Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Obama-supporter Aaron Alexis opens fire in Navy Yard gun-free zone

I want to make a few points about this latest multiple-victim public shooting, and I’ll do it with several links.

My friend Conway posted this article from National Review showing that multiple-victim public shootings are common in gun-free zones.

Excerpt:

Gun-free zones have been the most popular response to previous mass killings. But many law-enforcement officials say they are actually counterproductive. “Guns are already banned in schools. That is why the shootings happen in schools. A school is a ‘helpless-victim zone,’” says Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff. “Preventing any adult at a school from having access to a firearm eliminates any chance the killer can be stopped in time to prevent a rampage,” Jim Kouri, the public-information officer of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, told me earlier this year at the time of the Aurora, Colo., Batman-movie shooting. Indeed, there have been many instances — from the high-school shooting by Luke Woodham in Mississippi, to the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs, Colo. — where a killer has been stopped after someone got a gun from a parked car or elsewhere and confronted the shooter.

Economists John Lott and William Landes conducted a groundbreaking study in 1999, and found that a common theme of mass shootings is that they occur in places where guns are banned and killers know everyone will be unarmed, such as shopping malls and schools.

I spoke with Lott after the Newtown shooting, and he confirmed that nothing has changed to alter his findings. He noted that the Aurora shooter, who killed twelve people earlier this year, had a choice of seven movie theaters that were showing the Batman movie he was obsessed with. All were within a 20-minute drive of his home. The Cinemark Theater the killer ultimately chose wasn’t the closest, but it was the only one that posted signs saying it banned concealed handguns carried by law-abiding individuals. All of the other theaters allowed the approximately 4 percent of Colorado adults who have a concealed-handgun permit to enter with their weapons.

“Disarming law-abiding citizens leaves them as sitting ducks,” Lott told me. “A couple hundred people were in the Cinemark Theater when the killer arrived. There is an extremely high probability that one or more of them would have had a legal concealed handgun with him if they had not been banned.”

Lott offers a final damning statistic: “With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.”

There is no evidence that private holders of concealed-carry permits (which are either easy to obtain or not even required in more than 40 states) are any more irresponsible with firearms than the police. According to a 2005 to 2007 study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Bowling Green State University, police nationwide were convicted of firearms violations at least at a 0.002 percent annual rate. That’s about the same rate as holders of carry permits in the states with “shall issue” laws.

And another point to make is that the shooter was a liberal Democrat who opposed George W. Bush and supported Barack Obama.

Shooter was a pro-Obama, anti-Bush leftist

Here’s the news clip from CNN:

And the story from center-right Breitbart News about the clip:

Tuesday, on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” Michael Ritrovato spoke at length about his friend, suspected Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis. After expressing his condolences to the victims and their families, Ritrovato then expressed his shock over the actions of a man he described as being “like a brother to me” and a “good-natured guy.”

Ritrovato went on to explain that two of them had a close relationship based in part on their differences, specifically race and politics. Alexis was black, Ritrovato is white. Ritrovato described himself as conservative and Alexis is “more of a liberal type” who supported Barack Obama:

I would say things like, ‘You know, you are my brother from another mother.’ And he would say things like, ‘You’re my Italian mafia guy from New York.’ So we had things we joked about: Aaron wasn’t conservative like I am. He was more of a liberal type; he wasn’t happy with the former [Bush] administration. He was more happy with this [the Obama] administration — as far as presidential administrations.

So he is a leftist just like the Fort Hood shooter was a leftist. Just like Tsarnaev was a leftist. Just like the FRC shooter Corkins was a leftist. Just like the Gabby Giffords shooter was a leftist. Just like Jared Loughner was a leftist. These people are all Democrats. (See below for links). If gun control is for anyone, it should be for leftists. They are the crazy ones who prefer violence to debate. They aren’t used to debate, because they aren’t used to hearing other points of view.

The non-existent AR-15

Finally, the radically leftist Washington Post reports that the mainstream media invented an imaginary AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in their biased coverage, in a blatantly partisan attempt to push for more gun control.

Excerpt:

CNN correspondent Pamela Brown just reported on air that Aaron Alexis, the deceased suspect in the Navy Yard shootings, entered the facility yesterday armed with a shotgun. Citing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as well as law enforcement sources, Brown reported that the gunman had tried to purchase an AR-15 at a gun shop in Northern Virginia but was turned down. Two pistols were also recovered.

He had a shotgun and two handguns – no AR-15, because he was turned down for an AR-15.

But radically leftist CNN reported that he had an AR-15:

This morning, CNN’s John Berman said on the network’s program “Early Start”: “Alexis is the only gunman now, officials say. Yesterday, there was word that there was maybe a second, a third possible person involved in the attack. That is no longer the case. Officials say that Aaron Alexis was a lone gunman. This is what we know about him this morning. We know that he had an AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle. He also had a different rifle and a glock, that is a handgun with him. It’s believed that the AR-15 was the main murder weapon used from the atrium above. That is also the weapon you’ll remember used by Adam Lanza in the Newtown massacre and James Holmes in Aurora. That’s the Colorado movie theater massacre.”

Other leftist “news” sources kept the lie going:

[...]The Associated Press:

Alexis carried three weapons: an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun, and a handgun that he took from a police officer at the scene, according to two federal law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation. The AR-15 is the same type of rifle used in last year’s mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that killed 20 students and six women. The weapon was also used in the shooting at a Colorado movie theater that killed 12 and wounded 70.

The Washington Post notes that about a half-dozen leftist news sources reported on the fictitious AR-15, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and the New York Times.

You would think these left-wing media people would learn from previous retractions not to let their left-wing politics determine the narrative, but they don’t. It’s the same thing every day, over and over. This is what happens, though, when newsrooms are packed full of radical leftists. There is no diversity of opinion, no debate, no critical thinking. It’s an echo chamber.

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Republican Congresswoman refuses to abort baby diagnosed with fatal condition

Unborn baby scheming about doing the right thing

Unborn baby scheming about doing the right thing

Here’s a story from National Review:

World magazine brings some happy news today: Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler (R., Wash.) and her husband Daniel Beutler have announced the birth of their daughter. What makes this particular arrival noteworthy is that Abigail was diagnosed in utero with Potter’s Sequence, a rare condition that impairs kidney and lung formation. Doctors informed the Beutlers that their daughter would not be able to breathe and would therefore expire moments after birth; they recommended an abortion.

Instead, the couple sought out treatment and prayed for a miracle. They finally discovered an experimental procedure, involving saline injections into the uterus to assist in lung development, and physicians at Johns Hopkins who were willing to try it. On July 15, a mere 28 weeks into the pregnancy, their faith and persistence yielded the world’s first recorded survivor of Potter’s Sequence. Despite lacking functional kidneys and weighing a mere 44 ounces at birth, little Abigail is breathing independently and responding well to peritoneal dialysis.

In a statement on the congresswoman’s Facebook page, the Beutlers thank the many doctors and nurses who rendered assistance, as well as “the thousands who joined us in praying for a miracle. But most of all, we are grateful to God for answering those prayers.”

Fox News had more:

The congresswoman explained on her official website as well as on her social media pages that many doctors were pessimistic about the baby’s chances of making it to term, and were fairly certain that if she survived through birth, she would live only moments. Herrera Beutler is against abortion and said she refused to consider it as an option.

“With hearts full of hope, we put our trust in the Lord and continued to pray for a miracle,” she wrote on her congressional site.

The announcement by the congresswoman was, essentially, a testimony about holding out hope and defying the odds.

Abigail has no kidneys and had no amniotic fluid in the womb. During the pregnancy, doctors injected saline solution into the womb in the place of amniotic fluid.

At birth, Abigail had fully developed lungs and she is breathing on her own, suggesting that the relatively uncommon treatment had worked. Abigail still requires ongoing dialysis and will eventually need a kidney transplant.

Herrera Beutler and her husband said they were thankful for the doctors and nurses who were not willing to accept the fatal diagnosis.

“We are grateful to the thousands who joined us in praying for a miracle. But most of all, we are grateful to God for hearing those prayers,” Herrera Beutler and her husband said in a joint statement.  “As far as every doctor we’ve spoken with knows, Abigail is the first baby with bilateral renal agenesis to breathe sustainably on her own.”

Dr. Louis Halamek, a neonatologist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in California, said they are cautiously optimistic about the future of the baby, born after a 28-week pregnancy.

“Despite Abigail’s prematurity, small size and life-threatening disease, she is doing well,” Halamek said.

Herrera Beutler, 34, is in her second term in Congress, representing the 3rd district covering the southwest portion of Washington state. The National Journal included her on its list of “The Top 25 Most Influential Washington Women Under 35.”

I think that a lot of Democrats are going to be surprised with this story, because they think that protecting the unborn is something that Republicans want to impose on others, but won’t do themselves. After all, Democrats are always passing taxes and regulations from others – but they don’t think that any of that applies to them. Al Gore rants on and on about global warming, but he still spends $30,000 a year in utility bills. So imagine how surprised the Democrats are to see that Republicans aren’t frauds and hypocrites. Yes, we actually believe in protecting the unborn even if it means that we will be less “happy” and less “fulfilled”. That’s what being pro-life means – welcoming children into the world and supplying for their needs, even if it requires us to make sacrifices.

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Wal-Mart cancels plans to build three stores after D.C. leftists raise minimum wage 50%

From Fox Business, a story that shows how completely clueless left-wing politicians are about economics.

Excerpt:

Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) no longer plans to build three stores in the nation’s capitol, after the city’s council voted to force large retailers to pay starting wages that are 50% higher than the minimum wage there.

The world’s largest retailer also said it will consider its options related to three other Washington, D.C., stores that are still under construction.

The bill, called the Large Retailer Accountability Act of 2013, was approved by an 8-to-5 vote, even though Walmart had warned that the company would leave the district.

“Nothing has changed from our perspective: we will not pursue Skyland, Capitol Gateway, and New York Avenue and will start to review the financial and legal implications on the three stores already under construction,” Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo said, referring to the locations of the planned stores.

“This was a difficult decision for us—and unfortunate news for most D.C. residents—but the Council has forced our hand.”

The district’s new law requires retailers with sales of more than $1 billion and with stores of at least 75,000 square feet to pay their workers starting salaries of at least $12.50 an hour, compared to the minimum wage of $8.25.

Unionized businesses are exempt from the measure. Large stores that already have a presence in D.C., including Target (TGT) and Macy’s (M), have four years to comply.

Now for most of my readers who understand economics, what happened here is going to be pretty obvious. But sometimes people get specialized in other areas and neglect the study of economics. The danger then is that they will be moved to support policies that appeal to their hearts. But it’s very important to understand that policies that sound good, like raising wages, often have unexpected negative results.

Here is George Mason University economics professor Walter Williams to explain the problem with increasing the minimum wage, starting with the basics of economics.

Excerpt:

Are people responsive to changes in price? For example, if the price of cars rose by 25 percent, would people purchase as many cars? Supposing housing prices rose by 25 percent, what would happen to sales? Those are big-ticket items, but what about smaller-priced items? If a supermarket raised its prices by 25 percent, would people purchase as much? It’s not rocket science to conclude that when prices rise, people adjust their behavior by purchasing less.

It’s almost childish to do so, but I’m going to ask questions about 25 percent price changes in the other way. What responses would people have if the price of cars or housing fell by 25 percent? What would happen to supermarket sales if prices fell by 25 percent? Again, it doesn’t require deep thinking to guess that people would purchase more.

This behavior in economics is known as the first fundamental law of demand. It holds that the higher the price of something the less people will take and that the lower the price the more people will take. There are no known exceptions to the law of demand. Any economist who could prove a real-world exception would probably be a candidate for the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and other honors.

[...]University of California, Irvine economist David Neumark has examined more than 100 major academic studies on the minimum wage. [...]About 85 percent of the studies “find a negative employment effect on low-skilled workers.” A 1976 American Economic Association survey found that 90 percent of its members agreed that increasing the minimum wage raises unemployment among young and unskilled workers. A 1990 survey found that 80 percent of economists agreed with the statement that increases in the minimum wage cause unemployment among the youth and low-skilled. If you’re looking for a consensus in most fields of study, examine the introductory and intermediate college textbooks in the field. Economics textbooks that mention the minimum wage say that it increases unemployment for the least skilled worker.

When considering what economic policies to adopt, it is not enough to do what feels good. Liberals and conservatives agree that it is good to help the poor. Liberals think that higher minimum wage rates help the poor, and conservatives think that lower minimum wage rates help the poor. This is not a topic that is up for debate, though, because economists across the idological spectrum agree on this one – and for the reasons outlined above and illustrated in the Wal-Mart case.

Take a look at this post from moderate Harvard University economist Greg Mankiw.

He writes:

I believe it is better to introduce students to economics with topics about which there is more of a professional consensus. In chapter two of the book, I include a table of propositions to which most economists subscribe, based on various polls of the profession. Here is the list, together with the percentage of economists who agree:

    1. A ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available. (93%)
    2. Tariffs and import quotas usually reduce general economic welfare. (93%)
    3. Flexible and floating exchange rates offer an effective international monetary arrangement. (90%)
    4. Fiscal policy (e.g., tax cut and/or government expenditure increase) has a significant stimulative impact on a less than fully employed economy. (90%)
    5. The United States should not restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries. (90%)
    6. The United States should eliminate agricultural subsidies. (85%)
    7. Local and state governments should eliminate subsidies to professional sports franchises. (85%)
    8. If the federal budget is to be balanced, it should be done over the business cycle rather than yearly. (85%)
    9. The gap between Social Security funds and expenditures will become unsustainably large within the next fifty years if current policies remain unchanged. (85%)
    10. Cash payments increase the welfare of recipients to a greater degree than do transfers-in-kind of equal cash value. (84%)
    11. A large federal budget deficit has an adverse effect on the economy. (83%)
    12. A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers. (79%)
    13. The government should restructure the welfare system along the lines of a “negative income tax.” (79%)
    14. Effluent taxes and marketable pollution permits represent a better approach to pollution control than imposition of pollution ceilings. (78%)

When you raise the price of anything – including labor – fewer people will buy it. Wal-Mart will still spend the money on new stores and new employees, just not in Washington, D.C. – not with those laws. Notice that number one on his list is the case of rent control, where government good-intentioners try to hold the price of rent down. What happens next? Well, it the price goes down then everyone wants to buy more of whatever just went on sale. But the people providing what just went on sale stop making it because they can’t make a profit. The unexpected consequence is that there is a housing shortage. The quantity of housing decreases, and the quality of housing decreases. The quality decreases because demand is so high that property owners no longer have to maintain the properties, since demand has skyrocketed. Economics is something that everyone should study, so that we don’t just have good intentions, but also have good results.

 

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Census Bureau confirms DC schools spending $29,409 per pupil

Andrew J. Coulson of the Cato Institute explains how he got the Census Bureau to revise their numbers.

Excerpt: (links removed)

Four years ago, I wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post revealing that DC spent nearly $25,000 per pupil during the 2007-08 school year. I calculated this figure from the public budget documents of the District of Columbia, which I subsequently summarized and linked on this blog.

No education reporter followed up on my findings, and much lower per pupil figures continue to be reported to this day. My $25,000 figure was even greeted with skepticism by analysts at free market think tanks. One state education policy analyst wrote to say that my figure was “out of line with credible information,” and that I gave my critics “too much ammunition with this clearly questionable set of statistics.”

Indeed, the Census Bureau figures for DC’s total K-12 expenditures were substantially lower than mine. I made a note to track down the discrepancy, but other projects intervened. When I updated my calculation to use DC budget estimates for the 2008-09 school year, I found that District spending had risen to over $28,000 / pupil. The comparable number for that year reported by the Bureau of the Census was just $18,181 (which you get by dividing the total expenditure figure in Table 1 by the enrollment figure in Table 15).

So you can see why most folks were skeptical. Skeptical, but wrong.

Back in March of this year I asked my then research intern to contact the Census Bureau and ask where they got their total spending data. It turns out, they got them from a DCPS official. We presented evidence to the Bureau that that DCPS official had missed a few line items when completing the Census Bureau’s forms—to the tune of about $400 million. The Census Bureau agreed and is in the process of obtaining corrected data for the 2008-09 year. In the meantime, they made sure to ask DC officials to include all relevant items when filling out their forms for the 2009-10 school year. The result: Census Bureau data now show DC spent a total of $29,409 per pupil (obtained by dividing total expenditures in Table 1 by enrollment in Table 15). This is just a bit higher than my calculation for the preceding year.

Kudos to the Census Bureau for taking the initiative and getting DC to accurately report its public school expenditures. Now that education reporters can simply open a Census Bureau .pdf file and divide one number by another, I wonder if any will report what DC really spends per pupil? I suspect that they still will not, continuing to mislead the general public, but I would be delighted to be proven wrong.

Oh, and, BTW, this spending figure is about triple what the DC voucher program spends per pupil—and the voucher students have a much higher graduation rate and perform as well or better academically.

He’s talking about the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship voucher program which Obama dismantled and defunded in order to appease the teacher unions.

According to U.S. News, D.C. students are underperforming:

South Dakota, Nebraska, and Washington, D.C. performed the worst, with some of the worst student test scores and college readiness indexes in the nation.

Keep in mind that D.C. votes 92.5% to 6.5% for Obama in the 2008 election. This is where leftism in education comes from.

We ought to care about this, because the students in Washington D.C. are some of the poorest students in the nation – and they are often minority students. What sort of opportunity to succeed are we giving these children when we allow leftists like Obama to destroy voucher programs that are their only hope?

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Senator Marco Rubio’s speech at the conservative CPAC 2012 conference

If I had to choose one Republican who gives great speeches on what it means to be a conservative, I would pick Marco Rubio. (25 minutes)

Here’s an article from Human Events about the speech, for those who can’t watch it or listen to it.

Excerpt:

Rubio ranked the strength of the American people alongside the importance of economic and military strength, for it is our people – not our government – who have made us great.  He sees critical institutions of society, which contribute to the strength of citizens and families, under assault by the Obama Administration.  “We have a President who, just a few days ago, issued a mandate ordering religious institutions to follow his ideals… telling religious-based organizations that they must, by mandate of the federal government, pay for things that religion teaches is wrong.  You may not agree with that religion’s teachings, but that’s not the point.  The point is that the First Amendment still applies.  Religious freedom still exists.”

He confessed he isn’t sure what the foreign constitutions Justice Ginsburg admires might have to say on the matter, but he knows what the United States Constitution says: “The federal government does not have the power to force religious organizations to pay for things that organization thinks is wrong!”

On the scale of history, only a “moment” has passed since world wars were fought against totalitarian evil.  What followed could hardly be described as “world peace,” and cleaning the blood from the edge of the statist hammer has not softened its essential nature.  “Today millions of people around the world are part of the middle class because of the rise of democracy and free enterprise.  Did that happen on its own?  Is that the natural state of man?”  Rubio suggested a study of humanity’s long history beneath the boots of oppressors answers that question.

Democracy and free enterprise spread, not because they are humanity’s default condition, but because “the most powerful nation in the world believed in these things, fought for these things, spoke out for these things… and most importantly, was an example of these things.”  The power of the American example transcends military and political force, because “all around the world, there are people who know there is someone just like them, living here, doing things they cannot.”

“What happens if we diminish, because we can no longer afford to be the leader of the free world?” Rubio asked.  “What happens if we diminish because our leaders decide they don’twant to be the leaders of the free world anymore?  What happens if we retreat?  What happens is that we’ll leave a space, and that space will be filled by someone else.”  The likely candidates for our successor as global hyperpower are totalitarian states like Russia and China… whose measure Rubio took by noting that they’ve vetoed United Nations efforts to rein in Syria’s dictator, Bashar Assad, because they reserve the right to use such brutal tactics against their own people.

Rubio understands that the clash of civilizations cannot be won from an easy chair, or a death bed.  “The greatest thing we can do for the people of the world is be America,” he concluded.  “That’s what’s at stake here.  That’s what November will be about.”

It would be a shame if all the people who flee to America, to escape from socialist decay and totalitarian repression, found the very things they fled awaiting them on our shores.  It pays to take a moment and see our exceptional nation through the eyes of those tired, poor, huddled masses, as Marco Rubio has done.

You can listen to an MP3 of the speech here. (12 Mb)

He’s only 40 years old. We have a deep, deep bullpen.

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