Waste in Chicago Police Department

Chicago suffered 507 murders in 2012, up from 433 in 2011.  The increase was a result of cuts in the number of police and a reorganization of police, such as moving detectives from high to low crime areas of the city.  But after cutting back on the number of police, even Chicago politicians realized that had been a mistake. But their short term solution was to massively increase overtime hours for existing police officers.  In 2013, some $93 million was spent on overtime, burning through two-thirds of their $32 million overtime budget in just their first three months of the year.  The official number of murders then declined to 415, though there are some real issues of how much of that decline was due to corruption and falsifying the numbers.  Despite the decline in Chicago murders, the city still had more murders than more populous cities -- New York and Los Angeles.  LA had 298 murders in 2012 and about 250 in 2013.  New York had 414 murders in 2012 and 333 in 2013.  


Only 37 percent of Americans trust the federal government

These results are from a new Fox News poll.  One thing that should be explained is that Democrats trust in government goes up when there is a Democratic president and Republican trust is up when there is a Republican.  That explains the different results for Republicans and Democrats.  Interestingly, despite all the scandals with the IRS, NSA, EPA, AP, State Department, Benghazi, VA, and others, the level of trust in the federal government is actually higher now than last year or in 2010.

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Roundup of news on Veterans Affairs Scandal


Gallup: Percent of Americans who believe that death penalty is morally acceptable essentially unchanged since 2001

Americans' Views of Death Penalty as Morally Acceptable

Gallup implies that support is waning.
The results are based on Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 8-11. On April 29, an Oklahoma death row inmate given a lethal injection appeared to suffer for an extended period of time until finally dying of a heart attack. That incident led to the postponement of a second execution scheduled in Oklahoma that day and raised questions about the methods used to execute prisoners. 
The case did not fundamentally alter Americans' perceptions of the death penalty, however, with a solid majority viewing it as morally acceptable. This percentage is similar to the 60% who say they favor the death penalty as punishment for murder in Gallup's October update. 
But the longer-term trends reveal that Americans have become less supportive of the death penalty. Gallup first asked the moral acceptability question in 2001, with an average 66% saying it was acceptable between 2001 and the peak in 2006. Over the last three years, the percentage saying it is morally acceptable has averaged 60%. . . .
The Gallup poll was right after Oklahoma "botched" effort.  Another Angus Reid poll showed record support after Boston Bombing. 
78 per cent of respondents (+8 since September 2011) supportthe possibility of prosecutors relying on the deathpenalty for murder cases in the United States.
The poll was conducted after the Boston Marathon bombings and concluded before the massive manhunt that resulted in the arrest of one of the suspects.
Respondents in the South (80%) and West (79%) are more likely to endorse capital punishment, along with supporters of the Republican Party (86%). . . . 
But if you look at the average since 1936, the current poll numbers are almost the same as the average from 1936 through 2012.
Trend: Are You in Favor of the Death Penalty for a Person Convicted of Murder?


Exciting new cancer treatment wipes out woman's cancer that was viewed as otherwise untreatable

This is an amazing case.  Hopefully it is just a matter of time before other types of cancer can be treated and they refine it to be effective on more people.  From the Washington Post:
Her name is Stacy Erholtz. For years, the 50-year-old mom from Pequot Lakes, Minn., battled myeloma, a blood cancer that affects bone marrow. She had few options left. 
She had been through chemotherapy treatments and two stem cell transplants. But it wasn’t enough. Soon, scans showed she had tumors growing all over her body. 
One grew on her forehead, destroying a bone in her skull and pushing on her brain. Her children named it Evan, her doctor said. Cancer had infiltrated her bone marrow. 
So, as part of a two-patient clinical trial, doctors at theMayo Clinic injected Erholtz with 100 billion units of the measles virus – enough to inoculate 10 million people. 
Her doctor said they were entering the unknown. 
Five minutes into the hour-long process, Erholtz got a terrible headache. Two hours later, she started shaking and vomiting. Her temperature hit 105 degrees, Stephen Russell, the lead researcher on the case, told The Washington Post early Thursday morning. 
“Thirty-six hours after the virus infusion was finished, she told me, ‘Evan has started shrinking,’” Russell said. Over the next several weeks, the tumor on her forehead disappeared completely and, over time, the other tumors in her body did, too. . . .


Ending Democracy in the US?: Evidence of Obama's corruption in using IRS to destroy political enemies becomes too much to ignore

At this point the evidence clearly points to political appointees in Washington, DC coordinating the IRS to target conservatives.  The fact that the Obama administration has just as clearly hid this information and also stymied investigations at every possible point is evidence of what lawyers would call "a guilty mind."  Using the power of government to destroy his political enemies is surely what happens with governments move towards dictatorship.  In this case, with the IRS not granting tax exempt status to conservative groups, it made it much harder for Obama's opponents to organize and raise money.  Who knows how much of a difference this made in the 2012 elections, but the Obama administration was apparently willing to take a huge political risk so they must have throughout that this was important for them to do.

Without competitive elections and government putting its heavy hand on one side of the scale, those in power can pretend that they live in a democracy without actually living in one.

Fox News has some of the new emails that have just been released available here.  From Mediaite:
The Daily Beast columnist Kirsten Powers suggested that Congress simply submit Freedom of Information Act requests when they ask the administration to release documents. “It’s kind of hard to believe that they couldn’t have figured out that D.C. was involved in this,” she added.
“It gives lie to the administration claim that this had nothing to do with the election, nothing to do with targeting opponents of the administration,” Krauthammer submitted.
“This is a major abuse of power,” he continued. “They covered up for two years and now they say, ‘Hey, dude, two year old story.’ So it’s old news.”
He concluded by asking if the media would cover the story as he saw it, evidence of the White House “misleading America and covering it up.” . . .
Note that one of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon included his alleged misuse of the IRS. Article 2 of the Articles of Impeachment was carefully framed to charge that Nixon “endeavored to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposes not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigation to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.”

The key word here is "endeavored."  Nixon's efforts with the IRS were clearly disturbing, but they were also remarkably unsuccessful.  In University of Wisconsin–Madison historian Stanley Kutler's history of Watergate entitled "The Wars of Watergate," he mentions only one person who was audited for three years: Washington Post attorney Edward Bennett Williams.  Information had been acquired on others, but nothing was apparently done with it.  Indeed, Nixon's White House complained about their inability to do what they wanted.  For example, Nixon henchman Jack Caulfield noted that the IRS was a “monstrous bureaucracy…dominated and controlled by Democrats.”

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With Drug Cartel Violence Rampant, Mexican government cracks down on citizens ("vigilantes") who are trying to protect themselves

With Mexico's extremely strict gun control laws failing to stop drug cartels from getting a hold of weapons, the Mexican government is using its resources to making sure that private citizens aren't able to defend themselves.  From the Washington Post:
The Mexican government is facing a crucial test over the coming days as it moves to rein in armed militia groups across the mountain towns of Michoacan, the volatile western state where avocado farmers and lime pickers have banded together to drive out drug cartel gangsters. 
While the “self-defense” movement has been celebrated in many corners of Mexico, it has also produced embarrassing images of teenage vigilantes running highway checkpoints and brandishing AK-47s and other weapons that are supposed to be illegal. 
The government of President Enrique Peña Nieto began demobilizing the militias this weekend and replacing them with a new force, the Rural Police, whose ranks will be drawn from the vigilantes themselves. 
But the government’s demobilization push has also created the potential for new clashes: between Mexican security forces and militiamen, but also among rival militias, including those that have boycotted the process and allege their former comrades are morphing into new, government-sanctioned criminal groups. . . . .  
“Everyone is afraid that the government will make a deal and the cartel will come back,” said Eriberto Sanchez, a portly 30-year-old militiaman standing at a roadside bunker of fraying sandbags, a mother-of-pearl-handled Colt .38 pistol tucked in his belt. “We don’t have an honest government.”
If Mexican police and soldiers try to forcibly disarm the militias, “a lot of blood will be spilled,” he said. . . .

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$1.2 billion in tax dollars wasted on Obamacare contractor?

In 2013, Obama administration released 36,000 illegal alien criminals awaiting deportation


"UCLA prof says stats prove school's admissions illegally favor blacks"

This article by my son Maxim was written about my friend Tim Groseclose.  California public universities might be barred by law from explicitly discriminating on the basis of race in admissions, but Groseclose shows what everyone knows is true: they are still discriminating using race.  The sad thing is that putting students in schools that are too difficult for them does no favor for the student.  Others also are hurt by moving them to lower level schools.  Asians are a particularly aggrieved group that is obviously harmed by this policy.

From Fox News:
Public universities in California are barred from using race as a factor in admitting students, but a UCLA professor who once served on its admissions oversight team says he has proof they do it anyway. 
While the first round of admissions consideration is handled fairly, African-American students are nearly three times as likely to make it out of the "maybe" pile than equally-qualified white students, and more than twice as likely as Asians, according to Tim Groseclose, a political science professor at the school and author of a new book titled, “Cheating: An Insider's Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA.” 
“UCLA is using racial preferences in admissions,” Groseclose, who made his case using data from 2006-2009, told FoxNews.com
After a first look results in most applications being either accepted or rejected, a handful of senior university staff sift through those marked for further consideration, according to Groseclose. That’s where the alleged bias happens. He found black applicants were accepted at a  43 percent rate in the second round, while whites were accepted at a 15 percent rate and Asians at an 18 percent rate. . . .
Tim is apparently leaving UCLA to go to George Mason University in Virginia. 

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Bloomberg's groups claim victory in "Jack in the Box" decision on guns when nothing actually changed

With Moms Demand Action president Shannon Watts using armed security guards when she is simply walking around, there is a bit of irony with MDA pushing to ban guns in different businesses. Their latest push is for "Jack in the Box," but they are claiming victory where it isn't obvious what they have won in any practical sense.  Jack in the Box's Vice President of Corporate Communications Brian Luscomb had this comment:
“The presence of guns inside a restaurant could create an uncomfortable situation for our guests and employees and lead to unintended consequences.”
But unless the guns are banned this actually changes nothing.

Moms Demand Action crows about the Starbucks precedent in this case, but it is more of a precedent than most might think.  MDA claims: "Starbucks changed its policy of allowing guns in stores as a result of the campaign."  But again, nothing practically changed.


With rampant corruption in even how crime statistics are recorded, Polls show only 29% would vote for Rahm Emanuel for mayor

Rahm Emanuel's re-election effort isn't looking so hot.  It could very likely derail his well-known ambitions of becoming governor and then president.  From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Only one in five Chicago voters credit Mayor Rahm Emanuel with doing a better job of running the city than Richard M. Daley did, and only 29 percent would support him if the mayoral election were held today.
Those are the results of a new poll conducted for Early & Often, the Chicago Sun-Times’ political portal. The telephone survey of 511 registered Chicago voters who said they were “very likely” to go to the polls on Feb. 24 was conducted Wednesday by the firm of McKeon & Associates.
“Right now, Rahm is not connecting. If he doesn’t do that, he’s gonna lose,” McKeon said. . . .


Newest piece at National Review: "Another Round in the Death-Penalty Debate," Correcting mistakes in the Washington Post

On Sunday in the Washington Post, Radley Balko attacked a recent piece that CPRC's John Lott had on the death penalty.  John Lott's piece that responds to Balko starts this way:
The death-penalty debate goes on. After a piece that I wrote about the debate last week, National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke wrote a response, followed later by a much stronger attack by the Washington Post’s Radley Balko.
Cooke’s response was philosophical and drew a distinction between killing someone in self-defense and using the death penalty, though given the evidence that the death penalty deters murders and thus saves lives, that distinction isn’t as clear as he thinks.
Balko, a blogger/reporter for the Washington Post, based his reply on empirical evidence. He puts a lot of faith in studies by death-penalty opponents. Let me address his major points in turn:
-- “It’s important to factor in the severity of the crime. And when a black defendant and a white defendant are convicted of murders with similar aggravating circumstances, the black defendant is significantly more likely to get the death penalty.”
Over the period from 1977 to 2011, the rate of aggravating circumstances for murders was higher for black defendants for murder than it was for whites. Yet, despite that and with whites accounting for fewer murders than blacks (whites commit about 46.8 percent of all murders committed by whites and blacks), whites account for 57 percent of the white and black prisoners sentenced to death for murder.
Finally, even after being sentenced to death at a higher rate than blacks, whites on death row over the decades have had a significantly higher probability of actually being executed than blacks. Over the years from 1977 to 2011, 65 percent of the total number of whites and blacks who have been executed have been white.
This last point is particularly important, since everyone on death row has been convicted of murder with aggravating circumstances. If there is any bias, it is in the opposite direction that Balko claims.
-- “DNA testing has shown that the criminal justice system is flawed — more flawed than most of the public had probably thought. Lott tries to dismiss these concerns, and it’s here that his statistics really get screwy. . . .  I don’t know where Lott gets the number 34. I can’t find it anywhere at the Innocence Project link he provides. The actual number of people convicted of murder who were later exonerated by DNA testing is 104.” . . .

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Is there even one death penalty execution where the DNA shows that a mistake has been made?

Despite the concerns about possible errors in the death penalty and the use of DNA evidence, one thing is very clear: there is not a single case where DNA shows that an innocent person was put to death.  From the Crime Prevention Research Center:
The one modern case that death penalty opponents point to that comes closest to meeting this claim involves Claude Jones Texas, who was convicted in 1989 and executed in 2000. Two pieces of evidence were involved in his trial: the testimony of two accomplice who planned the robbery with Jones and who provided him with the gun used in the killing as well as a hair sample at the scene that turned out to be someone else’s. The fact that the hair at the scene was someone else’s would have meant that piece of evidence could no longer be used to prove that Jones actually went into the store, but the failure of the DNA test to match Jones to the hair does not prove that Jones didn’t do the killing because some many people visited the store it could have been from someone who didn’t commit the murder. The issue here is whether there was still enough evidence with the witness’ testimony and the gun to place Jones at the scene of the crime. . . .
The CPRC has useful discussion on the over all error rate for death penalty cases available here



Do you need more proof that government is inefficient?: Just 4 failed Obamacare state website exchanges cost a total of at least $474 million to set up

I don't see how it is possible to set up websites that cost so much money.  The amusing thing is they don't even know exactly how much these four websites will cost.  From Politico:
Nearly half a billion dollars in federal money has been spent developing four state Obamacare exchanges that are now in shambles — and the final price tag for salvaging them may go sharply higher. 
Each of the states — Massachusetts, Oregon, Nevada and Maryland — embraced Obamacare, and each underperformed. All have come under scathing criticism and now face months of uncertainty as they rush to rebuild their systems or transition to the federal exchange. 
The federal government is caught between writing still more exorbitant checks to give them a second chance at creating viable exchanges of their own or, for a lesser although not inexpensive sum, adding still more states to HealthCare.gov. The federal system is already serving 36 states, far more than originally anticipated. . . .



"Rogoff-Reinhart data scandal"

From the UK Guardian:
This week, here's what we found out: that very convincing data that Reinhart and Rogoff presented was wrong. Their research was messily done with spreadsheet errors. Here's the gist: Reinhart and Rogoff said that economies with more than 90% debt have economic growth of -.1%, which would put them at risk of recessions. 
In fact, new research finds, those countries grow their economies by 2.2% a year. To put that in perspective, that's more growth than the US has had for quite a while. Rogoff and Reinhart's research on debt and austerity finally collapsed under scrutiny of a team from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, which received the numbers from the economists. Reinhart and Rogoff replied, saying, in essence that some of their data may have been wrong, but their gist was right. This isn't exactly satisfying. If the numbers aren't really right, why would the conclusion be correct
The travails of Rogoff and Reinhart show one thing conclusively: we put too much trust in economics to tell us how to run the country. Economics cannot actually bear this burden. It is largely a science of educated guesses. Economics is a useful science, but it is not an infallible one. It is, in particular, an unreliable policy tool. . . . .
This is a little old, but I should have posted it earlier. 

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