Author Archive

James O’Keefe video gets Republican Senate President to Drop out of Re-election race

by John Lott on Monday, April 14th, 2014

This is article 17 of 17 in the topic 2014 Elections

Despite a very closely divided state Senate in Wisconsin, Project Veritas did an undercover video that caused Republican Senate President Mike Ellis to not seek re-election this fall.   From Fox 6 in Milwaukee:

In the video, recorded two weeks ago, Ellis talks about creating a super PAC to spend money attacking his Democratic opponent state Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber. Ellis said he did not pursue the idea after realizing it was illegal. . . .

I have two thoughts on this: 1) this shows James O’Keefe is willing to go after what he considers bad behavior even when it targets Republicans (which is something that he deserves points for) and 2) whether this is bad behavior depends on the timeline here: the amount of time between the discussion and the release of the video.  If it is clear that Ellis wasn’t going to follow through on the discussion, I don’t see the problem.  There are so many complicated laws even legislators can’t be expected to understand all the implications of them.

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Justice Stevens’ op-ed in the Washington Post unintentionally shows the 2nd Amendment wasn’t aimed at protecting only government rights

by John Lott on Monday, April 14th, 2014

This is article 521 of 521 in the topic Gun Rights

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has a new book out where he suggests what was originally meant by the 2nd Amendment.  From his op-ed in the Washington Post:

As a result of the rulings in Heller and McDonald, the Second Amendment, which was adopted to protect the states from federal interference with their power to ensure that their militias were “well regulated,” has given federal judges the ultimate power to determine the validity of state regulations of both civilian and militia-related uses of arms. That anomalous result can be avoided by adding five words to the text of the Second Amendment to make it unambiguously conform to the original intent of its draftsmen. As so amended, it would read:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.” . . .

Stevens would like to add five words and also a comma after the word “Militia.”  But Stevens unintentionally shows what those who drafted the amendment would have to have written to make it clear that they wanted it only to apply to those in the militia.  There is a huge difference between “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed” and “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the militia shall not be infringed.”  Both statements are quite clear, but while Stevens would like everyone to believe that the 2nd Amendment was written as only a militia right.

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Newest piece at Investor’s Business Daily: “Michael Bloomberg, Gun Control And Fabricated Numbers”

by John Lott on Monday, April 14th, 2014

This is article 520 of 521 in the topic Gun Rights
Here is John Lott’s newest piece at Investor’s Business Daily:

No doubt, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg passionately believes in gun control. To his credit, he puts his own money — tens of millions of dollars, and possibly much more — into pushing the issue politically.

But Bloomberg’s push hasn’t been just political advertising, lobbying and media appearances. He also funds studies that have gone overboard in backing up his anti-gun beliefs.

To put it plainly, they have not only exaggerated their conclusions but have fabricated numbers. And these incorrect numbers have then been used to push for more regulations.

The connections to Bloomberg are not always obvious, as he has funded several organizations, making it look like there is more widespread support. There are Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health and two organizations of which he is the primary financial supporter though they are not directly connected to his name: Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action.

Over the last couple of years, studies from these organizations have received massive, uncritical news coverage, without even the slightest questioning of the numbers presented.

Take the recent report from Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action on school shootings, which was covered in more than 2,000 news stories. . . . .

The piece is continued here.

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White House YET AGAIN warns Russia “Against Seizing More Ukrainian Territory,” How many times can Obama threaten “consequences” and be taken seriously?

by John Lott on Monday, April 14th, 2014

This is article 1170 of 1170 in the topic International
Well, these threats from the Obama administration seem to be working well.  From the Wall Street Journal today:

The White House said Saturday it was concerned by what it called a “concerted campaign” by pro-Russian separatists to stoke tensions in eastern Ukraine, warning Russian President Vladimir Putin against using the events there as a pretext for seizing more Ukrainian territory.

In a phone call Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his concern with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the State Department said. Mr. Kerry made clear that if Russia doesn’t take action to de-escalate and move its troops back from Ukraine’s border, there would be consequences, the department said.

“We are very concerned by the concerted campaign we see under way in eastern Ukraine today by pro-Russian separatists, apparently with support from Russia, who are inciting violence and sabotage and seeking to undermine and destabilize the Ukrainian state,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Laura Lucas Magnuson said.

The White House said it saw similar “so-called protest activities” in Crimea before Russia’s takeover of the Ukrainian territory last month. “We call on President Putin and his government to cease all efforts to destabilize Ukraine, and we caution against further military intervention,” the White House spokeswoman said. . . . .

Have we heard this before?
From CNN on March 20th:

In a briefing to reporters, senior U.S. administration officials sounded further warnings against any Russian provocations in Ukraine.”We believe that it is very important to signal that if Russia further escalates this situation they will be met with severe consequences,” one official said. . . .

From BBC:

18 March: Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses parliament, defending Moscow’s actions on Crimea, then signs a bill to absorb the peninsula into the Russian Federation. Later, Ukraine says an officer has been killed as a military base is stormed in Simferopol, Crimea, the first such death in the region since pro-Russian forces took over in late February.

From a transcript at the White House on March 14th:

President Obama: “Obviously on our minds right now is the situation in Ukraine. Ireland has been a strong voice in the European Council for the need to send a clear message of support for Ukrainian democracy and self-determination, and a strong message to Russia that it should not violate the integrity and the sovereignty of its neighbor.  We continue to hope that there’s a diplomatic solution to be found, but the United States and Europe stand united not only in its message about Ukrainian sovereignty but also that there will be consequences if, in fact, that sovereignty continues to be violated.” . . .

From BBC:

12 March: Barack Obama pledges to stand with Ukraine during a meeting with interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk at the White House.
10 March: Armed men seize a military hospital in Simferopol.
8 March: The US and France warn of “new measures” against Russia if it does not withdraw its forces from Ukraine. Warning shots are fired at international monitors trying to enter Crimea. . .

Click to continue reading “White House YET AGAIN warns Russia “Against Seizing More Ukrainian Territory,” How many times can Obama threaten “consequences” and be taken seriously?”
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This was definitely the wrong house to break into: Three of four family members in home had guns

by John Lott on Monday, April 14th, 2014

This is article 319 of 319 in the topic Criminal Activity

More from WFLA News Channel 8:

A family in Winter Haven shot and killed a burglary suspect, according to the Winter Haven Police report.
Officers responded to the burglary call around 6:50 a.m. Monday. When they arrived to 4219 Lake Marianna Drive they found the burglary suspect, identified as 40-year-old Mitchell Large, dead in the residence.
According to WHPD,  the suspect was a complete stranger to the family who lived in the house. Police said, the homeowner Luis F. Pena, 54, his wife Bacenbina A. Pena, 53, and their son Luis A. Pena, 27, were all home when they heard a noise early Monday morning. A forth person, Lilliana E. Pena, 20, was also inside of the home, but did not witness the incident.

Luis A. Pena went to check on that and found somebody rattling the french doors leading off a back porch area. He pulled out a gun and fired a shot trying to scare off the intruder but the burglar didn’t stop.
The young man went back to the kitchen where his mother and father were, both armed. Police say Large continued to charge at the residents and   the three of them all shot at the intruder when they saw him.  . . .

From a later report from WTSP television:

Investigators say Mitchell Large, who appeared to be unarmed, has a criminal history of assault and domestic violence.
There appears, they say, to be no link between Large and the Pena family, making charges that much less likely.
“Whether he was armed or not armed, when he failed to retreat they certainly had a right, if it turns out to be this way, would have a right – to defend themselves” said Chief Hester. . . .

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The notion of revealed preference: Why employers are not indifferent between providing insurance and giving workers a higher wage to compensate them for buying insurance themselves

by John Lott on Monday, March 31st, 2014

This is article 670 of 674 in the topic Healthcare
  • From the oral argument in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
  • MR. CLEMENT:  . . . If they take away the health care insurance, they are going to have to increase the wages to make up for that. And they’re going to have to pay the $2,000 penalty on top of it, plus they’re going to have to violate their ­­ their own interest which is, we actually ­ we believe it’s important to provide our employees with qualified health care.
  • JUSTICE KENNEDY: Okay, the last is important. But just assume hypothetically that it’s a wash, that the employer would be in about the same position if he paid the penalty and the employer pardon me, an employee went out and got the insurance and that the employee’s wages were raised slightly and then it’s ­­ and that it’s a wash so far as the employer are concerned, other than the employer’s religious objection, but just on the financial standpoint. Can we assume that as a hypothetical. Then what would your case be?
  • If Hobby Lobby were really indifferent between these two outcomes, would they be willing to spend all the money and time on fighting this case in court?  There is the general issue of revealed preferences, and in this case employers are clearly indicating which choice they prefer by their actions.  If it wasn’t for the law, we know which choice they would prefer.  We also know how that choice changes with the law in place

    Finally, Clement is clearly right that in order for Hobby Lobby’s employees to be the same, they would not only have to have higher wages to compensate them for the lost insurance, but the firm would also have to pay $2,000 per employee.  $2,000 per employee might not seem like much to the Justices, but say an employee is receiving $40,000 per year.  Everything else equal in terms of insurance, would they be indifferent to their wages being cut by 5% to $38,000?

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    Cleveland Clinic CEO: “Three-Quarters Of ObamaCare Signups Have Higher Premiums”

    by John Lott on Monday, March 31st, 2014

    This is article 668 of 674 in the topic Healthcare

    Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove: “Well for the people who have signed up about 3/4s of them find that their premiums are higher than with other insurance.”


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    Seriously? Aetna CEO: “Only 11% Of ObamaCare Signups Have Been Uninsured”

    by John Lott on Monday, March 31st, 2014

    This is article 666 of 674 in the topic Healthcare

    KERNEN: “In spite of the government, you’re doing OK.”
    SORKIN: “What is your latest read on the website, if you will.”
    BERTOLINI: “You know, I think too much is being made of the website. We’ve all had website failures from time to time, and this was a particularly big problem, but I think, really, is the program working behind the website—”
    SORKIN: “OK, so what about the pool?”
    BERTOLINI: “So right now we see that only 11 percent of the population is people that were formerly uninsured that are now insured. So we didn’t really eat into the uninsured population. So, is the program working? We saw people that were very adept at shopping, so economics always works, so if I can find a cheaper policy versus the the one I already have, in the individual market, I’ll go and buy that. We didn’t see a whole lot of shift. As a matter of fact, employers shied away from moving their employees into public exchanges because they didn’t like the way it rolled out. And so, we saw employers pull back from thinking about the public exchanges for their employees. So what we saw was a shift from the individual insured market onto the public exchanges where they could get a better deal on the subsidy.”

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    Will Obama’s Justice Department prosecute Obama’s CIA?: Is this the Obama administration’s Watergate?

    by John Lott on Sunday, March 16th, 2014

    This is article 29 of 30 in the topic CIA
    Politicians are starting to talk about this in Watergate type terms.  From Politico:

    . . . “Heads will roll,” Graham said if an investigation confirms Feinstein’s allegations. “If what they’re saying is true about the CIA, this is Richard Nixon stuff. This is dangerous to a democracy, heads should roll, people should go to jail, if it’s true,” Graham said. “The legislative branch should declare war on the CIA — if it’s true.”“There needs to be an investigation of this whole situation,” McCain said. “It’s very disturbing.”
    “This raises a very troubling set of questions,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a frequent critic of the vast domestic surveillance. “We are right at the heart of the issue of how Congress goes about effectively doing oversight.” . . .

    If the CIA really secretly removed documents from computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee panel to investigate a controversial interrogation program, it would seem that Obama’s Department of Justice would have no problem prosecuting those responsible.  Even if the Obama administration secretly approved of this operation, they still might want to prosecute those involved.  But if the Obama administration doesn’t prosecute those involved, it would indicate that Obama’s CIA was doing what the Obama administration really wanted done.  From the Washington Post:

    The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday sharply accused the CIA of violating federal law and undermining the constitutional principle of congressional oversight as she detailed publicly for the first time how the agency secretly removed documents from computers used by her panel to investigate a controversial interrogation program. 

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that the situation amounted to attempted intimidation of congressional investigators, adding: “I am not taking it lightly.”

    She confirmed that an internal agency investigation of the action has been referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution. And she said that the CIA appears to have violated the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as various federal laws and a presidential executive order that prevents the agency from conducting domestic searches and surveillance.

    She has sought an apology and recognition that the CIA search of the committee’s computers was inappropriate, she said. “I have received neither,” she added.

    The comments by Feinstein, traditionally a strong advocate for the intelligence community, blow wide open a dispute that has simmered in recent weeks. . .  .

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    Corruption Hillary Clinton style

    by John Lott on Sunday, March 16th, 2014

    From the National Journal:

    The corruption scandal that has rocked local politics in D.C. now has a Hillary Clinton aide in the mix, one who has served as a close adviser and has been involved with her future plans for public life.

    Minyon Moore, a close Clinton confidant, has been connected to the guilty plea of businessman Jeffrey Thompson, who admitted to federal prosecutors that he made $3.3 million in illegal campaign contributions. Court papers allege that Moore had asked him to pay for pro-Clinton efforts in Puerto Rico and four states, The Washington Post’s Matea Gold and Rosalind Helderman report. It doesn’t appear there is evidence showing Clinton knew about it, prosecutors say.

    Burns Strider, a longtime Clinton aide who now works with the pro-Clinton rapid-response group Correct the Record, called the allegations “bizarre and brazenly false.” Strider defended Moore, with whom he’s worked with over the years, and called The Post’s reporting “irresponsible.”

    “I think it’s horse shit. I think The Washington Post is acting like some kind of an Internet blog or something instead of doing real reporting,” he told National Journal. “I think it’s pretty clear through everything that’s come out that [Moore] didn’t do anything wrong and has been exonerated and has been fully helpful in the case, and that’s the bottom line.”

    The Washington Post did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its reporting. . . .

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