How to make money in these days: Sell short a company's stock then hire lobbyists to get the government

Sell short a company's stock then have "one chance at salvation: governmental interference." When businesses spend some much time and resources trying to use government to make money, there are other more productive efforts that they aren't doing.  From the Washington Post:
Nearly a year ago, the activist investor Bill Ackman made a huge bet: that investors, if informed that a $7 billion global company with a 30-year track record was a fraud, would run for the exits. 
The wager was a $1 billion short against Herbalife, a multilevel marketing operation that recruits distributors to sell weight-loss products. Last December, Ackman made the case to an investor conference that the company was actually a massive pyramid scheme, preying on "distributors" who pay to sign up before realizing that the product is too expensive to sell. Eventually, he implied, it would collapse under its own weight. 
The stock dropped about 38 percent in a week, but that wasn't enough for Ackman, who'd set a price target of zero. And then, something terrifying happened: The stock started rising again. Activist investor Carl Icahn took the other side of the bet by becoming the company's single biggest shareholder in January. . . . 
But really, he's got basically one chance at salvation: governmental interference
At first, that looked like a viable option; the Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation almost immediately after Ackman launched his crusade. But the regulator hasn't been heard from since, even as it shut down another pyramid scheme and issued an alert about what such schemes look like. So Ackman has brought the full court press to Washington, hiring lobbyists to counter Herbalife's own, and meeting with the enforcers to make his case. 
"There's reasons we're still short the stock. If we didn't think [regulatory authorities]would take action, we would've given up a long time ago," Ackman said in an interview in D.C, on Tuesday. "We've got an unbelievable amount of resources on this." . . . .


Yet another Solyndra: Failed "green" automaker Fisker means that $139 million loan won't be repaid

From Fox News:
Taxpayers are on the hook for a multi-million-dollar tab after a U.S. Department of Energy gamble on a green automaker went into the red. 
The Obama administration announced Friday it will lose $139 million on a loan to struggling electric car maker Fisker Automotive Inc. after selling part of the loan to a private investor that immediately took the company into bankruptcy. 
The transaction brings to an end another effort by the Obama administration to use public funds to stimulate green initiatives. Awarded a $529 million loan guarantee by the administration in 2009 to produce the Karma, a $103,000 luxury hybrid car, Fisker failed to meet DOE benchmarks, causing it to lose its loan guarantee two years later. The company drew down on $192 million before its federal funding was pulled, and the Obama administration seized $21 million from the company in April to help repay taxpayers. . . . .


Americans lose German government cell phone business because NSA spying

Apple's iPhone has been the phone of choice for German government officials, but to avoid the US government's NSA, the iPhone has been dropped.  From The Local in Germany:
“Our conversations and communication structure have to be safer,” the government report said, following news at the end of October that Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone was being tapped by US intelligence agencies, and that both the UK and US embassies in Berlin allegedly had listing posts on the roof of their buildings.   
Finer details were drawn up by the Bonn federal office for information security (BSI). It has said that discussing official matters over the phone should only be done so on one that is BSI-approved.
The software is not iPhone-compatible, so Apple products will start disappearing from the German parliament. . . .



Appearance on Larry Kudlow's CNBC to discuss the "Nuclear Option"

Appearance on Mike Huckabee's radio show to discuss the "nuclear option" and "Dumbing Down the Courts"

My appearance on Mike Huckabee's radio show to discuss the "nuclear option" is available here.

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Man with concealed handgun permit stops "Point-em-out, Knock-em-out" attack

There has been a vicious new "game."  People have been killed from these attacks in Syracuse, St. Louis, and New Jersey.  Fortunately, in Michigan, a victim was able to defend himself.  From Lansing Michigan:
The victim was attacked by 17-year-old Marvell Weaver. But Weaver did more than try to knock his victim out, he tried to do it with a taser. Luckily for the victim, the taser didn't work and he was able to protect himself with his concealed-carry .40 caliber pistol. 
"He shoved something into my side. I wasn't sure what it was. It had some force to it. I wasn't sure if it was a knife or a gun," said the victim. 
Weaver was shot twice, in the leg and an inch away from his spine. He's been sentenced to a year in jail for the attack, but he admits he's getting off easy. 
"It was just a lesson learned. I wish I hadn't played the game at all," said Weaver.
But Weaver say's this wasn't the first time he'd played it. Before he was caught, he and his friends had attacked random people on several occasions. 
"Not many, six or seven. It wouldn't be an every day game, just a certain game to be played on certain days. You don't even try to rob them or anything. That's the game," said Weaver. . . .

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Doctors are learning about how Obamacare will set their pay scales, another broken Obama promise

So much for Obama's promise if you like your doctor, you can keep him.  Are we also going to see a lot fewer doctors soon?  From McClatchy:
Many doctors are disturbed that they’ll be paid less – often a lot less – to care for the millions of patients who are projected to buy coverage through the health law’s new insurance marketplaces. 
Some have complained to medical associations – including those in Texas, California, Georgia, Connecticut and New York – saying the discounted rates could lead to a two-tiered system in which fewer doctors participate, perhaps making it harder for consumers to get the care they need. . . . 
People “may experience wait times to get in, but that is not unique to people in exchange plans,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University, . . . 
People “may experience wait times to get in, but that is not unique to people in exchange plans,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University, . . . 
A survey by the Medical Society of the State of New York found that 40 percent of more than 400 physicians who had responded so far said they’d chosen not to participate in a health insurer’s exchange plan, and one-third said they did not know whether they were participating or not. . . .

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/11/20/209165/doctors-are-concerned-about-pay.html#storylink=cpy 

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Democrat congressional staff shocked that they couldn't foresee increases in their health insurance premiums

Democrat congressional staff are "shocked" by how much Obamacare is increasing their insurance premiums?  Aren't these the very people who oversaw the writing and evaluation of Obamacare?  But if these staff can't even come close to foreseeing the implications for their own insurance, how much do they really understand health insurance?

Politicians seem to think if they just pass a law they can just mandate what they want and ignore the laws of economics.

From Politico:
Veteran House Democratic aides are sick over the insurance prices they’ll pay under Obamacare, and they’re scrambling to find a cure. 
“In a shock to the system, the older staff in my office (folks over 59) have now found out their personal health insurance costs (even with the government contribution) have gone up 3-4 times what they were paying before,” Minh Ta, chief of staff to Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), wrote to fellow Democratic chiefs of staff in an email message obtained by POLITICO. “Simply unacceptable.” 
In the email, Ta noted that older congressional staffs may leave their jobs because of the change to their health insurance. . . .


Michael Bloomberg wants people to talk about gun control at Thanksgiving dinner and tell their family incorrect claims

UPDATE: I have rewritten this post a little after my first post.

How many errors can Mayor Bloomberg introduce into Thanksgiving dinner conversations?  Apparently a lot.  
UPDATE: Media Matters has attempted to defend Bloomberg's claims, though they have done so in two ways.
1) Saying that "the National Rifle Association has not provided data to contradict the [40%] figure," but I do provide an extensive discussion on that below. 2) A personal attack by referencing their old post "Who Is Gun Advocate John Lott?" without acknowledging that I have posted a response to it available here.
-- That 40% of guns are transferred without a background check?  That they have stopped "2 million" prohibited people from getting guns?  See the errors with the claims here.  The main point about the 40% claim is that the original 36% number was based on all transfers, but the survey only showed that 14% of sales were done without background checks and that there were significant biases even there.
-- Reasonable limits? Well, Bloomberg thought that DC's handgun ban was a reasonable regulation.  If you want to see what Bloomberg believes are sensible gun restrictions in New York City, watch this report from last week by John Stossel.
What about the relationship between gun ownership and murders?  See a response here.
-- As to the claim that they just want to stop felons from getting guns, that is obviously not true.  Just look again at Stossel's piece.  $430 fee?  Making sure that you know the difference between all sorts of bizarre and rare knives?  Making sure that you have a good reason for owning a gun?
-- Finally, there is the amusing attack on the Washington Post "because it relied on the statistical analysis of gun researcher John Lott . . . ."

That it is necessary for Media Matters to attack the Washington Post for talking to me instead of just focusing on the facts might be related to how weak their factual claims are.



New York Times flip-flops on "Nuclear Option," Against it when Republicans are in charge, for it when Democrats run things

NYT 2004: "[The filibuster] is all part of the Senate’s time-honored deliberative role and of its protection of minority rights, which Republican leaders would now desecrate in overreaching from their majority perch."

NYT 2013 (today): "a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees... That means a return to the democratic process of giving nominees an up-or-down vote."

The claim that things are so much worse now is simply false.  The bottom line is the confirmation rate and Obama has a much higher confirmation rate for Circuit or District court nominees that other recent presidents.

Thanks to Maxim for these quotes.


Senate Democrats point to number of filibusters, but the real key is confirmation rates and Obama was doing much better than Bush

The figure is from the NY Times (click figure to make it larger).  As I noted in my op-ed in today's New York Post:
Nor do the confirmation rates bare out Obama’s concerns. Of all his circuit court nominations during his first term, the vast majority, 85 percent, have now been confirmed. Bush got only 72 percent of his nominees confirmed. In fact, a couple of the openings on the DC Circuit court are only available because Democrats refused to confirm Bush’s nominees. . . .
Indeed, my book "Dumbing Down the Courts" shows that you have to go back to the Reagan administration to find an administration with as high a confirmation rate for Circuit court nominees as Obama.

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Yet another rule making sure that poor people won't be able to defend themselves

New Jersey has a law mandating that once technology is available to prevent a gun from being used by an unauthorized person, only that type of handgun may be sold in the state.   Of course, police are exempt from this requirement because of reliability concerns.  But there is also a cost issue.  From the WSJ:
The iP1 Pistol will cost $1,399 and the watch an additional $399, Armatix said. That is a significant premium over a Glock or Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. handgun, which costs in the range of $400 to $500. 
To use the Armatix, the gun's owner must enter a five-digit passcode into the watch, which then communicates wirelessly with the weapon to unlock it. The user can set the pistol to be active for one to eight hours. . . .
$1,800 for a handgun versus about $450.  How many poor people can afford a $1,350 additional cost of buying a gun?  Early this year I wrote about what appears a deliberate push by Democrats to price poor people out of owning guns.  The problem here is that poor minorities who live in high crime urban areas are the ones who benefit the most from owning guns for self protection and they are also the very ones who are going to be priced out of owning them.


Obama and Democrats stop calling Obama's health care law Obamacare


Obama destroys yet another internship program

Boy, aren't these young people lucky not to have these internships?  It is fortunately that the Obama administration is protecting them.  As someone who has had a lot of interns over the years, the notion of paying interns is nice, but they might as well insist on getting paid by their universities to attend there.  Internships often take a lot more work on the part of those running them then on the students produce.  From the New York Post:
They work until 11 at night, lug 40-pound garment bags throughout the city and get scolded for not adhering tape to mood boards correctly. And yet being a Condé Nast intern remains one of the most coveted, sought-after unpaid jobs in town. 
To an aspiring media-ite, a Condé internship is a stiletto stacked in prestige wrapped in promises of opportunity. It is a fancy incubator for future media power players: Fashion designer Whitney Port, author Lauren Conrad and beauty blogger Emily Weiss all got their start interning at the media mammoth. 
So you can imagine the surprise when, last month, Condé Nast announced it was terminating its internship program. Starting in 2014, Condé publications including Vogue, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair will no longer give students the opportunity to toil — and learn — in their hallowed halls. 
The bold decision came on the heels of a lawsuit filed in June 2012 by two former Condé interns: Matthew Leib, who interned at The New Yorker in 2009 and 2010, and Lauren Ballinger, who worked at W magazine in 2009. 
The two sued the media conglomerate for failing to pay them minimum wage  . . .
“The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law do not allow employers to allow workers to work for free — even if the workers give their consent,” says Leib and Ballinger’s attorney, Rachel Bien at Outten & Golden. . . .

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Paris manhunt for just released prisoner who went on shooting spree

From the WSJ:
Police were conducting a frantic manhunt Monday for a gunman suspected in two shootings and a brief hostage-taking that stunned Paris and which authorities were treating as possibly terrorist-related. 
One man, a photographer's assistant, was in critical condition after being shot in the chest at the offices of a national newspaper, police said. 
Authorities seemed to be at a loss as to the gunman's identity or motive, and appealed for witnesses to come forward to help track him down. The 65-year-old man who had been briefly taken hostage told police that his assailant claimed to have a hand grenade and said he had just gotten out of jail. 
"Our main lead is that there is a single perpetrator," prosecutor François Molins told a news conference. He said his staff was investigating any possible motivation, including terrorism. . . .


Justice Breyer on interpreting the Constitution

New York Post piece on the "nuclear option" push in the Senate

Apparently, the Democrats now have the 51 votes they need to eliminate the filibuster and they are going to push for it soon.  My newest piece at the New York Post starts this way:
President Obama’s timing could have been better. Only two weeks ago in Texas, at a fundraiser, he bragged about “remaking the courts.” 
Obama told the audience: “In addition to the Supreme Court, we’ve been able to nominate and confirm judges of extraordinary quality all across the country on federal benches. We’re actually, when it comes to the district court, matching the pace of previous presidents. When it comes to the appellate court, we’re just a little bit behind, and we’re just going to keep on focused on it.” 
This was quite a change from June, when he accused Republicans of “cynically” engaging in “unprecedented” obstruction of judicial nominations. The president made those charges when he nominated three judges to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia: Patricia Millett, Cornelia Pillard and Robert Wilkins. 
With Republicans filibustering these nominations over the last three weeks, Democrats are now threatening to deploy the “nuclear option” — in effect, ending the ability of senators to filibuster court nominations. On Monday, after the vote to break the filibuster on Wilkins failed, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) warned: “The talk about changing the cloture rules for judicial nominations will no longer be just talk. There will be action.” 
But this is all political rhetoric; the complaints are exaggerated. In fact,  . . .
UPDATE:  Compare Obama's statements to the fundraiser two weeks ago to the his statement today.  From The Hill newspaper:
[Obama] said “enough is enough” and applauded Senate Democrats for changing the body’s rules to prevent a filibuster on nominations other than to the Supreme Court. 
“I support the step that a majority of Senators took to change the way Washington does business,” Obama said. “I realize neither party has been blameless for these tactics ... But today's pattern of obstruction just isn't normal.” . . .

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So do professional football players face shorter life expectancy than those in baseball or Americans generally?: Apparently not

Bill Barnwell has a very detailed discussion of the numbers.  One would think that with all the discussion these days about the barbarianism in football and the claims of suicides being blamed on the sport, the life expectancy of players would be quite short.


Senate Democrats now have the votes to push the "nuclear option"

From the Washington Post:
The aide says Reid believes he now has 51 Dem Senators behind a rules change, if it comes down to it. The Huffington Post reports that some Dem Senators who have previously opposed changing the rules — such as Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein — are now open to it. “I believe that we are there,” the aide tells me. . . .


Where did billions of dollars in aid for climate change go?

Click to make larger

The Washington Post has this headline: "Wealthy nations pledged billions to help the poor adapt to climate change. Where did it all go?"  
2010-2012: The first $35 billion in climate aid. Between 2010 and 2012, the world's wealthy nations say they provided $35 billion to help poorer countries adjust to climate change, as promised at Copenhagen. (You can see a full breakdown of these pledges from the World Resources Institute here.) . . .The United States, for instance, says it provided $7.5 billion in "fast start" climate finance between 2010 and 2012, spread out across more than a hundred countries. . . .Poorer nations have pressed for more aid to help adapt, particularly since they both face greater risks but are also less responsible for the carbon-dioxide emissions currently in the atmosphere. . . .
Look, I don't think that a warmer planet would on net be very beneficial, but assuming that you believe that it is bad, what is this "less responsible" claim?  Compare CO2 emissions per dollar of GDP for the US and China.  In 2008, CO2 KG per dollar of GDP was 126 percent higher in China than the US.  Earlier data for all countries is available here.

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Obama using executive orders pushing gun control: Lots of costs, no benefits

So exactly why would it matter for stopping crime whether gun dealers do their inventories once a month or once every quarter?  Obviously doing inventories more frequently is more costly.  But suppose that gun dealers report any stolen guns more quickly.  What exactly will the government do with this information that will help solve crime?  The point here is more quickly to "shine light on an often unseen corner of the gun market."  Clearly the goal is just to make getting a gun more costly, not to lower crime rates.  From The Hill newspaper:
Police have a hard time tracking firearms that disappear from gun shops, which “just feeds the sort of already large and existing secondary market on guns,” said Sam Hoover, a staff attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 
It is unclear precisely what the draft regulations, drawn up by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and under review at the White House’s regulations office, would do. . . . 
The draft rule was sent to the White House five months after the ATF completed a report that found that more than 190,000 firearms were estimated to have been lost or stolen last year. The report was one of 23 executive actions President Obama announced in January to reduce gun violence in the wake of last year’s shooting in Newtown, Conn. 
That report helped to shine light on an often unseen corner of the gun market, supporters of stricter gun laws say. . . .



CBS News poll show even Democrats getting closer to the tipping point for opposing Obamacare, Obama's approval rate down to 37%

Republicans and Independents have long been strongly against Obamacare, but if even the majority of Democrats turn against it, can congressional Democrats really keep supporting it?  Obama's approval rating is now down solidly below 40 percent.  The fact that even support among Democrats is heading down to near 50 percent shows the problem that Obamacare is facing.  From CBS News:
Thirty-seven percent now approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing as president, down from 46 percent in October -- a nine point drop in just a month. Mr. Obama's disapproval rating is 57 percent -- the highest level for this president in CBS News Polls. . . . 
Republicans are nearly unanimous in their disapproval of the law, and now more than two-thirds of independents agree. Almost six in ten Democrats continue to support the law, but their support has dropped 16 points from last month - from 74 percent in October to 58 percent today. Support has dropped 11 points among independents and five points among Republicans. . . .


Obama ignores law and exempts unions from Obamacare tax

Special political favors and ignoring what the law actually says in one stroke.  From the WSJ:
But don't expect ObamaCare favors unless you helped to re-elect the President. In an aside in a Federal Register document filed this month, the Administration previewed its forthcoming regulation: "We also intend to propose in future rulemaking to exempt certain self-insured, self-administered plans from the requirement to make reinsurance contributions for the 2015 and 2016 benefit years." . . . 
There's no conceivable rationale—other than politics—for releasing union-only plans from a tax that is defined as universal in the Affordable Care Act statute. Like so many other ObamaCare waivers, this labor dispensation will probably turn out to be illegal. . . .  
Count all of this as one more illustration of the way that ObamaCare has put politicians in control of health care. Some people get taxed but others don't, some people get subsidies but others don't, and some have to pay more so Mr. Obama can deliver favors to his political constituents.


Politico says that Obama told insurance companies "no bailout," only that there would be "sweeteners," also confuses two types of bailouts

The headline on Politico surely makes Obama look tough: "President Obama to insurers: No bailout."
President Barack Obama had some bad news for the insurance company CEOs who met him at the White House: His “fix” might cost them. 
Obama asked the CEOs to reinstate millions of Americans’ health insurance plans that were canceled because they fell short of coverage requirements under the law, according to two executives who attended the session Friday. 
The president offered the execs some sweeteners, but admitted they won’t necessarily add up to enough to cover the full brunt of added costs that the changes to the insurance market could create. . . .
But there is a bigger problem.  Two different issues are being confused.  Will the insurance companies be compensated for the additional costs that they face from Obama's new "fix" in letting people supposedly keep their insurance policies?  Obama claims that they won't be completely compensated.  Will insurance companies get compensated for losses that they suffer generally from participating in the Obamacare exchanges?  Yes.  On this second point is this op-ed by Senator Rubio in the WSJ:
Buried deep in the Department of Health and Human Services' press release that accompanied the president's Nov. 14 speech was this sentence: "Though this transitional policy was not anticipated by health insurance issuers when setting rates for 2014, the risk corridor program should help ameliorate unanticipated changes in premium revenue. We intend to explore ways to modify the risk corridor program final rules to provide additional assistance." . . . 
Subsequent regulatory rulings have made clear that the administration views this risk-corridor authority as a blank check, requiring no further consultation or approval by Congress. A final rule handed down in March by HHS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services states: "Regardless of the balance of payments and receipts, HHS will remit payments as required under section 1342 of the Affordable Care Act." 
On Nov. 14, the American Academy of Actuaries issued a press release saying that President Obama's plan to reverse health-insurance cancellations "could lead to negative consequences for consumers, health insurers, and the federal government." More specifically, the academy said, "Costs to the federal government could increase as higher-than-expected average medical claims are more likely to trigger risk corridor payments." . . .
Politico has another article where they continue to confuse the two points.
The president has said there will be no bailout, telling insurance companies there is a limited amount of help the White House can provide. . . . 


The Senate "Nuclear Option" looks more and more certain

The quotes from Democrat Senators keep coming.  Yesterday I pointed to quite a few.  Now from the Huffington Post:
"I am very open to changing the rules for nominees," Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told The Huffington Post. "I was not before, because I felt we could work with them. But it's gotten to an extreme situation where really qualified people can't get an up-or-down vote." 
"I do now," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters when asked if she supports filibuster reform. She said she changed her mind on the issue after watching as a bipartisan deal to let President Barack Obama's nominees get votes, struck over the summer, went nowhere. 
"We had a meeting in the Old Senate Chamber and everybody had an opportunity ... to really express themselves," Feinstein said of the summer meeting. "I thought it was going to bring about a new day. The new day lasted one week, and then we're back to the usual politics." . . .  
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) replied . . . "It's time to changes the rules for nominees." . . .  
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he's "open" to the idea of filibuster reform for nominees, saying he sympathizes with Obama on the issue, given his own experience as a governor and an executive. "You have to get your team together," Manchin said. Asked why he thinks some of his colleagues remain reluctant to support changes, he shrugged.
From the WSJ:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) is convinced Democrats must move to alter Senate rules to limit the minority party's ability to filibuster the nominees, and is ready to take the controversial step if his caucus backs it, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide. . . .  Mr. Reid could move as early as this week. . . .  
Mr. Reid said Tuesday that he was "considering looking at the rules."
Real Clear Politics has this:
“I’m at the point where we need to do something to allow government to function,” Reid told reporters. “I’m considering looking at the rules,” he said. . . . 


Obama's big initial success story of Obamacare turns out to be a personal disaster

Washington state exchange is reportedly “looking into” Jessica Sanford’s situation, but I assume that the state doesn't have the time or resources to do that for a large number of people.  It also calls into question the enrollment numbers because Sanford is going to go uninsured unless she gets some type of special treatment.  From Politico:
Jessica Sanford, a Washington state resident and self-employed court reporter, has received numerous letters from her state’s exchange program notifying her of increased costs to her plan and tax credit miscalculationsaccording to CNN
“Wow. You guys really screwed me over,” Sanford wrote on a Facebook post about the Washington state exchange website. “Now I have been priced out and will not be able to afford the plans you offer. But, I get to pay $95 and up for not having health insurance. I am so incredibly disappointed and saddened. You majorly screwed up.” . . . 
“It was a huge disappointment, and especially since my story had been shared by the president,” Sanford said in an interview that aired Tuesday on CNN’s “New Day.” “I just felt really embarrassed.” . . . 
But Sanford said she was then notified by the state that a miscalculation in tax credit eligibility meant her monthly coverage costs would increase from $198 to $280. CNN also notes that Sanford initially paid $169, but had switched plans. 
Sanford said she was then notified again of a “system error” and given a higher quote. Alternate plans were out of her budget. Yet another letter explained Sanford would receive no federal tax credit to help cover the cost, which she said she had a “good cry” over. . . .


Bobby Baker's amazing history of the US Senate, the personal weaknesses of Senators

Politico has a long interview with Bobby Baker, long known as the top fixer in the US Senate.  Baker, a loyal Democrat, might have viewed the Senate through a slightly colored lens and much of the dirt seems to be on Southern Democrats or Republicans.  I have no idea how much of this is a result of the desire for political payback for the political corruption investigation that ended his career in 1963 and lead to an 18 month prison term, but it still makes for very interesting reading (see here and here for all the dirt).

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Buckley, Washington: 67-year-old homeowner shots man who broke into his home

From the Seattle Times:
The Pierce County sheriff’s office says a homeowner who shot and killed an intruder near Buckley will not be arrested. 
Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer says the 21-year-old intruder was acting erratically late Monday when he drove through a driveway gate, crashed into several parked cars and then forced his way into the home near 258th Avenue East and 164th Street East. 
A woman who lives in the home locked herself in a bathroom and called 911. Her husband grabbed a gun and went to investigate. 
Troyer says the homeowner fired at least two shots, killing the intruder inside the home. . . .


Did the Obama administration doctor unemployment data to help him win reelection?

For the Obama administration to have done something this outrageous rand this dangerous, they must have believed this data made a difference in the presidential race.  I had been asked by reporters about whether the unemployment data was rigged, but I said that I couldn't believe that was the case because it would eventually be detected and the consequences of being caught would be tremendous.  From The Hill:
“The allegation that data gathered by the Census Bureau is being manipulated for any reason is extremely serious. The Oversight Committee has jurisdiction over the Census Bureau and will be thoroughly investigating these claims,” he said in a statement. 
Farenthold chairs the Oversight subcommittee with jurisdiction over the census. A bureau representative did not respond to a request for comment. 
The unemployment rate is calculated by the Labor Department based on survey data of 60,000 households, conducted by the bureau. 
The Post report claimed that a census employee fabricated data for survey respondents he could not contact. The employee, Julius Buckmon, told the publication he was told to do so by superiors, and the report claims there were multiple employees doing the same. . . .

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How China determines who gets to be the prominent Chinese academic experts in US

Fred Hiatt has this at the Washington Post:

. . . Last month, a cultural attache in the Chinese embassy in Washington invited Perry Link to attend a Forum of Overseas Sinologists in Beijing in December. 
Given that Link is one of America’s eminent China scholars, this might not be surprising — except that he had not received a visa to enter China since 1996 for reasons the Chinese have never explained. 
Link replied that he would be interested in attending, but would he receive a visa? 
Absolutely, he was told. 
You’re sure? Link e-mailed back. 
Of course, the attache replied. Just send your passport, “and I can help you to finish the visa application.” 
Link sent his passport and application, and on Nov. 8 received the following message: “After review, I’d like to inform you that you will not be invited to the forum.” 
The Lucy-and-the-football quality of this exchange is striking, but Link is far from the only foreign scholar to be blacklisted. In 2011, 13 respected academics who had contributed chapters to a book on Xinjiang, a province of western China that is home to a restive Muslim minority, found themselves banned
Link, who has forged a distinguished careerat Princeton and the University of California at Riverside can survive a visa ban. But for a young anthropologist seeking tenure, the inability to do field research could be terminal. And because China never explains its refusals or spells out what kind of scholarship is disqualifying, the result is a kind of self-censorship and narrowing of research topics that is damaging even if impossible to quantify. . . .
My own research on using schooling to instill indoctrination is available here.

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The "Nuclear Option" push really begins now

The Huffington Post as this ominous quote from Senator Patrick Leahy:
"I fear that after tonight, the talk about changing the cloture rules for judicial nominations will no longer be just talk. There will be action," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We cannot allow this unprecedented, wholesale obstruction to continue without undermining the Senate’s role provided in the Constitution and without harming our independent federal judiciary." . . .
Some quotes from angry Democratic Senators in Roll Call:
Democratic leaders are again taking the temperature of their caucus on whether to finally go “nuclear” and change the Senate rules after Republicans blocked another judge Monday night, aides said. 
Conversation about the “nuclear option” between leaders and the rank and file began as members trickled back into town before a failed 53-38 cloture vote on the nomination of Robert L. Wilkins to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. . . .
“When will we say enough is enough? Repeatedly over the past month, a minority of Senators has blocked qualified nominees by abusing the Senate rules. The rules on nominees are not working, and we need to change them,” [Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.] said in the statement. “This court will rule on the critical protections that we put in place to protect hard working families from the predatory practices of Wall Street. We cannot let a minority of Senators block qualified nominees and endanger the important reforms that have been put in place to protect Oregon families.” . . . 
“When it comes to judicial nominations, I am fulfilling my constitutional responsibility, but Congress is not. Instead, Senate Republicans are standing in the way of a fully-functioning judiciary that serves the American people,” Obama said. “The American people and our judicial system deserve better. A majority of the United States Senate supports these three extraordinary nominees, and it is time for simple yes-or-no votes without further obstruction or delay.” . . . 
“I am very hopeful that Sen. Reid will be able to get … these votes on the floor so that they can be voted up-or-down, but I think we have a constitutional responsibility, particularly with judges, to vote on the nominations of the president,” Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin said at the CBC news conference. . . .
It may take weeks to get there, but the latest GOP tactic essentially guarantees the Senate will soon endure another draining fight over changing the chamber’s rules by a simple majority by invoking what is called the “nuclear option.” . . . .
CNN notes:
the idea [“nuclear option”] has gained steam in recent weeks even among some veteran Democratic senators who have been reluctant to change the rules. . . . 
Another article in Roll Call mentions that Democrats are pushing the claim that the filibuster was due to racism.
Minutes after Senate Republicans blocked confirmation of an African-American judge to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, suggested that one of the motivators for the filibuster was his race. 
“I certainly think it had some impact,” said Fudge at a press conference flanked by fellow CBC members and Democratic Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island after Republicans blocked Judge Robert L. Wilkins. “It is clear who they are keeping out of judicial nominations and other positions that we know have to be filled for the government to run effectively. 
“You have to ask them what their motives are,” Fudge continued. “All I know is what I see.” . . . 

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Why do Democrats like marriage penalties so much?: Now the marriage penalty in Obamacare

For decades we had a severe marriage penalty in the income tax system.  With that largely solved, now we have a marriage penalty for high income earners in Obamacare.  From The Atlantic:
The first time I heard Nona Willis Aronowitz talk about getting divorced to save money on health insurance I thought she couldn't really be serious. We were at Monte's, an old Italian place in South Brooklyn, having dinner with a group of New York women writers in late July. 
"Don't do it!" I urged her, certain, having watched my friends over the years, that no matter how casually she or her husband might treat the piece of paper that says they are married, getting unhitched would inevitably change their relationship as profoundly as getting hitched in the first place. 
But with the arrival of the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges, the question for Nona and her husband Aaron Cassara moved from the realm of casual conversation to a real financial conundrum. . . . 
Any married couple that earns more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level—that is $62,040—for a family of two earns too much for subsidies under Obamacare. "If you're over 400 percent of poverty, you're never eligible for premium" support, explains Gary Claxton, director of the Health Care Marketplace Project at the Kaiser Family Foundation. 
But if that same couple lived together unmarried, they could earn up to $45,960 each—$91,920 total—and still be eligible for subsidies through the exchanges in New York state, where insurance is comparatively expensive and the state exchange was set up in such a way as to not provide lower rates for younger people. (Subsidy eligibility is calculated using a complicated formula involving income in relation to the poverty line, family size, and the price of plans offered through a state's marketplace.) . . . .

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What does the head of Interpol think that we should do to protect people from terrorists? Get rid of gun-free zones

The problem is that creating "secure perimeters" around all possible targets is impossible.  Interpol Secretary General Ron Noble is pretty clear: "You can't have armed police forces everywhere."  Given that Noble is right that we have only two alternatives, it seems to me that there is no option but to accept his second option: let people defend themselves.  From ABC News:
Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said today the U.S. and the rest of the democratic world is at a security crossroads in the wake of last month's deadly al-Shabab attack at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya – and suggested an answer could be in arming civilians. 
In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Noble said there are really only two choices for protecting open societies from attacks like the one on Westgate mall where so-called "soft targets" are hit: either create secure perimeters around the locations or allow civilians to carry their own guns to protect themselves. 
"Societies have to think about how they're going to approach the problem," Noble said. "One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that. Another is to say the enclaves are so secure that in order to get into the soft target you're going to have to pass through extraordinary security." . . . 
Citing a recent call for al Qaeda "brothers to strike soft targets, to do it in small groups," Noble said law enforcement is now facing a daunting task. 
"How do you protect soft targets? That's really the challenge. You can't have armed police forces everywhere," he told reporters. "It's Interpol's view that one way you protect soft targets is you make it more difficult for terrorist to move internationally. So what we're trying to do is to establish a way for countries … to screen passports, which are a terrorist's best friend, try to limit terrorists moving from country to country. And also, that we're able to share more info about suspected terrorists." . . . 
"Ask yourself: If that was Denver, Col., if that was Texas, would those guys have been able to spend hours, days, shooting people randomly?" Noble said, referring to states with pro-gun traditions. "What I'm saying is it makes police around the world question their views on gun control. It makes citizens question their views on gun control. You have to ask yourself, 'Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past with an evolving threat of terrorism?' This is something that has to be discussed." . . . 
"For me it's a profound question," he continued. "People are quick to say 'gun control, people shouldn't be armed,' etc., etc. I think they have to ask themselves: 'Where would you have wanted to be? In a city where there was gun control and no citizens armed if you're in a Westgate mall, or in a place like Denver or Texas?'" . . .
ABC News goes on to immediately mention the deadly "movie theater in Aurora, Col., a suburb of Denver," but, of course, the story fails to note that the movie theater was a gun-free zone.

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Shock, Even the liberal Chicago Tribune is calling for Obamacare to be dumped

As problems continue to pile up, and they will, the pressure will continue to build.  It is pretty amazing when someplace like the Chicago Tribune pushes Obama for violating the law.  From the Chicago Tribune:
As Friday dawns, here's what a health insurance crisis looks like to many millions of Americans: Barely six weeks shy of 2014, they do not know whether they will have medical coverage Jan. 1. Or which hospitals and doctors they might patronize. Or what they may pay to protect themselves and their families against the chance of medical and financial catastrophe. How much, that is, they may pay in order to satisfy the Democratic politicians and federal bureaucrats who are worsening a metastasizing health coverage fiasco. . . .  
On some level, then, the president plainly agrees with critics of Obamacare, this page included, that the law needs to be rewritten: He and his administration keep rewriting its major components — remember the mandate that sizable employers offer coverage in 2014? — as practicalities and politics demand.  
But in this country we don't change bad laws by presidential fiat. We change them by having Congress rewrite them or by starting from scratch. Obama doesn't want to reopen this law for fear that Republicans and some Democrats will substantially rewrite it. But that's what has to happen. . . .  
Many of the Americans who heard their president say Thursday that "we fumbled the rollout of this health care law" would have been pleased to hear him add: So we're admitting it. This law is a bust. We're starting over.


Even Obama's allies in the press have a hard time with Obama's apologies