Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Climate Change

  • Matt Ridley on How Fossil Fuels are Greening the Planet

    Matt Ridley, author of The Red Queen, Genome, The Rational Optimist and other books, dropped by Reason's studio in Los Angeles to talk about a curious global trend that is just starting to receive attention. Over the past three decades, our planet has gotten greener!

  • "There is no ambiguity" on climate change, U.N. concludes

    Climate change is happening, it's almost entirely man's fault and limiting its impacts may require reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero this century, the U.N.'s panel on climate science said Sunday.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Assault on "Broken Windows" Policing

WSJ -- William Bratton and George Kelling -- The Assault on ‘Broken Windows’ Policing

Critics say that maintaining order in public spaces is discriminatory and has no effect on serious crime. The evidence says otherwise.

Critics have a variety of arguments against the policy …. None of these criticisms stands up.

  • Discrimination? … The majority of New Yorkers, including minorities, approve of police addressing disorderly illegal behavior, such as public drinking and drug use, fights, public urination and other acts considered to be minor offenses. We have attended countless meetings with citizen groups in high-crime areas, and almost without exception disorderly behavior and conditions are central concerns.
  • No effect on serious crime? … In 1993 New York’s murder rate was 26.5 per 100,000 people. Since 1994, when Broken Windows policing was put into practice citywide, crime has fallen further, faster and for longer than anywhere else in the country. Today the largest and densest city in the U.S. has a lower murder rate, at four per 100,000, than the nation’s 4.5 per 100,000. In 1993 New York accounted for about 7.9% of U.S. homicides; last year the city’s share was 2.4%.
  • Overincarceration? … Another charge against Broken Windows is that it results in too many poor and minority youths being jailed or imprisoned. In reality, felony arrests in New York are down by about 60,000 a year from 1990 levels.
  • Middle-class morality? … a survey of 13,000 residents of 40 neighborhoods in six large cities …. found a broad consensus—regardless of race, ethnicity or class—about what constituted disorderly conditions and behavior. Topping the list were drunken and loitering youth, street harassment and panhandling, street prostitution, abandoned houses, graffiti, and other behaviors and conditions such as drug dealing, excessive noise and reckless driving. People know what disorderly behavior and conditions are, and they want something done about them.

Prior to the development of “broken windows” policing, a “SoHo” (an area of London) theory of policing was common in practice. That is the idea that there would always be a criminal element and in larger cities it would be easier just to localize this and contain it by lowering standards in a zone or area of the city but enforce all of the environmental codes and laws in the rest of the city. The area of the city where the standards were lowered, however, was also usually racially identifiable. Perhaps the worst thing that can be done to a community is to lower the standards. Children pay more attention to what you do than what you say and you are lowering the expectations for them as well.

Two Views on Congress and the Obama Presidency Going Forward.

  • WSJ -- Kin Strassel -- A GOP Strategy Begins to Emerge.

    Congressional leaders will use coalitions to achieve small wins. Conservatives may not be satisfied.

  • NY TImes -- Obama Unbound

    Obama is not cowering or conceding. He’s been liberated by defeat, becoming the president that many of his supporters hoped he would be.

The Modern Regulatory State and Administrative Law

Cass Sunstein, Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School

Harvard Magazine in its current Jan/2015 issue has an article on Cass Sunstein, Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, which gives some insight into the intellectual background and political perspectives of the current trends in regulation and administrative law. Cass Sunstein and Barack Obama were both professors of law at the University of Chicago. Sunstein led the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2009 to 2012, which he described as “the cockpit of the regulatory state.” The full article can be found at The Legal Olympian.

To address the crisis of the Great Depression, the New Deal transformed the system of checks and balances by increasing the power of the president, reducing the clout of the federal judiciary, and increasing the size of the national bureaucracy so that its power rivaled that of Congress. The New Deal transformed the system of federalism by transferring power from the states to the federal government. It redefined individual rights, from “rights to be free from government intrusion” to “government protection against the multiple hazards of industrialized society.” The result was “a dramatic change in the fabric of the national government….”

To Sunstein, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1944 State of the Union Address “has a strong claim to being the greatest speech of the twentieth century.” FDR used it to propose a Second Bill of Rights, to redress what he described as the Constitution’s inadequacies. He recommended rights to “a useful and remunerative job”; for “every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies”; to “a decent home”; to “adequate medical care”; to “adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment”; and to “a good education.” They “spell security,” the president said: “For unless there is security here at home, there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”

One of the criticisms comes from a report for the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent federal agency with the mission of improving regulation. The report documented that reviews by Sunstein’s office of proposed federal rules “took longer in 2011 and 2012 because of concerns about the agencies issuing costly or controversial rules prior to the November 2012 election.”

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Global “Battle of Ideas”

Donald Rumsfeld, when he was Secretary of Defense, was asked how the United States was faring against the extremist ideology in the global “battle of ideas.” He said, “If I were grading, I would say that we probably deserve a D+ as a country.” That poor grade was primarily the result of his own policies and a cultural climate that led to the incidents at Abu Ghraib.

--- See also previous blog “Equality as an Affirmation of Our Common Humanity”

WSJ -- Peggy Noonan -- A Flawed Report’s Important Lesson

Americans regardless of party should agree torture is wrong.

“Torture is not like us. It’s not part of the American DNA. We think of ourselves as better than that because we’ve been better than that….We can’t use torture methods and still at the same time be the hope of the world.”
      -- Peggy Noonan
“The use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights.”
     -- Sen. John McCain

Most American's Best Days are Behind Them

WP -- Most American’s best days are behind them -- (See map)

“Median household income peaked at least 15 years ago in 81 percent of U.S. counties. That means that when incomes are adjusted for inflation, most middle class households are actually earning less money than they did years ago.”

Saturday, December 6, 2014

2016 Presidential Election

The Republicans will have to win Ohio and Florida to have any chance of winning.
The Democrats best chance of winning would be to secure and win Virginia.

Best demographic Republican ticket Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio / John Kasich.
Best demographic Democratic ticket Hillary Clinton / Tim Kaine or Mark Warner.

Angr/Wikimedia Commons

Map of red states and blue states in the U.S. based on presidential elections since 2000. Red: The Republican candidate carried the state in all four most recent presidential elections (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012). Pink: The Republican candidate carried the state in three of the four most recent elections. Purple=The Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate each carried the state in two of the four most recent elections. Light blue: The Democratic candidate carried the state in three of the four most recent elections. Dark blue=The Democratic candidate carried the state in all four most recent elections.

If the Republicans are able to hold all of the states that Mitt Romney won in 2010 they would need another 64 votes in the electoral college to win the next presidential election. It would be very difficult for them to do this without winning and adding Florida (29) and Ohio (18) which have a combined 47 electoral votes. This would still only amount to 253 and another 17 would be needed to reach the 270 electoral votes for election. This would require winning 17 votes from three swing states which are Virginia (13), Colorado (9), and Nevada (6) or possibly winning votes from states that have voted just somewhat more Democratic than Republican since 2000, which are New Mexico (5), Iowa(6), and New Hampshire (3). Do the math.

Even if the Republicans were to win Florida and Ohio, the Democrats would still have a very slight demographic advantage if they could win Virginia. Since the election is likely to depend upon these swing states the demographics would give either a center-right or center-left candidate a better chance of winning. Ohio has voted for the victor in every presidential election since 1960.