The debate over Romney's 47 percent comment

I understand that Romney's statement was politically stupid and that it confuses the fact that a lot of people are pressured by the government to behave differently than would otherwise be in their interest to behave.  If it were me, I would blame the government pressure, just as I blame the government for the break up of the African-American family.  But if Romney had said that farmers tended to vote for politicians who support aid to farmers, would that have been OK?  Why would this be any more surprising than the fact that unions support politicians who help out unions or that the NRA supports politicians who support their positions?  Would the national media had come down on Obama if he had lost and blamed it on the NRA?  Wait, didn't Clinton already blame the NRA for loses in 1994 and 2000?  Well, I suppose those cases are different, right?  I would hope that someone will explain the differences to me.

In addition, Romney's comments sound like a lot of academic economics papers on this regulation and generally how government operates.  See for example, Sam Peltzman's 1976 paper in the Journal of Law and Economics or Gary Becker's comment.  From Politico:
Mitt Romney told donors Wednesday he blamed last week’s loss to President Barack Obama in part to “gifts” the Obama administration gave to key voter blocs, including African Americans, Hispanics and young women, according to media reports. 
“The president’s campaign focused on giving targeted groups a big gift — so he made a big effort on small things. Those small things, by the way, add up to trillions of dollars,” Romney said on a conference call with donors, the Los Angeles Times first reported. 
The “gifts,” according to Romney, included forgiving college loan interest, free contraceptive coverage and the part of Obamacare that allows people 26 and younger to be covered under their parents’ health care plans. 
“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free healthcare, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free healthcare worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity. I mean, this is huge,” Romney said, the New York Times reported. . . .

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My third son Roger has set up a website

Roger is trying his hand at acting.  You can see his website here.

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Is this possibly right?: "White House 'Held Affair Over Petraeus's Head' For Favorable Testimony On Benghazi"

It is very hard to believe that even the Obama administration would do this.  It is also hard to believe that this claim could be proved since it is not in Petraeus' interest to acknowledge that he was blackmailed into providing false evidence to Congress.  However, if Krauthammer happens to be correct, it will indicate that the Obama administration thought that they were going to lose the election if they didn't hide the information on the Benghazi attack.


Democrats not backing away from government Solyndra type investments

Democrats still think that they are better than investors at deciding where the best investments are.
Silicon Valley’s Democratic representative said Republicans would handcuff U.S. competitiveness in clean technology if the GOP succeeds in ending a federal loan guarantee program. 
Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) said in a Thursday column in The Huffington Post that the “No More Solyndras” bill pushed by Republicans would stifle innovation. 
“There is an urgent need for investment in new technologies in America,” Honda said. “There is an urgent need for venture risk in America, and the federal government must be involved through programs like the Department of Energy's loan guarantees.” 
The bill is scheduled for a Friday vote. It would sunset the federal loan guarantee program that gave California solar-panel maker Solyndra a $535 million loan guarantee from the government, only to have the company go bust in 2011. . . .
Congressman Honda argues:
There is an urgent need for investment in new technologies in America. There is an urgent need for venture risk in America, and the federal government must be involved through programs like the Department of Energy's loan guarantees. . . .
But the question isn't whether there should be investments, the question is whether the government should be deciding where to make investments.  The two are quite different points.



"Biden: 'We've got to get this economy working' before considering 2016"

Well, it is great to know that they have eight years to get things fixed.  A little longer than what they promised.
“We’ve got to get this economy working. If three years from now the economy is not working, it’s not going to be worth doing much. This is all about making Barack an incredibly successful second-term president. That’s my focus.” 
Biden had alluded to a possible presidential bid as recently as Election Day, when he was asked  after voting if that would be his last time voting for himself. 
“No, I don’t think so," Biden said with a grin. . . .

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Only 16 states and the District of Columbia are on track to establish healthcare exchanges

Fox News has this:
. . . As many as 16 states and the District of Columbia are on track to establish their own exchanges, while at least nine have decided they will not. Those nine states, if they chose not to run their own exchanges, have until February 15 to commit to a state partnership exchange and submit their plan. Otherwise, the federal government will run the exchanges. 
Employer and individuals face similar decisions and deadlines. 
Businesses with 50-plus workers will essentially be assessed a fee of $2,000 to $3,000 per full-time employee for not offering coverage. Their deadline is Jan. 1, 2014. 
Residents who don't have insurance through an employer, with few exceptions, also have until January 2014 to decide whether to buy insurance through the exchanges or face a penalty assessed through the Internal Revenue Service. 
The fines essentially begin in 2014 at $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, then increase to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child by 2016, according to the Kaiser Foundation. There are lingering questions about whether the IRS would enforce those fines. . . .
A list of firms that are going to lay off workers as a result of Obamacare is available here.  Papa John's is one company making the obvious point that it will have to cut back on the number of full-time employees.  Many leftwing organizations are attacking firms for having to do what is pretty obvious (see the discussion at the Daily Kos here on Papa John's, here, and here).

Betsy McCaughey has an op-ed on this in today's New York Post.
If you get your health insurance through a job, you might lose it as of Jan. 1, 2014. 
When you file your taxes, you will have to show proof that you are enrolled in the one-size-fits-all plan approved by the federal government. 
If you’re a senior or a baby boomer, expect less care than in the past. 
For the first time in history, the federal government will control how doctors treat privately insured patients. 
If you sell your house and make a profit, you’ll likely be paying a new 3.8 percent tax on the gain. 
A related WSJ piece is available here.


"Wife runs over non-voting husband"

From Politico:
An Arizona woman who can’t stand President Barack Obama slammed her husband — literally — for not voting, wedging him between the family Jeep and the street curb, a report says
Holly Solomon, 28, and her husband Daniel, 36, got into an argument on Saturday night over his failure to vote, news reports say. She then chased him around a parking lot in the Jeep, screaming, before hitting him as a he tried to run to a bigger street, witnesses told police, according to the report. . . .

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Federal Government increases the required training for pilots by six fold. No obvious safety reason, will drive up pilots' wages

Was there an obvious problem with pilot safety that needed to be fixed? The Wall Street Journal notes:
Congress's 2010 vote to require 1,500 hours of experience in August 2013 came in the wake of several regional-airline accidents, although none had been due to pilots having fewer than 1,500 hours. . . .
The law came about after the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 on February 12, 2009 in which 49 passengers and crew were killed.  The pilot, Captain Marvin Renslow, had 3,379 hours of flight experience.   First Officer Rebecca Lynne Shaw had over 2,200 hours, including 772 flying the type of plane that crashed.  So the particular rule would be irrelevant to that case.  Part of the problem seems to be pilot unions making it very difficult to fire troublesome pilots.  In this case, Renslow had a slew of problems.  From the WSJ:
Capt. Renslow, 47, joined Colgan in September 2005 after graduating from a pilot-training academy, employment records show. He had a history of flunking check rides -- periodic tests of competency that are also required anytime a pilot begins flying a new type of aircraft. Before joining Colgan, he failed three proficiency checks on general aviation aircraft administered by the FAA, according to investigators and the airline. Colgan's spokesman said the company now believes Capt. Renslow failed to fully disclose that poor performance when applying for a job. 
Once at Colgan, he failed in his initial attempt to qualify as a co-pilot on the Beech 1900 aircraft, and also had to redo his check ride to upgrade to captain on the Saab 340 turboprop, according to investigators. Repeated check-ride failures raise red flags, and large carriers rarely keep pilots who require such extensive remedial training, according to numerous industry officials. Colgan's Mr. Williams said Capt. Renslow's last unsatisfactory check ride occurred 16 months before the accident, and he subsequently passed six consecutive competency tests and completed three regular training sessions. . . .
Increased training requirements is simply a way to restrict the number of people who become airline pilots, thus driving up their wages.  The unions also push for classifying any crashes as involving fatigue as another way of restricting the supply of pilot hours and further increasing their hourly wages. Indeed, even in the Colgan Air crash, there has been a strong push to have it classified as due to fatigue.

The costs of this training is huge.  The first 250 hours involve a flight instructor and cost about $200/hour.  The next 1,250 hours don't require an instructor and will run about $150/hour.  That comes to $50,000 plus $187,500 for a total of $237,500.  These are the costs of training on a single engine plane, and the costs of multi-engine aircraft rentals will be higher.  Multi-engine training or training with jet or turboprops might be necessary to become an airline pilot.  The training itself can take a couple of years.  While there is no hourly restriction yet on the number of hours that one can fly in a particular week, fatigue limits how long you can fly and weather conditions will also limit flight time.

What often happens now is that people will get the first 250 hours of training and then become a flight instructor.  It usually takes someone about 400 to 500 hours of flight experience before they are hired by a commuter airline.  The new rule will effectively increase training by 3 to 4 times, but worse it will dramatically raise the costs of people becoming pilots because there is simply no way that all the new entrants can be  instructors for the new required amount of time.  

Currently this 1,500 hour training requirement even applies to military pilots.  Why make the requirement for experienced military pilots three times what it used to be for civilian pilots?  It isn't clear why military pilots need much training at all, but to have it be three times what used to work for civilians when there wasn't even a problem there seems unnecessarily costly.
The FAA is trying to soften the blow. It has proposed a rule that would lower the requirement to 750 hours for military aviators and 1,000 hours for graduates of four-year aviation universities. But the exemption, if it goes through, may come too late, and it isn't expected to help most aviators in training anyway, because they come from other types of flight schools. . . . 
The 1,500-hour mandate "has only discouraged a future generation of prospective pilots to pursue this career," said Mr. Cohen, from the regional airline group. Those who persevere "will try to get the 1,500 hours the fastest and cheapest way possible," he said. "Flying around in empty airspace or towing banners doesn't give you the training you need to fly a complex airplane." . . . 
One pilot for a major airline who I talked to said that the rules are definitely to drive up the wages of pilots.

All the responsibility for any errors here is mine, but I appreciate the comments from Tracy Price and Bill Clayton.

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Defensive gun use in Kansas City

Here is a story from Kansas City, Missouri's KCTV (video available):
A homeowner fed up with burglaries used his shotgun to hold crooks at bay Friday morning.This occurred just before 5 a.m. at 5438 Blue Parkway on Kansas City's east side.
Jim "Jim Bob" Lundberg described noticing something was off near his shop area.
"I thought, 'Nobody's suppose to be there.' I thought they might be out there trying to steal the air conditioners," he said.
And he'd had enough of the crime in his neighborhood.
"So I went back to the house and grabbed my gun and went back up the hill where I've got vehicles parked and halfway up the hill I saw two people coming around," he recalled.
He believes they were attempting to vandalize one of the vehicles on his property. But it wasn't any vehicle. It was his beloved older model Chevy Camaro. When he saw them pull out cable cutters as if to remove the battery, he made his move.
"I jumped up and fired a shot. And I said, 'Hunker down!' I told them there wouldn't be a second shot, and they hit the ground," he said. "They hit the ground pretty quickly. But the thing was they wasn't going to be a second (warning) shot." . . .


Should we threat the exit polls on how Hispanics voted with skepticism?

Exit polls show that Obama got 71 percent of the Hispanic vote.  But there is a big potential problem with that claim.  Namely a very conservative state with a Republican Hispanic running for the US Senate not being included in the exit polling.
Although there was a clear budgetary rationale for omitting Texas from exit polling, it is a far more serious omission. Texas has one of the nation's largest Hispanic populations. It is one of the few states where Republicans have had some success in courting Hispanics, winning as much as 49 percent of their votes in 2004. Have all of those efforts fallen apart in the Obama era? Were Texas Hispanics as sour on Mitt Romney this time as Hispanics in other states? Did they swing further in Obama's direction, as they did in Colorado, or a bit away from him, as they did in Nevada and California? And how did these voters -- mostly Mexican by ancestry -- feel about Cruz, a Cuban-American who speaks with a Texas twang? . . .
Let me give you an example of the problem here.  The 19 states that were left out of the exit polling were states that tended to very strong Republican states, not just Texas.  One of the questions included in these exit polls every eight years is whether people own guns (1988, 1996, 2004 and now it should have been in there for 2012).  If you tend to leave out heavily Republican states, do you think that it might bias you poll on the rate that people own guns?  Sure, Democrats do own guns, but at a lower rate than Republicans and where Democrats own guns at the highest rates tend to be in heavily Republican states.

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Food Stamp data showing large increase delayed until after election?

If it is actually true that these data aren't released after the second day of the month, it would be hard to come up with a benign explanation for why it was released on the 9th this time.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their most recent data on U.S. participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly referred to as 'food stamps.'
While the report is ordinarily released at either the end of the month, or no later than the first or second day of the following month, the Obama administration waited until November 9, a full three days after the election to announce the number of Americans currently receiving food stamps.
After seeing the data, it is not surprising why the administration delayed the report...
By the end of August 2012 (the most recent data), there were 47.1 million Americans on food stamps, a new all-time record high.
Another 420,947 Americans were added to the food stamp rolls from the previous month of July, representing the largest monthly increase in a year. . . .
One could write a book on everything that the Obama administration seems to be hiding from the public.

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EPA chief used ‘aliases’ to hide correspondence from FOIA requests

If Obama values transparency, will he hold EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to account?

The name Richard Windsor may sound innocuous, but it is allegedly one of the secret “alias” email accounts used by Obama EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. 
“That is the name — sorry, one of the alias names — used by Obama’s radical EPA chief to keep her email from those who ask for it,” Chris Horner, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and author of the new book “The Liberal War on on Transparency,” told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an email. 
In his book, Horner revealed the existence of “alias” email accounts used by EPA administrators. The first such transparency dodge, he writes, came from Carol Browner, former director of the Obama White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy and Bill Clinton’s EPA administrator. 
“You remember Ms. Browner, the lady who suddenly ordered her computer hard drive reformatted and backup tapes erased, hours after a federal court issued a ‘preserve’ order … that her lawyers at the Clinton Justice Department insisted they hadn’t yet told her about?” Horner told TheDC News Foundation. “The one who said it’s all good because she didn’t use her computer for email anyway? That one.” . . . .

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Am I missing something about the new head of the New York Times?

Let me get this straight, George Entwistle, who has only been the BBC's director general for two months, resigned on Saturday.  But Mark Thompson, who ran the BBC when the coverup actually occurred, is set to become chief executive of the New York Times today.  Does this make sense to anyone?  Some pretty serious problems here.
Britain's BBC could be doomed unless it makes radical changes, the head of its governing trust said, after its director general quit to take the blame for the airing of false child sex abuse allegations against a former politician.
BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten said on Sunday confidence had to be restored if the publicly funded corporation was to withstand pressure from rivals, especially Rupert Murdoch's media empire, which would try to take advantage of the turmoil.

"If you're saying, 'Does the BBC need a thorough structural radical overhaul?', then absolutely it does, and that is what we will have to do," Patten, a one-time senior figure in Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party and the last British governor of Hong Kong, told BBC television. . . .
If a company in another industry were to hire someone in a similar situation, would the news media give the person largely a free pass?  Yet, it seems that the rest of the media is pretty quite about what is happening at the New York Times.



AK-47 sales soar, crime rates fall?

I don't think that increased sales of any particular type of gun is associated with crime rates, but I suspect that while gun sales have soared over the last four years, it is the types of guns most likely to be banned by a renewed Assault Weapons Ban that have seen the biggest increases.  Yet, over the last four years we have seen murder rates fall by 13 percent.  The point seemed pretty obvious to me when I saw this article.
 . . . He said: "We're going from normally six to eight guns a day, to 25. I stocked up, I got a stockpile of these AK-47s, we're selling these like hot cakes. Luckily I had an idea of what was going on because it happened with Clinton." 
Mr Bernstein said he normally orders up to 7,000 rounds a week from distributors but could now only get hold of 3,000 because of demand. 
John Kielbasa, owner of Fernwood Firearms in Hankins, New York, told CNN: "Sales are up. I had a guy waiting here first thing in the morning (the day after the election.) He came in, bought two AK-47s. It's going to be good for me for business."

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Politics enters into decision of whether to label Sandy as a hurricane

Is everything a political question when the government gets involved?  It certainly seems to.  It would be one thing for Schumer to say that NOAA should base its decision on science, but instead he argues that they should make a decision based on political considerations.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is urging the federal weather agency to avoid labeling super-storm Sandy a hurricane because doing so would raise insurance deductibles. 
Schumer sent a letter Sunday to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and insurance companies warning that classifying Sandy as a hurricane could boost deductibles to $20,000, compared with $1,000 for a tropical storm. . . .
The original story is available here