Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Do firearm-control laws make you safer?

A medical journal gives the answer "yes" to that.

One of the besetting problems with science is that academics often don't keep up with previous research on their subject. Example here.  They seem to think that no-one before them could have had such brilliant ideas as theirs.  So they do not check that.  A case in point has just emerged.  It is an article in a prestigious American medical journal under the title: "Interstate Association of State Firearm Laws With Suicide and Homicide", authored by a Robert Steinbrook, MD.

Dr Steinbrook probably knows a lot about colds and flu but he appears to know very little about scientific research.  In particular he seems to know nothing about bibliographical  research.  His article mirrors closely  a 2016 article under the heading: "Firearm legislation and firearm mortality in the USA: a cross-sectional, state-level study" -- by Kalesan et al -- also published in a prestigious medical jourtnal. 

Because of his failure to do comprehensive background research, he has fallen into the trap that background research is designed to prevent:  He has learnt nothing from the mistakes in the previous study.  He has repeated its mistakes.  And the mistakes are grievous -- as I pointed out in 2016. A failure of basic scientific precautions has rendered both studies a nullity.  They prove nothing. They are at best propaganda.

It rather bemuses me that a humble retired psychologist such as I has to point out basic howlers in prestigious medical journals.


Two Judges in Virginia rebuke Special Counsel Mueller

As bad weeks go, last week was a pretty bad week for Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Two different judges dealt blows to the Special Counsel while breathing life into the Constitution. From the beginning it was obvious the Special Counsel was not interested in Russian collusion but was more interested in getting President Trump. Thanks to a pair of federal judges the American people are finally seeing what the Special Counsel is really up to.

In a blistering exchange with Mueller cronies, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, overseeing Mueller’s case against one-time Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, questioned why the Special Counsel was handling a case that was years old and had nothing to do with President Donald Trump or the election. The judge stated, “You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud. … What you really care about is what information Mr. Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment.”

The judge is correct. From the beginning, it has become increasingly clear, the investigation has absolutely nothing to do with finding a link between Russia and President Trump, but everything to do with ending the Trump presidency. The Special Counsel handed over the case involving Mr. Cohen to federal authorities in New York but did not do so in this case, even though Manafort is being charged with crimes that are alleged to have happened years before becoming part of the Trump campaign.

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning agreed with the judge stating, “Everyone outside the Department of Justice seems to be able to see that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s only objective is to create grounds for the Democrats to impeach the president. That isn’t his job; his job is to investigate Russian collusion if there was Russian collusion in the election. The Manafort case clearly demonstrates the special counsel is well beyond his legal mandate, and Judge Ellis should throw the charges out immediately on this basis.”

Perhaps the most critical issue to come out of the hearing, was the judge ordering the Special counsel to turn over the scope memo to the court. The scope memo was written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and laid out the parameters of the Special Counsel’s investigative powers. The DOJ has been guarding this document closely, refusing Congressional subpoenas to turn it over. If the Special Counsel and DOJ have nothing to hide and are doing everything legally, why are they refusing to hand over the document?

While Judge Ellis was slamming the Mueller investigation for targeting the President, another judge dealt a potential lethal legal blow to the case against 13 Russians and three companies indicted earlier this year. Federal District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected Mueller’s motion to delay the first hearing after lawyers showed up to defend two of the companies last month when it was expected no one would show up. The lawyers made multiple requests for information, seemingly catching the Special Counsel off guard.

It is believed the requests were a plan “to force Mueller’s team to turn over relevant evidence to the Russian firm and perhaps even to bait prosecutors into an embarrassing dismissal in order to avoid disclosing sensitive information,” according to Politico’s Josh Gerstein, citing legal experts.  Mueller’s team must now show up on Wednesday. If the team does not turn over all exculpatory Brady material the defendants are entitled to, it risks a dismissal and an extremely embarrassing episode for Mueller and Deputy AG Rosenstein.

Something else we also learned late last week, is that Mueller may have lied to the court. For almost a year, there have been multiple reports on the contacts between Manafort and Russian agents or people connected to Russian agents. On March 28, it was further reported by Newsweek, Mueller told the court Gates knew he and Manafort were dealing with ex-Russian intelligence agents in sentencing documents for Alex van der Zwaan. Manafort’s lawyers challenged the allegation that their client knew anything and asked the Special Counsel to produce the evidence Manafort had contact with Russian intelligence officials.

The government is allowed to deny the request for the Brady material on national security grounds, but the government is not allowed to deny the evidence exists. This is exactly what the Mueller team did. Manafort’s legal team filed papers stating, “Despite multiple discovery and Brady requests in this regard, the Special Counsel has not produced any materials to the defense – no tapes, notes, transcripts or any other material evidencing surveillance or intercepts of communications between Mr. Manafort and Russian intelligence officials, Russian government officials (or any other foreign officials). The Office of Special Counsel has advised that there are no materials responsive to Mr. Manafort’s requests.”

Two questions immediately come to mind, did Mueller lie to the court, and how can there be collusion if there is no evidence of contact? If Robert Mueller can go after Trump officials on specious charges of lying to the FBI, then Mueller’s lies to the federal court should be treated harshly. Apparently, Mr. Mueller lives in a glass house and should have known better than to throw the first three stones.

We are finally seeing the true nature of the Special Counsel. His sole objective is to be the most expensive and extensive opposition research project in history. He was created to give Congress an excuse to impeach the President, and if he couldn’t find it, make it up. Thanks to the Judicial Branch, the people can finally see who is pulling the coup strings.



President Trump’s historic jobs achievement

While the media obsess over the latest palace intrigue, President Trump is quietly shaping up to be one of the best economic presidents in modern U.S. history.

Under his watch, the unemployment rate hit 3.9 percent in April, the lowest level this century. At this rate, essentially every American who wants a job could find one. Keep in mind, the unemployment rate was more than double this level as recently as President Obama's second term in office.

Unemployment has dipped below 4 percent only a few times in U.S. history. Yet the underlying figures may be even more remarkable. Unemployment among blacks and Latinos fell to 6.6 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively, their lowest levels in recorded history — and half the rates of five years ago.

This historically low unemployment isn’t part of a natural pattern — like the weather — as some left-wing pundits imply. It’s a result of the pro-business public policies created and implemented by President Trump and Republicans in Congress.

Exhibit A is the historic tax cuts passed late last year. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act delivered the biggest tax relief for small businesses in American history, reduced the tax burden on the middle class, and brought the corporate rate in line with international standards.

Taken together, the tax cuts are putting more money in Americans’ paychecks and on companies’ balance sheets. This leads to more spending, more investment and more jobs. It also means employers will pay higher wages, which are growing at their fastest pace in a decade.

No wonder small business optimism is at an all-time high. According to a national poll of small businesses by the organization that I lead, the Job Creators Network, respondents support the Republican tax cuts by a margin of 10-to-1.

As a result of this tax cut stimulus, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently raised its economic growth estimate to 3.3 percent for this year. This is more than double the growth rate of the last year of the Obama administration; it’s the type of growth that ordinary Americans can actually notice in their day-to-day lives.

Prominent left-wing economists scoffed when President Trump predicted this level of growth a couple of years ago. You’d have to believe in “tooth fairies  and ludicrous supply-side economics” to believe in his 3 percent growth prediction, is how Obama's former chief economic adviser, Larry Summers, put it.

While Americans should expect this labor market and economic vibrancy as their birthright, bad public policies such as over-taxation and over-regulation threaten it. Still, leading Democrats have promised to raise taxes and increase regulations if they retake control of Congress this fall.

This is the wedge issue that Republicans must take to voters during this election season. Pocketbook issues beat identity politics and divisive social issues every time. To paraphrase the James Carville cliche: Campaign on the economy and tax cuts, stupid.

Of course, labor market challenges remain. Despite recent improvements, the labor force participation rate remains stubbornly low at 62.8 percent. Meanwhile, there are 6.3 million unfilled jobs in the country — the largest in history. Roughly half of these pay $50,000 or more, according to pay data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Closing this gap calls for a “Fight for 50,” as in a fight for $50,000 jobs. With Republican-led skills training and occupational licensing deregulation, this too can be achieved. 

President Ronald Reagan famously said, “The best possible social program is a job.” Based on this criteria, President Trump is shaping up to be more than just one of the greatest economic presidents in modern history. Just don’t expect these historic achievements to interrupt programming of the Stormy Daniels soap opera that dominates today’s mainstream media.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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