
“It was the craziest thing I have ever seen,” one former high-ranking department official said. “We had applications for kids who were 4 or 5 years old. We had cases where every single member of the family applied.” The official added, “You couldn’t have designed it worse if you had tried.”
Carl K. Bond, a former Agriculture Department farm loan manager in North Carolina, reviewed thousands of claims over six years.
“I probably could have got paid,” said Mr. Bond, who is black. “You knew it was wrong, but what could you do? Who is going to listen to you?”
Accusations of unfair treatment could be checked against department files if claimants had previously received loans. But four-fifths of successful claimants had never done so. For them, “there was no way to refute what they said,” said Sandy Grammer, a former program analyst from Indiana who reviewed claims for three years. “Basically, it was a rip-off of the American taxpayers.”
Thirty percent of all payments, totaling $290 million, went to predominantly urban counties — a phenomenon that supporters of the settlement say reflects black farmers’ migration during the 15 years covered by the lawsuit. Only 11 percent, or $107 million, went to what the Agriculture Department classifies as “completely rural” counties.
The first round of fraud was so successful that there was enormous pressure to continue it:
Some 66,000 claims poured in after the 1999 deadline. Noting that the government had given “extensive” notice, Judge Friedman ruled the door closed to late filers. “That is simply how class actions work,” he wrote.
But it was not how politics worked. The next nine years brought a concerted effort to allow the late filers to seek awards. Career Agriculture Department officials warned that they might be even more problematic than initial claimants: in one ZIP code in Columbus, Ohio, nearly everyone in two adjoining apartment buildings had filed, according to the former high-ranking agency official.
President George W. Bush was unreceptive to farmers’ repeated protests. But Congress was not: legislators from both parties, including Mr. Obama as a senator in 2007, sponsored bills to grant the late filers relief.
Mr. Boyd said Mr. Obama’s support led him to throw the backing of his 109,000-member black farmers’ association behind the Obama presidential primary campaign. Hilary Shelton, the N.A.A.C.P.’s chief lobbyist, said Mr. Obama’s stance helped establish him as a defender of the concerns of rural African-American communities.
And where were the critics?
Public criticism came primarily from conservative news outlets like Breitbart.com and from Congressional conservatives like Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, who described the program as rife with fraud. Few Republicans or Democrats supported him. Asked why, Mr. King said, “Never underestimate the fear of being called a racist.”
For fairness and balance, let's note this cheerleading from the NY Times editors back in 2010:
Pigford v. Glickman has not resonated across the land like Brown v. Board of Education, but the very same history of crippling injustice is at its heart. The Pigford settlement will remain a misnomer until the nation rights this historic injustice and pays what it owes.
But Pigford is a mere prelude to the current drama. If blacks can benefit from a Federal give-away, why can't Hispanics? Why can't women? Good question:
In agreeing to the payout, the government did, for the first time, impose a greater evidentiary burden. While one major category of claimants — those who said their loan applications had been unfairly denied — remained eligible for payments of up to $50,000 without any documentation, others were required to produce written evidence that they had complained of bias at the time. The Hispanic plaintiffs were indignant.
Adam P. Feinberg, who represents some of them, said: “Once the government puts a program in place for one racial group, even if it decides it is too generous, it cannot adopt a different set of restrictions for another racial group. It’s outrageous.”
Well, yes. Equal opportunity for fraud is what makes Obama's Chicago-style government great.
The Times closes with an example of the "cottage industry" that has grown up to participate in the rip-off:
Mr. Burrell has traveled the South for years, exhorting black audiences in auditoriums and church halls to file discrimination complaints with his organization’s help, in exchange for a $100 annual membership fee.
In an interview last month, Mr. Burrell said he had dedicated his life to helping black farmers after biased federal loan officers deprived him of his land and ruined his credit. He said his organization had misled no one, and had forwarded the names of all those eligible and willing to file claims.
“I have never advocated anybody file a false claim,” he said. “I have worked almost pro bono for this cause.”
On a recent Thursday at the Greater Second Baptist Church in Little Rock, several hundred African-Americans listened intently as Mr. Burrell told them they could reap $50,000 each, merely by claiming bias. He left out the fact that black men are no longer eligible, and that black women are eligible only if they suffered gender, not racial, bias.
“The Department of Agriculture admitted that it discriminated against every black person who walked into their offices,” he told the crowd. “They said we discriminated against them, but we didn’t keep a record. Hello? You don’t have to prove it.”
In fact, he boasted, he and his four siblings had all collected awards, and his sister had acquired another $50,000 on behalf of their dead father.
She cinched the claim, he said to a ripple of laughter, by asserting that her father had whispered on his deathbed, “I was discriminated against by U.S.D.A.”
“The judge has said since you all look alike, whichever one says he came into the office, that’s the one to pay — hint, hint,” he said. “There is no limit to the amount of money, and there is no limit to the amount of folks who can file.”
He closed with a rousing exhortation: “Let’s get the judge to go to work writing them checks! They have just opened the bank vault.”
I have only one guess as to why the Times is investigating this now. In happier days, particularly the era of the Clinton surpluses when the first deal was announced, this sort of fraud seemed to victimize no one.The taxpayer? Who is that, Mitt Romney, and aren't his taxes too low anyway?
But in this age of austerity, it may have ocurred to Timesmen that money that goes to faux-farmers won't be funding Alzheimer's research or AIDS relief or pre-school education in the inner city. As choices go, Obama's choice to sprinkle these checks on those special interest group this way is hard to defend.
As to whether Team Obama can gain more votes through good government or by handing random checks to opportunists based on some mixture of ethnicity, gender and scruples, well, that depends in part on whether our watchdog press actually barks. It looks as if they might.
UPDATE: Ed at Hot Air achieves brevity:
NYT: Breitbart was right about Pigford
Obama drew a "red line" about the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Syria. Awkward:
U.S. Says It Suspects Assad Used Chemical Weapons
By MARK LANDLER
WASHINGTON — The White House said on Thursday that American intelligence agencies now believed, with “varying degrees of confidence,” that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons, but it said it needed conclusive proof before President Obama would take action.
The disclosure, in letters to Congressional leaders, takes the administration a step closer to acknowledging that President Bashar al-Assad has crossed a red line established by Mr. Obama last summer, when he said the United States would take unspecified action against Syria if there was evidence that chemical weapons had been used in the civil war.
I note a divergence - the Amdinistration now claims it needs "conclusive proof", but per this account Obama only needed "evidence". I know what he said last summer:
We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.
We are now learning that by "seeing" Obama meant seeing and tasting and touching and having some Syrian chemicals snuggle in his lap and tickle him. As Obama has said in another context and might have said here, "Don't call my bluff!"
Which is fair enough in one sense. By announcing a red line, Obama ceded the initiative to the Syrians. The odds are that "they" have chosen to cross it, but whether "they" are the Assad people directly or rogue regime hardliners who are willing to burn down everything is something we don't know and ought to find out.
That said, Presidential talk is not meant to be so cheap. Currently, the White House has its lawyers as the line of defense:
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, wrapping up weeklong travels in the Middle East that included daily discussions of the Syria crisis, said he was prepared to “give advice on policy decisions” for Pentagon action, but cautioned that much remained uncertain about the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
Asked if this assessment had proven that Syria had crossed a “red line” drawn by the president, he responded, “We need all the facts, we need all the information.” He noted that uncertainties remained over “what was used, where it was used, who used it.”
Even if the United Nations investigation proves the use of chemicals, an official said, the White House must determine who used them and whether they were used deliberately or accidentally. He did not offer a timetable for that process.
“It is precisely because this is a red line that we have to establish with airtight certainty that this happened,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so he could discuss internal deliberations. “The bar on the United States is higher than on anyone else, both because of our capabilities and because of our history in Iraq.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking in Cairo during a Middle East tour that has been dominated by worries about Syria, said, “Suspicions are one thing; evidence is another.”
It is a war zone, not an NCIS crime scene, and it is inconceivable that we will gather "all" the facts. Which means that at some point, ready or not, away we will have to go. Or almost certainly not, unless the Pentagon offers some stand-offish cruise missile type responses. Syrian civilans can die in droves but Obama won't be putting US boots on the ground.
Menu items were suggested by the always temperate John McCain:
Mr. McCain called on the president to begin supplying weapons to the rebels, which he has so far refused to do; to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria; and to redouble pressure on Russia to abandon its support for the Assad regime.
Time will tell.
METAPHOR FAIL, OR, DO THE EXPERTS EVEN KNOW WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR?
Experts on chemical warfare said the administration’s methodical approach was warranted. The evidence that has emerged so far is suggestive of chemical attacks, they said, but not conclusive. Syrian government forces could have used riot-control gas that, while extremely powerful, does not qualify as a chemical warfare agent, like sarin.
“It’s not a smoking gun, at least so far,” said Keith Ward, an expert on chemical warfare who worked for the Department of Homeland Security and the Navy and is now advising Human Rights Watch.
Not a smoking gun? Who's looking for guns?!?
The NY Times provokes a mini reader revolt with their 'Everything Old Is New Again' report that eggs will give you heart disease:
Eggs, Too, May Provoke Bacteria to Raise Heart Risk
By GINA KOLATA
For the second time in a matter of weeks, a group of researchers reported a link between the food people eat and bacteria in the intestines that can increase the risk of heart attacks.
Two weeks ago, the investigators reported that carnitine, a compound found in red meat, can increase heart disease risk because of the actions of intestinal bacteria. This time they reported that the same thing happens with lecithin, which is abundant in egg yolks.
Lecithin is used for treating memory disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It is also used for treating gallbladder disease, liver disease, certain types of depression, high cholesterol, anxiety, and a skin disease called eczema.
Save my heart but lose my brain, liver and skin? Hmm, we make these tough calls every day...
And did I say there was something fishy about this? Here is the mechanism the authors identify for the perils of eggs:
In the case of eggs, the chain of events starts when the body digests lecithin, breaking it into its constituent parts, including the chemical choline. Intestinal bacteria metabolize choline and release a substance that the liver converts to a chemical known as TMAO, for trimethylamine N-oxide. High levels of TMAO in the blood are linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
So choline and TMAO are in play. We will come back to choline, but if TMAO is the culprit then the researchers should have tested fish, a famous source of the TMAO precursors - so famous, in fact, that researchers have pondered the "fish odor syndrome". Since you asked:
Trimethylaminuria is a disorder in which the volatile, fish-smelling compound, trimethylamine (TMA) accumulates and is excreted in the urine, but is also found in the sweat and breath of these patients. Because many patients have associated body odours or halitosis, trimethylaminuria sufferers can meet serious difficulties in a social context, leading to other problems such as isolation and depression. TMA is formed by bacteria in the mammalian gut from reduction of compounds such as trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) and choline. Primary trimethylaminuria sufferers have an inherited enzyme deficiency where TMA is not efficiently converted to the non-odorous TMAO in the liver.
And how might one deal with this?
Intriguingly, many individuals have learned by trial and error how best to manage the disorder, including avoiding marine fish in their diet...
If you don't want to smell like fish, don't eat... eggs. We are so much smarter now.
An interesting clue as to where researchers might seek answers is tossed out here:
Given that even on the same dose of substrate precursor in loading tests there is a big variation in the amount of TMAO and TMA excretion, it is possible that the nature of the gut microflora may play a significant role in the generation of symptoms in some individuals.
So maybe the problem with eggs isn't the precursors (such as lecithin) but the way the gut flora process those precursors. So instead of telling people that eggs are the problem, maybe they we should be told that eggs will be a problem for people with an unhealthy mix of gut flora. One last aside as to why the smell of fish might bother us:
Marine fish contain large amounts of the N-oxide TMAO which plays a major role in osmoregulation, allowing marine fish to colonise a profoundly saline environment. Bacterial activity in rotting fish reduces the TMAO to TMA, imparting the characteristic odour, and the human ability to detect this odour so readily has led some to suppose that this may have a role in preventing humans from ingesting rotten fish.
I find that interesting. Of course, the rotten egg smell is also notable, but different.
But back to choline. The major building block of lecithin is choline, and the authors cited that as a problem. So where do we find choline in our diet?
The largest dietary source of choline is egg yolk. Choline can also be found in high amounts in liver, peanuts, fish, milk, brewer's yeast, wheat germ, soy beans, bottle gourd fruit, fenugreek leaves, shepherd's purse herb, Brazil nuts, dandelion flowers, poppy seeds, mung beans and other beans, and a variety of meats and vegetables, including cabbage and cauliflower.
I don't think vegetarians will be running from wheat germ, soy products, beans, cabbage or cauliflower. Yet somehow choline from eggs is dangerous, because it leads to TMAO. Of course, eating fish leads to TMAO and no one claims fish to be heart-unhealthy; quite the contrary. Which means we have a study with a lot more questions than answers.
The absolute collapse of critical thinking at the Times on certain health-related topics is both alarming and comical. I can think of several of their columnists who would happily cite any study denouncing red meat, even if the causal mechanism invoked extra-terrestials angered by the slaughter of their brethren. And eggs manage to linger in that "Flyover Country Only, Not Fit For The Upper West Side" niche, although the Times busts the mold ocassionally. Here is Mark Bittman trying to keep a foot in each camp:
Let’s cut to the chase: The diet that seems so valuable is our old friend the “Mediterranean” diet (not that many Mediterraneans actually eat this way). It’s as straightforward as it is un-American: low in red meat, low in sugar and hyperprocessed carbs, low in junk. High in just about everything else — healthful fat (especially olive oil), vegetables, fruits, legumes and what the people who designed the diet determined to be beneficial, or at least less-harmful, animal products; in this case fish, eggs and low-fat dairy.
Let me press on a bit more. Science jockeys will want to peruse "Does Dietary Choline Contribute to Heart Disease?" by Chris Masterjohn. He pounds the table for fish and adds this:
There’s just one major problem with this [TMAO] hypothesis. Studies in humans have shown that neither phosphatidylcholine nor choline-rich foods produce detectable increases in trimethylamine.
In fact, these authors even fed 46 different foods to humans and looked at the subsequent excretion of trimethylamine and TMAO. Choline-rich foods like liver and eggs did not produce any increase in urinary trimethylamine or TMAO over control levels. In fact, even carnitine-rich meats failed to increase excretion of these compounds. The only foods that increased excretion of TMAO were seafoods, which naturally contain some trimethylamine, giving them their “fishy” smell.
In normal, healthy people our liver and kidneys deal with this stuff. However...
Blood levels of choline are currently considered an emerging marker for destabilization of coronary plaques or ischemia in acute coronary syndrome, as reviewed here. During the process of blood clotting, inflammatory enzymes release choline from membrane phospholipids in order to also generate phosphatidic acid, which is used as an important signaling molecule. Elevated blood levels of choline, then, and perhaps its metabolite betaine, could simply reflect an inflammatory or pro-clotting environment.
So elevated choline may be a symptom rather than a cause of heart disease.
Rand Paul stepped in it yesterday with an aggressive modification to what people thought was his No Drones Over America policy:
Earlier today Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) made a remark about drones on Fox News Business that suggested his position had changed. “If there is a killer on the loose in a neighborhood, I’m not against drones being used to search them," Paul said.
"If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and $50 in cash, I don’t care if a Drone kills him or a policeman kills him, but it’s different if they want to come fly over your hot tub, or your yard just because they want to do surveillance on everyone, and they want to watch your activities.”
Wow. What about having the police arrest him, wonders Patterico?
Paul issued a clarification:
Armed drones should not be used in normal crime situations. They only may only be considered in extraordinary, lethal situations where there is an ongoing, imminent threat. I described that scenario previously during my Senate filibuster.
“Additionally, surveillance drones should only be used with warrants and specific targets.
Well, you know, to my thinking, only a bunch of government lawyers could come up with a definition for imminent that says it isn't immediate. So that's the first problem with it. Is that going to be the standard that's used in America? That has to be an imminent threat but it doesn't have to be immediate, because then my next question, what does that mean? Does that mean noncombatants who you think might someday be combatants are an imminent threat? I mean, it is a pretty important question, what is imminent? No, there is no question what is imminent lethal force. Someone aiming a gun at you, a missile, a bomb, any of these things is imminent, and no one questions that. No one questions using lethal force to stop any kind of imminent attack. But we become a little bit worried when the President says imminent doesn't have to mean immediate. And when that happens and then when you see, from what we can tell from the unclassified portion of the drone attacks overseas, many of these people are not involved in combat.
Well. A drone stike to kill al-Awlaki while he is riding in a car and posing an imminent threat of proselytizing on behalf of militant Islam is one thing. A guy waving a gun may be something else.
Now, in the normal course of business I would favor a conventional arrest. However, I hark back to the famous North Hollywood shootout in LA where two men with full body armor stood off the LAPD. A drone strike might have been helpful, or at least, would have ocurred in the context imagined by Rand Paul. OK, it also might have been crazy, since it was downtown LA, but the cops were a bit outgunned. Eventually a SWAT armored truck (and heavier weaponry) helped turn the tide.
Upon further reflection, I am having a hard time imagining a scenario where a domestic drone strike would make sense. If it is a crowded urban setting with many lives at risk, a drone missile explosion seems problematic. On the other hand, if it is more of a rural, or at least isolated setting (maybe the LA docks or some such) then what is the hurry and why can't we wait for conventional law enforcement?
All that said, Paul does seem to have noted the imminent lethal threat exception back during the filibuster, so we count that in his favor.
From a Times profile of the Boston bombers we are offered this about the older brother from a former brother-in-law:
But he was angry that the world pictures Islam as a violent religion.
Investigators have not found ricin or ingredients for it in the house or vehicle of a Corinth man accused of mailing poisoned letters to President Obama, a senator and a local judge, an F.B.I. agent testified Monday. A search of a computer belonging to the man, Paul K. Curtis, found no evidence that he researched making ricin, Agent Brandon Grant said. Through his lawyer, Mr. Curtis has denied involvement, and his lawyer said he may have been framed.
Barbara (Bonnie) Joan March (b. 1945/6) is an American criminal from Connecticut, United States of America who is currently imprisoned for 'Mailing Injurious Articles' to fourteen United States government officials.
In April 2005, she sent several food items, including baked goods and candy, to the fourteen officials. Each item was laced with a lethal dose of warfarin (rat poison). Each package included a typewritten note that threatened the recipient with being poisoned, and had the return address of people she had a grudge against, such as former co-workers and classmates.
The items were sent to the:
- Nine justices of the Supreme Court of the United States
- Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert Mueller
- Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Chief of Naval Operations of the United States
- Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force
- Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Yes, we had our fun back in the day. In any case, the idea of attempting to get someone else in hot water by mailing poison in their name is not new, so the possibility that Mr. Curtis is a victim here should be taken seriously. It's sort of as if SWATTING went postal.
However, and not to muddle Charlie's science, Taubes does not spend much time (if any) evaluating the very interesting stuff being learned about gut bacteria and the human biome.
Bubbies sauerkraut, pickles, and pickled green tomatoes are good sources of fermenting bacteria. Yogurt with active cultures is the old standby, and kefir has a nice tang to it.
And my question - from his early diet I don't see any mention of or emphasis on fermented foods. Is that something Charlie has experimented with?
Food for thought, as it were.
Per the NY Times (and others), the second bomber was captured with some impressive equipment:
Along with determining that the suspects had made at least five pipe bombs, the authorities recovered four firearms that they believe the suspects used, according to a law enforcement official. The authorities found an M-4 carbine rifle — a weapon similar to ones used by American forces in Afghanistan — on the boat where the younger suspect was found Friday night in Watertown, Mass., 10 miles west of Boston.
Two handguns and a BB gun that the authorities believe the brothers used in an earlier shootout with officers in Watertown were also recovered, said one official briefed on the investigation. The authorities said they believe the suspects had fired roughly 80 rounds in that shootout, in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev was fatally wounded, the official said.
A real M-4 carbine with three round burst and full automatic capability meant for the military or law enforcement? Not a civilian semi-automatic knock-off that would qualify as a dreaded 'assault weapon'?
Or are these reporters unaware of the difference? After all, we have only been mooting assault weapons since last December.
Still, its an odd lost opportunity for the media to score political points. Think how much safer we would have been if the bomber had been limited to a more conventional looking rifle.
Alan Rozenshtein offers a grain of salt to the ex post geniuses who claim the Boston bombing is a clear intelligence failure.
Although I mostly concur it is not too soon to label it a 'non-success', and do keep in mind - like Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Rozenshtein is the kind of guy who could probably elude an FBI surveillance. I know the feeling.
Police said the two accused were getting "direction and guidance" from al-Qaeda elements in Iran. There was no information to suggest the attacks were state sponsored, police said.
That said, Al Qaeda leaders have been detained in Iran, so terrorists might well be getting direction from there.
The Dash To Dumb continues at The Hill:
The two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings were not licensed to have the firearms they used in several shootouts with police on Friday, Reuters reported Sunday night.
The news that the suspects were not authorized to own firearms will likely add fuel to calls for tougher gun laws – an issue that was put on the back-burner last week after the Senate blocked the central elements of President Obama's gun-control package.
In addition to tougher gun laws I think this incident emphasizes the need for tougher anti-bombing laws, since clearly these guys weren't getting the message. And where is the law requiring registration and background checks for pressure cookers? No pesky Second Amendment issue there!
I have seen accounts in which the brothers are described as using "long guns", but did they use scary ASSAULT WEAPONS?!? Presumably if they did not people like Mike Bloomberg will comment on the possibility that we should not be focusing on irrelevant cosmetic features in banning (or not banning) various rifles.
The sun is going down on an incredible day of searching unsuccessfully for Suspect 2. A guess - he was wounded in the early morning gunfight, hid out, passed out and bled out. If he is well enough hidden he will eventually be found by smell.
MUCH LATER: It's always in the last place you look, after you stop looking:
After authorities relaxed the lockdown with Tsarnaev still at large late Friday afternoon, David Henneberry headed outside and noticed that the tarp had become unsecured — something it had not done during the blizzards that hit Boston this winter. That, as boat owners know, simply will not do, so he went to fix it.
Ending the lockdown led to the discovery and capture of Suspect 2.
The Wild West came to Boston last night. One bombing suspect has been killed and one remains at large. This is from the NY Times:
One of two suspects wanted in Monday’s deadly Boston marathon bombing was killed early Friday in a violent standoff with the police in a quiet residential neighborhood just west of Boston. The second suspect remained at large following what authorities described as a deadly crime spree that left one police officer dead and another seriously wounded.
Police confirmed that, at around 10:30 p.m. there had been a robbery at a 7/11 store in Central Square, Cambridge, apparently by the white-hatted suspect.
Shortly afterward, a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was shot and killed while responding to a suspicious incident. Police chased the two suspects, apparently in a black Mercedes SUV, to Watertown, where two residents of Laurel Street said they heard what sounded like firecrackers going off shortly before midnight. When they looked out of their windows, they saw the two young men taking cover behind the black Mercedes, in a shootout with dozens of police about 70 yards away. A transit police officer was shot, said a police spokesman, Dave Procopio, and was in serious condition.
A Watertown resident, Andrew Kitzenberg, 29, said he looked out his third-floor window to see two young men of slight build in jackets engaged in “constant gunfire” with police officers. A police SUV “drove towards the shooters,” he said, and was shot at until it was severely damaged. It rolled out of control, Mr. Kitzenberg said, and crashed into two cars in his driveway.
The two shooters, he said, had a large, unwieldy bomb that he said looked “like a pressure cooker.”
“They lit it, still in the middle of the gunfire, and threw it. But it went 20 yards at most.” It exploded, he said, and one of the two men ran toward the gathered police officers. He was tackled, but it was not clear if he was shot, Mr. Kitzenberg said.
The explosions, said another resident, Loretta Kehayias, 65, “lit up the whole house. I screamed. I’ve never seen anything like this, never, never, never.”
Meanwhile, the other young man, said Mr. Kitzenberg, got back into the SUV, turned it toward officers and “put the pedal to the metal.” The car “went right through the cops, broke right through and continued west.”
The two men left “a few backpacks right by the car, and there is a bomb robot out there now.” Police had told residents to stay away from their windows, he said.
At least two people, one of whom appeared to be a police officer and the other a man in handcuffs were taken from the scene in ambulances, said a Dexter Street resident who declined to give his name.
First, are they kidding me? The Times is quoting live eyewitnesses by name but this is still unbelievable. Are these guys lucky amateurs or did they manage to stand off and escape from a shootout with "dozens" due to military or terrorist training?
FWIW, and given the many media flubs I would say not much, one of the Fox Fiends claims that on the police scanners she overheard chatter about police in pursuit of a man of "Middle Eastern origin". I could probably switch to MSNBC and learn he is a Tea Partier...
7 AM: The Justice dept has identified the dead suspect. Apparently these are Chechen brothers. Fox is afraid to try and spell the name, which they can scarcely pronounce. Here they go with a graphic:
Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev
The brothers have been living in Cambridge for the past year [now, 'several'].
Cambridge announces 2011 City Scholarship recipients
Posted by Brock Parker May 6, 2011 01:53 PM
The City of Cambridge has announced the 2011 City Scholarship recipients for seniors at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School and others pursuing higher education.
The city is awarding the $2,500 scholarships to 45 students using contributions from citizens and businesses. About 35 to 45 scholarships are awarded each year, according to the city.
The 2011 Recipients:
Sarah Adkins, Arjun Agarwala, Jason Tang, Neyka Alexandre, Paola Arias Sanabria, Ty Atkin, Ariane Berelowitch, Samuel Borrus, Samisa Brioso, Joan Brunetta, Gina Chen, Gwendolyn Child, Abina Cohen, Kayla Coleman, Katrina Cooper, Judy Cortes, Anne-Marie Denis, Sira Fati, Jillian Felie, Hannah Firestone, Carlos Galvao, Kidan Gebremedhin, Yordanos Gebremichl, Adam Gelaw, Lillianna Griggs, David Guan, Pouchy Guerrier, Michael Sferza-Lewis, Hichem Hadjeres, Regina Hallisey, Pasang Lhamo, Rebecca Loh, Rebecca Mazur, Amatullah Mervin, Kathleen Mullen, Suryani Dewa Ayu, Liam O’Leary, Rebecca Pearce-Probst, Megan Rebello, Rose Schutzberg, Hyun-Wook Seo, Alexandros Stefanakis, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Dorcas Yip, Fesehaye Zewdie.
Dzhokhar has a MyLife account which I can't access.
However, there is a Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Facebook; 2 minute ago he posted a link to this eerily prescient post ostensibly from April 15 just after the bombing. The claim, made Monday, is that a "security commission" is staging this and will take down a young, unstable man in a Friday raid; the NRA will be blamed and gunpowder banned.
Obvious ploy - as of Monday, Dzhokhar put up similar predictive posts for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and so on. When the time came he highlighted the one that has panned out.
Or, someone else altogether staged the predictions and has created a new Facebook account with that name once it was released. Mark Zuckerberg can track the history of the account but I can't. And do I know anything about how to manipulate Tumbler timestamps? No. [FWIW, several false twitter accounts have been set up in this guys name. Presumably, a fake Facebook account would have been easy.]
WHILE I WAS TYPING: OK, that Facebook account is down and I don't have a screenshot. Boston Truthers will want this Tumbler to which the poster linked:
Yes, it's crazy, but eventually it will be in the news.
MY LATEST ABSURD SPECULATION: Buzzfeed runs down online info on the Tsarnaev family, including this:
Zubeidat K. Tsarnaeva, 45, who shares an address with the two men and could be their mother, was arrested last summer for shoplifting.
Loss prevention from Lord & Taylor called to report they had detained a shoplifter. Zubeidat K. Tsarnaeva, 45, of 410 Norfolk St., Apt. 3, Cambridge, was arrested and charged with larceny over $250...
There is a Lord & Taylor at the finish line of the Boston Marathon near one of the bomb sites. Coincidence or motive?
Chechnya: The Council On Foreign Relations has a brief history of Chechnya and terror, with a section on the Al Qaeda connection:
Experts say there are several ties between the al-Qaeda network and Chechen groups. A Chechen warlord known as Khattab is said to have met with Osama bin Laden while both men were fighting the 1979-89 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Alexander Vershbow, a U.S. ambassador to Russia, said shortly after September 11, 2001, "We have long recognized that Osama bin Laden and other international networks have been fueling the flames in Chechnya, including the involvement of foreign commanders like Khattab." Khattab was killed in April 2002.
Zacarias Moussaoui, who was convicted for his involvement in the September 11 attacks, was reported by the Wall Street Journal to be formerly "a recruiter for al-Qaeda-backed rebels in Chechnya." Chechen militants reportedly fought alongside al-Qaeda and Taliban forces against the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in late 2001. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan was one of the only governments to recognize Chechen independence.
Russian authorities, including Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, have repeatedly stressed the involvement of international terrorists and Bin Laden associates in Chechnya--in part, experts say, to generate Western sympathy for Russia's military campaign against the Chechen rebels. Russia's former defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, claimed that a videotape of Khattab meeting with bin Laden had been found in Afghanistan, but Russia has not aired the tape publicly.
The NY Post shames itself and misunderestimates the power of the internet. Apparently they are reporting today about two men who were identified and dismissed by internet sleuths yesterday. Max Road at Gawker denounces the Post with appropriate vigor but overthinks this a bit:
It took Redditors a few hours to find that Facebook page; it took me about ten minutes in the wake of their work. If you have even a little faith in the FBI, it's difficult to imagine that its investigators didn't figure out who this kid is, and how unlikely he is as a suspect, yesterday—especially after he went to authorities to clear his name.
Which means there are two possibilities: one, the Post newsroom couldn't even be bothered to do the bare minimum of follow-up reporting—that after reporters had spoken to their sources, who gave them at best outdated information, they didn't (or didn't know how to) spend the ten minutes it would have taken to learn that the person in the photos had been identified already—by message board posters!—as a person who did not plant a bomb at the Boston Marathon.
Or, two, that the the Post did the followup reporting—that its reporters found out that the kid had been identified online, that he'd contacted authorities, that he's just some poor teenager who posts "SWAG" image macros on his Facebook page—but is institutionally so committed to identifying an Arab, any Arab, as a terrorist, that it still splashed his photo on the front page and insinuated his suspect-hood.
Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence. I think it would be pretty easy for an old-school reporter to underestimate the power of the net.
Hoping the public will provide crucial clues, the FBI today released video and photos of two men who are suspected in Monday’s deadly Boston Marathon terror bombings.
“Somebody out there knows these individuals as friends, neighbors, co-workers, or family members,” said Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office. “Though it may be difficult, the nation is counting on those with information to come forward and provide it to us.”
He said the two men — shown strolling down a sidewalk behind marathon spectators and mingling in the crowd — are considered “extremely armed and dangerous.”
DesLauriers described the two men as Suspect No. 1 and Suspect No. 2. Suspect No. 1 was wearing a dark hat. Suspect No. 2 was wearing a white hat.
DesLauriers said Suspect No. 2 was observed planting a bomb, leaving it in place shortly before it went off.
“Within minutes,” he said at a news conference at a Boston hotel.
As someone noted, the finsih line of the Boston marathon was probably the most photographed/videoed place in America on Monday (barring any travel by Kim or Lindsay, natch.) Yet Genius Suspect 2 is sauntering along with his baseball cap turned backwards to minimize the disguise value.
I have no idea how many pressure cookers there are in the United States but I am sure it is well less than one per person. Actually, I am suspect the national average is less than one per kitchen, since many households won't have one and only a very busy cook would need more than one.
The point being that there are many fewer pressure cookers than guns in this country. As we learned in Boston, these pressure cookers can be the basis for a devastating bomb.
So, does Obama's common sense tell him we need a national pressure cooker registry with background checks required prior to purchase? I doubt there are Constitutional impediments. Engraving serial numbers on newly produced pressure cookers shouldn't be beyond the scope of our manufacturers. The cost to consumers will rise, but think of the children!
My suspicion is that Neither Obama's nor Bloomberg's common sense is taking them in this direction, but I am not sure why not.
WELL, YES: Ann Althouse describes Obama's tantrum after the collapse of gun legislation in the Senate:
Obama knew he was going to lose. The theater of sympathy and outrage had gone on far too long, the show was a flop, and the leading man was obliged to take his curtain call.
Ok, but it was a bit of a plot twist to see the leading man booing the audience. Not entirely unexpected, considering the leading man, but still.
As the saying goes, politics makes strange drinking buddies:
Court Says Police Need Warrant for Blood Test
By ADAM LIPTAK
WASHINGTON — The fact that alcohol dissipates from the bloodstream over time does not by itself give the police the right to draw blood without a warrant in drunken-driving investigations, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in an opinion joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and, for the most part, Anthony M. Kennedy, affirmed the state court’s decision. Justice Sotomayor said many factors had to be considered in deciding whether a warrant was needed.
“Whether a warrantless blood test of a drunk-driving suspect is reasonable must be determined case by case based on the totality of the circumstances,” Justice Sotomayor wrote.
Among the relevant factors, she said, are “the practical problems of obtaining a warrant within a time frame that still preserves the opportunity to obtain reliable evidence.” She said technological developments made promptly obtaining a warrant possible in many circumstances.
So our living, breathing Constitution can be asked to submit to a breathalyzer but not give blood. However, the court was less divided than appears:
...Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Samuel A. Alito Jr., concurred in part and dissented in part.
Thomas hung up a No Sale sign:
Justice Clarence Thomas dissented in the case, Missouri v. McNeely, No. 11-1425. “Nothing in the Fourth Amendment requires officers to allow evidence essential to enforcement of drunk-driving laws to be destroyed while they wait for a warrant to issue,” Justice Thomas wrote.
This is all very topical relative to driving under the influence of marijuana because the breakdown of the testable products that would indicate impairment is quite rapid. And since you ask, smoking and driving don't mix well.
By now it's well- known that 90 percent of the American people support universal background checks that make it harder for a dangerous person to buy a gun. We're talking about convicted felons, people convicted of domestic violence, people with a severe mental illness.
Ninety percent of Americans support that idea. Most Americans think that's already the law.
Ninety percent of the public supports this but the President couldn't push it through a Democratic-led Senate? That is a stunning failure of leadership and leaves one wondering whether Obama could organize a beer bash for thirsty sailors on the 4th of July.
But maybe his leadership is not so dismal, and it is his honesty (or knowledge) that is at issue. What do detailed polls actually show about support for background checks? CNN polled on this question in early April with interesting results:
According to the poll, 89% of Americans support the background checks already on the books - those required for purchases at gun stores and other businesses that sell guns. Three proposals, covering gun shows, person-to-person sales, and transfers between family members, would add to the existing laws, and 86% of Americans support at least one of those three additional checks.
The most popular is the gun show proposal, which 83% of all Americans support. Seven in ten favor background checks on prospective buyers trying to purchase a gun from another person who is not a gun dealer but owns a gun and wants to sell it. Least popular is a proposal to require background checks for buyers who are purchasing a gun from a family member or receiving it as a gift. Support for that proposal drops to 54% - still a majority, but not as popular as gun show requirements.
Let's put that as a graphic from PollingReports.com:
So when our peerless leader says that "90 percent of the American people support universal background checks" he really means that roughly 90% support the current law and a bare majority favor extending that law to family transfers.
I wondr if he knows he is wrong about this?
Well. If I were giving Obama advice I would say that in the same way that the best can be the enemy of the good, the stupidest can be the eneny of the marginally plausible. The assault weapons ban was a politcal non-starter that labelled its supporters (including Obama) as laughably ignorant on basic gun design and basic Constitutional issues. That inclusion tends to poison the subsequent conversation.
But don't take my word for it! Here is the NY Times describing Sen. Feinstein's debacle:
Almost immediately after the murders in Newtown, gun control advocates and the Democratic leadership in the Senate decided that legislation strengthening background checks for gun purchases was their best avenue for success. (Though in a sign of how they miscalculated over all, that measure was also defeated on Wednesday, falling five votes short.)
An assault weapons ban was never going to attract senators like Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, with A ratings from the National Rifle Association, whose support would be needed for a compromise. And Democrats now privately complain that Ms. Feinstein’s bill seemed to rally gun control opponents, who could point to it as Exhibit A in what they perceived as a federal conspiracy to take guns away from law-abiding citizens.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A bipartisan effort to expand background checks is in deep trouble as the Senate approaches a long-awaited vote on the linchpin of the drive to curb gun violence. As the showdown draws near, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows ebbing public support for tightening gun control laws.
Perhaps helping explain Democrats' problems, an AP-GfK poll this month showed that 49 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws. That was down from 58 percent who said so in January -- a month after the December killings of 20 children and six aides at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school propelled gun violence into a national issue.
When "stricter laws" includes fantasy and nonsense the public may lose a bit of the nuance. Add to that Obama's ongoing inability to move the needle and here we are. On to immigration reform!
CANDOR: Here is Obama using the same stale stats to make the case for expanded background checks:
All it did was extend the same background check rules that already apply to guns purchased from a dealer to guns purchased at gun shows or over the Internet. So 60 percent of guns are already purchased through a background check system.
This would have covered a lot of the guns that are currently outside that system.
I think he is impenetrable on this one, but it certainly adds irony to this:
But instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill.
We know what he is but what are they?
Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American
There is a double standard: White terrorists are dealt with as lone wolves, Islamists are existential threats
It's all about white male privilege, don't you know? Fortunately, the latest news is that videotape studies have led to a white suspect. Exhale! [Hold that exhale! Per Breitbart, CNN is reporting that the suspect is "a dark skinned male", but CNN jumped the gun on their arrest report, so who knows?]
This has been most obvious in the context of recent mass shootings. In those awful episodes, a religious or ethnic minority group lacking such privilege would likely be collectively slandered and/or targeted with surveillance or profiling (or worse) if some of its individuals comprised most of the mass shooters. However, white male privilege means white men are not collectively denigrated/targeted for those shootings — even though most come at the hands of white dudes.
Really? "Most come at the hands of white dudes"? That has been debunked, but the news has not reached SirotaWorld. Our hero links to his earlier presentation of that misinformation and also links to this Mother Jones study of mass shootings over the last thirty years. Let me extract from that and help him with the numbers:
Since 1982, there have been at least 62 mass shootings* across the country
Two involved partners (Columbine and Westside Middle School), for a total of 64 killers.
Forty four of the killers were white males. Only one of them was a woman.
Simple arithmetic says that 19 were male shooters of color, unless Mother Jones can't identify white people accurately.
So, are white men over-represented in that group? Well, men are over-represented in this group: men are about half the total poulation but over 98% of mass shooters.
But once we embrace the grim reality that mass shooters are men, white men don't look so bad. In the US, whites are roughly 70% of the population today and were a higher proportion back when this time series begins in 1980 (per this chart, non-Hispanic whites were 80% of the population in 1980).
And 44 of the 63 male shooters were white, which is 70%. So whites are engaging in mass shootings roughly in proportion to their place in the population. Will that track over to bombers? Who knows?
But it does mean that this comment from Sirota is literally accurate but arithmetically inept:
I said that because most of the mass shootings in America come at the hands of white men, there would likely be political opposition to initiatives that propose to use those facts to profile the demographic group to which these killers belong.
Well, most men in America are white so it is not a total surprise that most mass shooters are white. However, on a proportional basis as a profiling technique, race does not jump off the page as helpful in predicting a propensity for mass shooting.
But I think the reality-based community is enjoying their own reality on this one.
Times columnist and global raconteur Tom Friedman outdoes himself as he tries to put the Boston bombing into perspective:
Bring on the Next Marathon
We still do not know who set off the Boston Marathon bombs or why. But we do know now, after 9/11, after all the terrorism the world has seen in the last decade, what the right reaction is: wash the sidewalk, wipe away the blood, and let whoever did it know that while they have sickeningly maimed and killed some of our brothers and sisters, they have left no trace on our society or way of life. Terrorists are not strong enough to do that — only we can do that to ourselves — and we must never accommodate them.
So let’s repair the sidewalk immediately, fix the windows, fill the holes and leave no trace — no shrines, no flowers, no statues, no plaques — and return life to normal there as fast as possible. Let’s defy the terrorists, by not allowing them to leave even the smallest scar on our streets, and honor the dead by sanctifying our values, by affirming life and all those things that make us stronger and bring us closer together as a country.
Seriously? The terrorism he is describing (he opens with the example of a Tel Aviv bombing) is politically motivated. Yet as he notes, we don't even know who the bomber was or what the motive might have been - isn't it a bit early to announce that we will win by ignoring the guy?
And if, just for example, the bomber is a lone nutjob desperately in need of better mental health care and reporting, why does ignoring him make any sense at all? Was Tom Friedman exhorting us to ignore the lone psychos in Aurora and Sandy Hook? He was not - Sandy Hook was a clear signal for an assault weapons ban, but killing and maiming with bombs gets a pass?
It is inconceivable to me that Tom Friedman or his editors would ever run a column telling the Sandy Hook parents that it was time to move on or else Adam Lanza wins. So how the Times let pass this exhortation to the newly legless to just get over it is beyond me.
SOMETIMES THE BIG PICTURE IS THERE IS NO PICTURE: We have star shooters like Mark Chapman who gain their infamy by shooting a celebrity. Why can't we have psycho star bombers whose only motive is headlines and notoriety [and a clean getaway]? Why couldn't the Boston bomber simply be Adam Lanza or James Holmes with a bomb instead of a gun?
We all hope that the investigation will turn up some answers but to prejudge this as conventional terror motivated by some sort of political agenda is premature and Friedmanesque.
I HAVE COMPANY: Sen. Claire McCaskill makes a similar point:
Claire McCaskill: If Boston bombings are terrorism, why not Sandy Hook?
The NY Times reports that the person of interest is no longer so interesting:
Investigators searched a house in a nearby suburb late Monday night, but later said the search had proved fruitless.
Late Monday night, law enforcement officials descended on an apartment building in the suburb of Revere, about five miles north of Copley Square, linked to a man the police took into custody near the scene of the bombings. But on Tuesday morning, one law enforcement official said investigators had determined that the man, who was injured in the blast and was questioned at the hospital, was not involved in the attack.
I assume that this is the Saudi national mentioned by other news outlets, but it would kill the Times to identify someone so plainly, unless they were a white middle-aged Tea Partier.
And white smoke is not just for popes:
Retired FBI bomb technician Kevin G. Miles said the attack could “easily” have been the work of one person.
“A one-man operation could easily do something like this,” Miles said. “It would take some coordination, some know-how and some intelligence, but a lot of bombers throughout history have been one person.”
Miles said the white smoke was indicative of a “commercially available explosive,” such as smokeless gunpowder.
“It can be very powerful. Smokeless powder confined in a pipe bomb can function with the same velocity as TNT,” Miles said.
This story says that white smoke indicated a commercially available explosive whereas black smoke would indicate more powerful, military grade stuff:
The white smoke that emanated from the blasts indicate this was likely a smokeless or black powder, he says, not a military-type explosive such as C-4 or plastic explosives, which give off black smoke.
FWIW, the Times Square bomber's car bomb was built from commercially available explosives. I infer that the absence of high-tech explosives does not prove much about the possible background of the bomber.
WHAT IS A 'TERROR ATTACK'? I have no doubt that this attack could be accurately described as having employed terrorist tactics. But IMHO, calling something a terror attack imputes a motive, and we don't currently know what the motive in Boston may have been.
Just to add my bit to the random speculation, suppose this was (a) the act of a disgruntled ex-employee of one of the businesses on that street, or (b) a jilted ex-lover, or (c) a Hollywood caper film diversion from the real crime, such as a jewlery store vault robbery taking place over the three-day weekend? Would we still call it a terror attack?
Not that I am a reliable Obama apologist, but criticizing him for being a mush-mouth who can't say "terror" seems premature.
Which also means I disagree with this:
The investigation in Boston is just getting started. But we know enough say it was, indeed, an act of terrorism. Terrorism is an act of violence, aimed at non-combatants, designed to intimidate or coerce a population into political change. We don’t know who set these bombs off, but they targeted a high-profile public event guaranteed to capture publicity and compel the United States government to respond. Such acts are inherently political. The bombs in Boston were terrorism.
And if the perpetrator is a jilted nut job of a lover who was incensed that his significant other was running the marathon instead of spending time with him? Still a political act?
Or why speculate about Boston when other examples abound. Was Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, engaged in a poltical act of terrorism? How about the Va Tech psycho?
If I had to bet, I would put my money on terror as the motive. But the President of the United States, in his first statement, should not be betting.
BUT THEN AGAIN: This just in from the White House:
“This was a heinous and cowardly act and given what we now know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism,” Obama said in televised comments from the White House. “Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.”
“What we don’t yet know, however, is who carried out this attack or why,” the president said, pledging to use all resources to find those responsible. ”We will find whoever harmed our citizens and we will bring them to justice,” he insisted.
“We also know this,” Obama said. “The American people refuse to be terrorized.”
Based on his "any time bombs are used" standard he should have called this an act of terror yesterday.
And before anyone starts - yes, President Drone Warrior kills innocent civilians with bombs. But it is not terror because they are collateral damage; we are targeting people designated as legitimate military targets.
THANK HEAVEN FOR SPORTS TALK RADIO: The NY Knicks will host the hated Boston Celtics in the first round of NBA playoff action starting this Saturday. Fraught! As one bright light on WFAN explained, seeing a Boston team will be emotional in the current context, but if the Garden faithful don't boo Pierce and Garnett then the terrorists win.
This bombing at the Boston martathon finish line is awful.
And we can add to this CNN list from 2011:
What is it about mid-April and violence in America?
(CNN) -- Mid-April marks the anniversaries of several horrendous attacks in recent U.S. history:
-- April 19, 1993: the FBI's siege of the Waco compound leaves 76 dead.
-- April 19, 1995: the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City kills 168 people.
-- April 20, 1999: A mass shooting at Columbine High School leaves 15 dead.
-- April 16, 2007: The Virginia Tech massacre kills 33.
The Oklahoma City bombing was timed to coincide with the Waco anniversary. And it's unclear whether the Columbine shooters timed that attack to mark Adolf Hitler's birthday or possibly Waco.
Is there something about this time of the year that makes these types of attacks more prevalent?
Va Tech stood alone, until today.
The head of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms likes Manchin-Toomey:
Alan Gottlieb, Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said in an email to supporters that "the gun grabbers have stepped into our trap" and that he looked forward to the bill's passage.
“The bill bans any federal gun registry and carries a 15 year prison term for anyone who violates it," he continues. “We protect and expand a good number of pro-gun rights measures as well.
But Dave Kopel says the amendment has the opposite result:
The Toomey-Manchin Amendment which may be offered as soon as Tuesday to Senator Reid’s gun control bill are billed as a “compromise” which contain a variety of provisions for gun control, and other provisions to enhance gun rights. Some of the latter, however, are not what they seem. They are badly miswritten, and are in fact major advancements for gun control. In particular:
1. The provision which claims to outlaw national gun registration in fact authorizes a national gun registry.
2. The provision which is supposed to strengthen existing federal law protecting the interstate transportation of personal firearms in fact cripples that protection.
Somebody may have outsmarted someone else. Now that Tiger has failed to win the Masters legal minds can turn elsewhere.
A golf guy cogently and convincingly explained to me that under the Rules of Golf Tiger Woods should have been DQ'ed, or done the right thing and auto-DQ'ed. And don't be distracted by viewers phoning in complaints - golfers have been giving press conferences for decades and it was Tiger's own admission at a press confrence that led to this debacle.
Well. Under the living, breathing rules of golf we should move on. Anyone nostalgic for the Florida recount should be rooting for Tiger to win this thing today.
A FEAST FOR THE SECOND-GUESSERS: Improbably?
Improbably, the tear followed two more lower-body injuries suffered earlier in the game.
Compensation for injury A can often lead to injury B - this is not neuroscience here. Of course, benching Kobe late in a close, must-win game would require a strait jacket or a thorazine dart gun, but coaches and trainers are supposed to make these tough calls.
New York's new gun laws are already creating consternation and confusion. The Blaze tells us of a NY man who was ordered to give up his guns because he is on anti-anxiety medicine (which introduces some medical privacy questions).
Rochester YNN follows up:
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Thursday, a state Supreme Court Judge ruled guns seized from David Lewis, 35, must be returned to him after he was incorrectly identified as violating the mental health provision of the SAFE Act.
"We know that from the health care agency to the State Police, there was some kind of breach," said Lewis' attorney, Jim Tresmond.
Tresmond says his client was ordered to turn in his weapons last week because he was once on anti-anxiety medication, which is a violation of the SAFE Act. Wednesday, State Police informed the Erie County Clerk's Office that it made a mistake when it said Lewis was in violation of the state's new gun law.
Ooops. The State Police are engaged in a bit of finger-pointing:
In a statement, State Police say they were simply following the law. The statement says, in part:
"The State Police was very clear in its letter to the Clerk's Office regarding the need for due diligence and the need for a positive identification by the County before they removed any weapon. The final determination on whether to revoke or suspend a pistol permit or license rests solely with the County and the licensing officials."
"My impression still stands from when they called last night – they made a mistake," said County Clerk Chris Jacobs.
My impression is that this will get zero coverage.
LESS THAN ZERO: Ok, this is non-coverage.
Meanwhile, Igor Volsky has a useful guide to the background check debate that debunks each piece of conservative mythology about it.
All of my mythology are belong to them! The Volsky piece is a bit of a must-read, hafta laugh melange of stats. My fave is this:
Background checks have already contributed to violence reduction. In the 14 states and Washington D.C. that require background checks for private handgun sales (including Toomey’s home state of Pennsylvania): 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners, 17 percent fewer firearms are involved in aggravated assaults, and 48 percent less gun trafficking.
Who can dispute it? And if Connecticut were demographically and culturally comparable to Georgia I would be even more impressed.
Ludwig and Cook (2000) attempted to work around the nutmeg to peaches comparison problem by looking at changes in gun violence in the thirty-two states where the new 1994 Brady restrictions actually took hold versus the eighteen states that already had similar background checks on the books. Their conclusion holds out a bit of hope for us older folks but not so much for the rest of you:
Based on the assumption that the greatest reductions in fatal violence would be within states that were required to institute waiting periods and background checks, implementation of the Brady Act appears to have been associated with reductions in the firearm suicide rate for persons aged 55 years or older but not with reductions in homicide rates or overall suicide rates.
FROM THE MEAN STREET OF ATLANTA: This is from the NY Times Sports Section, in a profile of Josh Jarboe, a young athlete/rapper trying to get his football career on track and into the NFL:
Yet for most of that time, rap was Jarboe’s first love. He joined a group called Black Mobb, and local high school students downloaded its raps to their phones. On weekends, Black Mobb performed at clubs for teenagers and fought rival groups.
Jarboe lost some teeth one night in a fight with Waka Flocka’s crew. That is how he wound up with a gold grill — “my golds,” he called them.
Some patrons would hide guns in bushes and garbage cans around the parking lot before entering, then race to retrieve them as soon as they exited. (Jarboe said that he did not carry a gun, but that others in his group did.)
“Winning the fight isn’t who wins,” he said. “It’s who gets out the door first.”
One night, by the time Jarboe and his friends left a club, another group had lined up in the parking lot, guns aimed at the door. Somebody pushed Jarboe down just as a bullet grazed his neck. One reason he never cuts his dreads is to hide the burn mark.
“I feel so lucky,” he said one afternoon in Atlanta, sitting in the parking lot of the now-deserted club. “There were so many shootouts. Lot of people died.
“That was supposed to be me. Dead.”
Expand background checks. These guys shouldn't be carrying. Oh, wait...
A secret recording of a campaign strategy session between U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and his advisors was taped by leaders of the Progress Kentucky super PAC, says a longtime local Democratic operative.
Jacob Conway, who is on the executive committee of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, says that day, Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison, who founded and volunteered for Progress Kentucky, respectively, bragged to him about how they recorded the meeting.
The head of Progress Kentucky has resigned and is in discussions with the FBI. Ooops.
PAGING TONY ORLANDO. OR DAWN:
David Corn of Mother Jones proudly raked more self-invented muck with this sidebar to the McConnell taping:
(CNN) – One of the questions to emerge from that secret recording of a Mitch McConnell campaign strategy session is whether it proves the Senate Minority Leader is caught on tape misusing his congressional staff.
The DC-based watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics and Washington has asked the FBI to investigate.
CREW officials said the audio recording obtained by Mother Jones magazine raises questions "whether Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), violated federal law and Senate rules by misusing Senate staff or resources to conduct opposition research on potential campaign opponents."
In the Mother Jones transcript, a campaign strategist at the McConnell meeting in February is quoted as thanking "LAs" or legislative assistants (legislative assistant being a title for a specific congressional staff position) for their work in developing opposition research on potential opponents, including actress Ashley Judd, who has since decided against a run for the Kentucky seat.
"So I'll just preface my comments that this reflects the work of a lot of folks: Josh, Jesse, Phil Maxson, a lot of LAs, thank them three times, so this is a compilation of work, all the way through," the unidentified strategist is quoted as saying in the liberal magazine's transcript.
Thank them three times? Is McConnell leading a breakaway Muslim sect? Critical listeners have an alternative theory:
But listen closely, and it's also possible that same adviser may have said "thank them for their free time." It's a bit garbled and all in the ear of the beholder. Listen for yourself here.
Congressional staffers are permitted to volunteer their personal time to political activities.
I think you have to figure the speaker was channeling his inner Tony Orlando.
That alternative view seems to be finding traction, since (per NRO) Mother Jones has noted the controversy in their transcript. Lawyers can mull over this:
CREW executive director Melanie Sloan tells National Review Online her organization listened to the tape “quite closely,” and concedes that the relevant quote is “not conclusive,” but adds: “I don’t actually think it matters.” Sloan argues that the “core question” — which cannot be answered by the tape alone – remains whether or not Senate staffers were paid to conduct campaign research, which is precisely why CREW has asked the FBI and Senate ethics committee to investigate.
And the probable cause for opening an investigation is an ambiguous, illegally obtained tape? Maybe we should open investigations all over Congress. Oh, wait - having the Executive Branch investigate its opponents in the Legislative Branch based on nothing is sort of Nixonian, isn't it?
The NRA sent a letter announcing they would score a cloture vote on the Senate gun control bill if the bill was not amended in ways they found to be acceptable.
Now Dave Weigel (in whom my confidence is limited) and the AllahPundit (in whom my confidence is vast) are telling me that the vote to allow debate to begin (not a final cloture vote!) is being scored. From Dave Weigel (prior to the Thursday morning vote):
And so we have a test, at 11 a.m., of whether Republicans and red state Democrats are willing to buck a fringey NRA position even though it'll knock their ratings down by, at most, a letter grade.
And AllahP, after the motion to commence debate passed with 68 votes including 16 Republicans:
Whole lotta NRA ratings are going down tomorrow.
I am unconvinced - I don't think the NRA said what these guys say it said, and fears (or hopes!) that the Senate has defied the NRA are premature.
This is what I see in the NRA letter (via Weigel):
We hope the Senate will replace the current provisions of S. 649 with language that is properly focused on addressing mental health inadequacies; prosecuting violent criminals; and keeping our kids safe in their schools. Should it fail to do so, the NRA will make an exception to our standard policy of not “scoring” procedural votes and strongly oppose a cloture motion to move to final passage of S. 649.
That is a conditional threat focused on amendments yet to be offered and refers to a cloture vote. Today's vote did not close debate on the bill, it opened it. What was closed was debate on whether the bill should be considered at all. Slowly turn the wheels...
More from the NRA:
During consideration of S. 649, should one or more amendments be offered that adequately address these important issues while protecting the fundamental rights of law-abiding gun owners, the NRA will offer our enthusiastic support and consider those votes in our future candidate evaluations as well.
That sounds to me as if they expect the bill to be debated and amendments to be offered.
Well. I would say this is not the vote the NRA was watching and we are days (or weeks) away from the NRA grading anyone, and if it were just Weigel I would be pounding the table saying so.
SINCE YOU ASK: Surely you are not relying on my expertise about Senate procedures? My two cents is that the Senate invoked cloture on a motion to proceed to consideration of S.649. Eventually, after amendments and debate, someone will move to close debate on S.649 and put it to a final vote. Then we will see (or not) a real filibuster.
As to how the NRA will score that second cloture effort (if it comes to that), the letter says they would wait until they saw what the amended bill looked like.
Far from over? This is hardly begun. And anyone crowing (or fretting) that the NRA failed to scare the Senate is misreading their letter.
UNEXPECTEDLY: Ed Kilgore of the Washington Monthly sees it as I do:
The fragility of today’s accomplishment is best illustrated by the cascade of Republican “yea” voters on cloture making it clear they were simply voting to “allow a debate.” That doesn’t mean they won’t join the next filibuster (one which the NRA has indicated it will “score”), much less vote for Manchin-Toomey.
Jason Sattler at the National Memo will be eating crow, unless I do:
The NRA threatened to “score” Thursday’s vote against lawmakers’ ratings, hoping to kill the bill before it was even written. But 17 Republicans joined all the Democrats in the Senate except Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Mark Begich (D-AK) for cloture to prevent a filibuster from derailing the debate.
Gavin Aronsen of Mother Jones notes the NRA's watchful eye but does not link it to today's vote.
Oregon man pinned under 3,000-pound tractor saved by teen daughters
An Oregon man says his teenage daughters saved his life last weekend after they somehow lifted a 3,000-pound tractor off him after his boot slipped off the tractor's clutch and flipped.
The girls were 16 and 14.
based on calculations of what percentage of illegal crossers were caught or turned back without crossing.
Turned back without crossing? What, will they ask them to fill out a card ands drop it on their side of the fence? Or count heat signatures from high tech drone imagery of people pausing at the border and then retracing their steps back south?
Or will any Democrats administering this program simply assume that all of Mexico was deterred, thereby assuring that the program is scored as successfully deterring millions and millions of illegal aspirants.
Congressman Joe Burton opens the Bible to find evidence of natural, catastrophic climate change:
“If you believe in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change. That certainly wasn't because man had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.”
The notion that epic, Noah-style catastrophic flooding ocurred during recent Ice Ages went from controversial to Conventional Wisdom among geologists after the details of the Glacial Lake Missoula were pinned down:
About 12,000 years ago, the valleys of western Montana lay beneath a lake nearly 2,000 feet deep. Glacial Lake Missoula formed as the Cordilleran Ice Sheet dammed the Clark Fork River just as it entered Idaho. The rising water behind the glacial dam weakened it until water burst through in a catastrophic flood that raced across Idaho, Oregon, and Washington toward the Pacific Ocean. Thundering waves and chunks of ice tore away soils and mountainsides, deposited giant ripple marks, created the scablands of eastern Washington and carved the Columbia River Gorge. Over the course of centuries, Glacial Lake Missoula filled and emptied in repeated cycles, leaving its story embedded in the land.
Mind boggling. And once geologists knew what to look for, they found evidence of other glacial lakes in Europe and Asia. From Discover Magazine:
Recognition of the Missoula flood helped other geologists identify similar landforms in Asia, Europe, Alaska, and the American Midwest, as well as on Mars. There is now compelling evidence for many gigantic ancient floods where glacial ice dams failed time and again: At the end of the last glaciation, some 10,000 years ago, giant ice-dammed lakes in Eurasia and North America repeatedly produced huge floods. In Siberia, rivers spilled over drainage divides and changed their courses. England’s fate as an island was sealed by erosion from glacial floods that carved the English Channel. These were not global deluges as described in the Genesis story of Noah, but were more focused catastrophic floods taking place throughout the world. They likely inspired stories like Noah’s in many cultures, passed down through generations.
Did they mention Noah? So did the NY Times in a 1996 story about how climate change may have led to Noah's flood around the Black Sea:
LONG before the splendid palaces and minarets of Istanbul lined its shore, the Bosporus was little more than a narrow spillway where fresh water from the ancient Black Sea flowed out to the Aegean Sea and on to the Mediterranean. Then rising sea levels worldwide brought about a cataclysmic reversal. Suddenly, sea water cascaded through the Bosporus with a force 400 times mightier than that of Niagara Falls, the terrifying sound of the roar carrying for at least 60 miles.
In perhaps less than a year, the Black Sea turned brackish and rose several hundred feet, inundating former shores and river valleys deep into the interior. The relentless waters encroached on the land at a rate of half a mile to a mile a day. More than 60,000 square miles of land were soon submerged, a 30 percent expansion in the Black Sea's size, which essentially gave the body of water its modern configuration.
An international team of geologists and oceanographers has reconstructed the history of this catastrophic flood from data gathered by a Russian research ship in 1993. Seismic soundings and sediment cores revealed traces of the sea's former shorelines, showing an abrupt 500-foot rise in water levels. Radiocarbon dating of the transition from freshwater to marine organisms in the cores put the time of the event about 7,500 years ago, or 5500 B.C.
Could it be, Dr. Ryan and Dr. Pittman speculate, that the people driven from their land by the flood were, in part, responsible for the spread of farming into Europe and advances in agriculture and irrigation to the south, in Anatolia and Mesopotamia? These cultural changes occurred around the same time as the rise of the Black Sea.
Could it also be, they ask, that the Black Sea deluge left such enduring memories that this inspired the later story of a great flood described in the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh? In the epic, the heroic warrior Gilgamesh makes a dangerous journey to meet the survivor of a great world flood and learn from him the secret of everlasting youth.
If a memory of the Black Sea flood indeed influenced the Gilgamesh story, then it could also be a source of the Noah story in the Book of Genesis. Scholars have long noted striking similarities between the Gilgamesh and Genesis flood accounts and suspected that the Israelites derived their version from the Gilgamesh epic or independently from a common tradition that might have stemmed from a real catastrophe long before.
Dr. Ryan and Dr. Pittman concede that a link between the Black Sea flood and Gilgamesh and Noah may be a bit of a stretch.
Ah, well. Apparently subsequent research has left this hypothesis up in the air. Still, Noah's flood does seem to be a possible example of a catastrophic but natural climate change. Other than to the Glacier Deniers, of course.
Very little in there for Dianne Feinstein and Mike Bloomberg to like.
I really can'ty glean much about the demographics of the survey audience. They do tell us this:
About The Survey
PoliceOne’s Gun Policy & Law Enforcement survey was conducted between March 4 and March 13, 2013. More than 15,000 officers completed the survey, which was promoted by PoliceOne exclusively to its 400,000 registered members, comprised of verified law enforcement professionals. Only current, former or retired law enforcement personnel were eligible to participate in the survey. The survey sample size was broadly distributed by geography and rank in proportion to the U.S. law enforcement community at large. Respondents comprised a variety of ranks from departments of all sizes, with the majority representing departments of greater than 500 officers. Of those that took the survey, 80 percent were current law enforcement officers and 20 percent were former/retired law enforcement.
As the FBI investigates left wing plotters they ought to also investigate left-cheek butt-dialers. I'm guessing some McConnell aide sat on his not-so-smart phone and left a long, puzzling message on the wrong answering machine.
Senate Republicans appear divided on the gun bill. One faction wants to be the NRA Heroes that kill the bill by filibuster, thereby picking up the donations and street cred that would otherwise go to John Boehner and the House Republicans, who are waiting with shovels for Harry Reid's product.
Another faction of Republicans seems to be in favor of letting the Red State Democrats in the Senate do a very public cliff dive:
WASHINGTON — Several Senate Republicans on Tuesday came out publicly against filibustering the first major gun control legislation since 1993 before it is even brought up for debate on the Senate floor, as advocates inched toward breaking a conservative blockade of the measure.
Mr. Reid’s decision to move ahead came after Senate Republicans began splintering on whether the bill should be allowed full consideration on the Senate floor. Four Republican senators, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, said Tuesday that they would support a procedural motion to formally take up the gun legislation for debate and amendments. Other Republicans indicated that they were inclined to allow debate, joining Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Let's flash to coverage of Mike Bloomberg's promise to provide his own (failing) grades for pro-gun Senators:
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the nonprofit group financed by Bloomberg (I), will unveil a scoring system Tuesday to award lawmakers grades of A through F, much like the National Rifle Association, which has derived much of its power by deploying letter rankings against politicians at election time. The group’s strategists briefed The Washington Post on the plans ahead of Tuesday’s announcement.
The group’s new ratings system would produce a scorecard for senators and representatives that could serve as a guide for voters as well as campaign donors heading into the 2014 midterm elections and in future campaign cycles.
A guide to both voters and donors? Amonsgt the Progressives, that signals a wide divide:
The Mayors Against Illegal Guns scoring system was developed in part because major political donors who support gun control have been seeking guidance about how to direct their contributions in upcoming election cycles, Glaze said.
Some influential Democratic benefactors, including businessman Kenneth Lerer and technology entrepreneur David Bohnett, have warned publicly that they will not write another check to Senate Democrats who do not vote to expand background checks.
The grading system is most directly a threat to Democrats from conservative states such as Arkansas, Montana and North Carolina who could feel compelled to vote against some gun measures because of the large number of gun owners in their states yet rely on donations from liberal donors in places such as California and New York to fuel their campaigns.
The Hollywood and Manhattan libs are entitled to know what they are buying. Let em vote!
FWIW: Here is a preview of the 2014 Senate races. At a glance, no one in either party is making a big effort to appear more liberal.
The three could not have known it, but the police said later that a canvas bag Mr. Ferguson had brought along with him carried 100 more rounds of ammunition that he would likely have continued pumping into the crowd had it not been for the quick reaction of the three men who restrained him.
The men had watched fellow passengers fall forward with head and neck wounds, and sprinted for the end of the train the first time the gunman had reloaded his 9-millimeter Ruger. The second time he stopped to reload, they decided to charge him. Mark McEntee, another Garden City commuter, sprang forward with them.
I'm with McCain - I don't understand this Republican plan to filibuster Reid's gun control bill (that would be DOA in the House anyway), thereby sparing a bunch of Red State Democratic Senators the dilemma of antagonizing either their Hollywood donors or their home state voters.
I suppose the filibustering group wants to be the NRA heroes that blocked the gun bill. Geez, couldn't they be the heroes who let the Dems march off a cliff and (Here's hoping!) gave the Senate back to the Republicans?