July 30, 2014
Detroit is Virtually Crime Free

pol102:

Via kohenari:

Good news!

This person explains to me that rising gun ownership is actually making Detroit, my hometown, much safer:

Just look at Detroit recently gun ownership has gone up and crime has gone down. Not just a theory when there is evidence people

He’s right, you know. The violent crime rate in Detroit declined last year. And I guess it’s possible that gun ownership was responsible. Or perhaps there are a whole host of variables to consider, including the dramatic population decline.

But let’s get a wee bit of perspective on the situation in Detroit, shall we?

Make no mistake: Detroit is still a very dangerous place. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s crime database reports Detroit had 386 murders last year, up from 344 in 2011 and essentially unchanged from 2000 – when the city had 200,000 more residents. The steady outflow of residents has driven Detroit’s murder rate up to 54.6 per 100,000, more than 10 times the national average and the highest in the country among large cities. Equally troubled Stockton, Calif., fifth on this year’s Most Dangerous list, has less than half the murder rate of Detroit….

The violent crime rate for the Detroit MSA [metropolitan statistical area] is 574 per 100,000 population, 48% higher than the national average — and virtually all attributable to the area’s much more dangerous urban core. Only a handful of murders in the Detroit MSA were reported outside of Detroit itself.

Maybe Detroit just needs even more guns?

But even if this is true in Detroit, it does not “prove” that more guns equals less crime. Arguing from an anecdote (N=1) is very problematic, precisely because other factors could be the cause of the decline in crime. 

In order to have confidence that “more guns equals less crime,” we would have to see one of two (or both) kinds of studies: 

  • Studies of Detroit (or some other area) over a long period of time to see if the rate of gun ownership correlates with the crime rate (that is, whether the  two rates go up/down together). This would be “time-series” data. 
  • Studies of the relationship between crime and gun ownership for a large number of cases. This would be “cross-sectional” data.

You could also combine both types of studies (large number of cases over a long period of time). This would be “panel” data.

Politicalprof: WARNING! WARNING! Social science in progress.

July 29, 2014
"It is easier to stay out than get out."

— Mark Twain

July 29, 2014

foundingfatherquotes:

The States were not “Sovereigns” in the sense contended for by some. They did not possess the peculiar features of Sovereignty, they could not make war, nor peace, nor alliances nor treaties. Considering them as political Beings, they were dumb, for they could not speak to any foreign Sovereign whatever. They were deaf, for they could not hear any propositions from such Sovereign. They had not even the organs or faculties of defence or offence, for they could not of themselves raise troops, or equip vessels, for war. On the other side, if the Union of the States comprizes the idea of a confederation, it comprizes that also of consolidation. A Union of the States is a Union of the men composing them, from whence a national character results to the whole. Congress can act alone without the States - they can act & their acts will be binding against the Instructions of the States. If they declare war: war is de jure declared - captures made in pursuance of it are lawful - No acts of the States can vary the situation, or prevent the judicial consequences. If the States therefore retained some portion of their sovereignty, they had certainly divested themselves of essential portions of it.

Rufus King, as recorded in James Madison notes of the Constitutional Convention, June 19, 1787

Politicalprof: But hey? What would they know? They just wrote the durn thing.

July 28, 2014
"Science is true whether or not you believe it, but religion is true whether or not it’s true."

— The Tweet of God

July 28, 2014
4th Circuit overturns Virginia's gay marriage ban

The 4th Circuit is generally seen as the most conservative in the US. A new era has clearly begun.

Ht: EE

July 28, 2014
Ten years ago today, this guy gave the Keynote Address at the Democratic Party Convention that put John Kerry’s name into nomination as President.
There was, he explained, no “liberal” America and no “conservative” America; there was “only the United States of America.”
Four years later, he was elected President of the United States. My guess is he has rethought the “red” and “blue” claim more than once since. But it was a hell of a line. Watch it here: http://youtu.be/eWynt87PaJ0?t=13m
ht: Chris Cillizza, Washington Post

Ten years ago today, this guy gave the Keynote Address at the Democratic Party Convention that put John Kerry’s name into nomination as President.

There was, he explained, no “liberal” America and no “conservative” America; there was “only the United States of America.”

Four years later, he was elected President of the United States. My guess is he has rethought the “red” and “blue” claim more than once since. But it was a hell of a line. Watch it here: http://youtu.be/eWynt87PaJ0?t=13m

ht: Chris Cillizza, Washington Post

July 26, 2014
Today, in you have to be kidding ...

This guy claims to use science to prove evolution can’t be true. Three claims: evolution has never been observed (false), science requires observation (false), and the laws of thermodynamics prove order cannot emerge from chaos (false). But he’s VERY CONVINCED HE’s GOT IT ALL FIGURED OUT. Which counts for something I guess.

July 25, 2014
"If one speaks to most Israelis or Palestinians and dare to suggest that they are victimizers, they will be outraged. “How dare you say I am a victimizer? I am the victim!” We fail to realize that we can be a victim and a victimizer at the same time. Our victimhood and the fact that justice is on our side do not give us permission to ignore moral red lines."

Rabbi Arik Ascherman, “When Justice Blinds,” The Times of Israel

This is worth reading.

ht: SD

July 25, 2014

kohenari said: While I agree that the blockade is ridiculous and terrible, why do you think that opening up all the crossings would result in less terrorism rather than more, given Hamas' control of Gaza and its militant wing's stated purpose of liberating all of Palestine?

First, I do not in any way think Hamas presents an existential threat to the State of Israel. The power gap is too large. Not US v al Qaeda large, but still enormous. (Note: some of this is borrowed from a long discussion I’ve been having on Facebook.)

Second, like it or not, the people of Gaza think of Hamas as the legitimate government for their territory. Hamas, after all, is more than a military organization: it’s social support, schools, hospitals … a full service government in the place of a state (money provided courtesy of Iran and Qatar, of course). Gazans know this: they see no other prospects — it’s Hamas, starvation, or Israeli bombs. They choose what most would choose in such a circumstance. As history also shows. If you change that sense of legitimacy, however, then there is a prospect for change. Until then, all bombing does is solidify support. (WWII research for example shows that the British, the Russians AND the Germans all supported the war as the bombing got worse.)

You cannot win this war against a government that is perceived as legitimate by its people short of something close to genocide, which of course none but the most extreme of anyone anywhere wants. You certainly cannot win it with heavy weapons, which only reinforce support for the regime.

Thus, third, just in Gaza I’d throw the border open and invite every Palestinian who wants a job to come work (like before the first intifada). That alone would strip Hamas of much of its power since it uses its Iranian and Qatari money to provide food and education and shelter and healthcare to the Gaza population that otherwise faces 60%+ unemployment. I’d open the never-allowed open Gaza airport and port. I’d invite Arab forces in from Egypt and Jordan to play police roles. I’d go after the politics on which Hamas rests not the military annoyance that are its horrible but virtually ineffective rocket attacks.

That seems to me the beginning of a plan that might dent an otherwise perfect death spiral.

Are there risks with such a strategy? Sure. How’s the old one working? Is Hamas (or Hezbollah in southern Lebanon) stronger or weaker due to Israeli policy over the last 20+ years?

It’s time for something else.

July 24, 2014

thepoliticalbreakdown said: I've been writing that I don't understand why Israel isn't following elementary counterinsurgency as espoused by David Kilcullen ("The Accidental Guerilla") and General Petraeus and proven in Iraq. The key: get the people on your side with minimum force and maximum exposure and trust-building. I recognize it's a more complicated dynamic with Israel/Palestine, yet Israel is literally doing the exact opposite. Creating more insurgents through heavy force. What do you think?

If someone is doing the exact opposite of the only strategy that is known to work, what is the most reasonable conclusion to draw? … that they don’t want to achieve that which they claim to want to achieve?