Updating the changes in DC's crime rates since Heller

Over the last few years, I have been chronicling how DC murder and violent crime rates have changed before and after the Supreme Court's Heller decision (see here and here).  The Supreme Court's decision came down the end of June 2008, though it took about a month for DC to change its gun laws.  So as to compare the same period of time each year before and after the ban, the following numbers look at the first seven months of each year.

What I have pointed out is that even though very few handgun permits have been issued (only a few thousand the last time that I looked), the big change in DC was the court striking down the ban on having loaded long guns in the District.  It had been a felony to chamber a bullet or a shotgun shell.  When the Supreme Court made its decision over 72,000 adults legally owned long guns.  After the decision, almost a quarter of the adult population were suddenly able to legally use those guns for self defense.

The Boston Globe has this story about the huge recent drop in homicides in DC, but the article fails to note that the drop started right after the Supreme Court decision.  How can one write a story on this without mentioning the court's decision?  The article mentions the crack epidemic.  Crack was indeed a problem, but that problem ended in the early 1990s.

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Obama administration worries about terrorist threat from .22 caliber rifles

Obama's U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff is concerned about the threat that .22 caliber rifles are “among the greatest threats to the reliability of the nation’s power system."  From Bloomberg News:
An attacker “could get 200 yards away with a .22 rifle and take the whole thing out,” Wellinghoff said. For a “couple hundred bucks” a utility could install metal sheeting to block the view of transformers, he said. “If you can’t see through the fence, you can’t figure out where to shoot anymore.” 
The report released last week by the National Academy of Sciences called for the government to work with utilities to create a stockpile of transformers and other equipment that would be used in the event of an emergency. The Edison Electric Institute, a Washington-based industry group for publicly traded utilities, is leading a pilot program to install additional devices. . . .

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Long Island Power Authority, a government-run utility

A 25 year old computer system?  From Fox News:
. . . The New York Post reported that Long Island residents received an estimated rate that covered the entire billing cycle, and the statements made no mention of potential refunds to account for the prolonged blackouts.
"I can't get LIPA to acknowledge my existence on earth to talk to me about anything," Jonathan Saporta told the paper after getting hit with $649 for a home he left in October and $281 bill for his new place. "But I guess they had power, so they could print my bills. Nice, right?" . . .
LIPA also acknowledged that an outdated computer system for keeping customers notified has added to people's frustration.
But some say the government-run utility should have seen it coming. It was recently criticized in a withering state report for lax preparation ahead of last year's Hurricane Irene and for the 25-year-old computer system used to pinpoint outages and update customers. . . .

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Obama's head of the Small Business Administration has never heard anything about businesses cutting back on hours of workers because of Obamacare

Obama' head of the Small Business Administration, Karen Mills, had this amazing discussion on MSNBC.
Joe Scarborough: But we do hear from business owners, I am sure that you do to.  That are now contemplating after the election.  Certainly I hear from a lot saying: "Gosh, I am going to have to keep people under 30 hours. . . . It is only a matter of time before I go out of business.  I can't afford the cost of what this new regulation puts on me." First of all will you explain to us because we keep hearing: 30 hours, 30 hours.  Explain that cut off.  What do you tell those business owners?  Why are they wrong? 
Mills: You know, I travel all around the country, every week I go to a different part of the country. I'm with small businesses. And I'm not hearing that. 
Scarborough:  You have never heard that?   
Mills shaking her head "yes" and saying "I will tell you what I have heard."
Scarborough:  You need to talk to your staff to tell them to get you out of the bubble.
Mills: We are out there ever single day. 
Scarborough:  I don't mean to be short, but have you never heard that before? 
Mills: When I am out absolutely what small businesses want to do is grow their businesses.
Possibly, Ms. Mills should read some newspapers such as here and here.  Possibly she should watch the Daily Show here or Stephen Colbert's show here.

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Tim Allen: "Rather them than the government . . . You Better Give Your Money Away Before It Gets Taken from you"

Tim Allen closet conservative?

Allen apparently got some jokes in his TV show about the election, though ABC found it necessary to require some political balance.  How many shows have they invoked that rule in the past?  From the New York Post:
A rare Republican in Democrat-loving Hollywood — let alone in prime time — Allen delivers a comic smackdown in the season premiere of his ABC sitcom, “Last Man Standing.” . . .Allen said there are plenty of jokes aimed at Romney — because the network thought it was necessary to give the show some balance.
Salon notes: 
And yet, despite being superficially a show about a strident, forceful libertarian, “Last Man Standing” consistently preaches compromise. (In this way, “Last Man Standing,” a show that seems more conservative than it actually is . . .) 


Union political victories this November

From Fox News:
Aside from Obama’s re-election, there were few big victories for organized labor this year. 
Labor spent big to retain the governor’s mansion for Democrats in New Hampshire, thereby preventing the New England state from becoming the first in the region to ban compulsory union membership, as most southern states already do. 
In Michigan, unions got a split decision. While they succeeded in a ballot initiative to reverse a new law giving bankrupt cities that power to curb collective bargaining powers, the union-backed initiative to make collective bargaining part of the state constitution fell flat. 
By far the most important state issue for unions was Proposition 38 in California, where unions and Democratic allies spent an estimated $75 million to block a law that would have ended the practice where dues deducted from worker paychecks, including government workers, could be given to politicians and political causes. . . .
From the Detroit Free Press:
A calculated gamble by Michigan unions to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state constitution ended Tuesday in a resounding defeat.  Voters rejected Proposal 2 about 60%-40%, based on results from Free Press/WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) indicator precincts.
It was a bad night for organized labor, which also saw the defeat of Proposal 4, the home health care initiative backed by the Service Employees International Union.   
The outcome of a third union-backed effort, Proposal 1, which would repeal the state's toughened emergency manager law, was too close to call late Tuesday. But the repeal effort was ahead slightly, based on indicator precincts.   
Unions and their supporters put about $35 million into the three ballot initiatives, based on the most recent financial filings with the Michigan Secretary of State. In turn, business-backed groups spent more than $30 million in opposition. . . .
Note: Proposal 1 did pass.
While Governor Snyder’s desired outcome was almost identical to reality, he lost on the proposal he believed most important to the future of Michigan. 
Proposal 1 asked if the Michigan public wanted to retain Public Act 4 of 2011. The law has also been termed “The Emergency Managers Law”, a piece of legislation that would appoint someone from the state to correct the financial disaster in Detroit municipalities, including schools. The appointed officer would have the power to dissolve existing collective bargaining agreements, alter pension agreements, and sell public assets in attempts to save three major Michigan cities from going bankrupt: Detroit, River Rouge, and Inkster. . . .  
The results have left union workers in the Detroit area feeling victorious. Yet, with this latest rejection to repair the financially deprived areas in Michigan, many others are left wondering what will save Detroit.
Unions are awfully short sighted on this.  If a city is bankrupt, these contracts will be dissolved in any case.


Minnesota judge wants to be able to carry gun with him in court room

What could be the problem with some judges carrying concealed handguns?  This is especially true if carrying is kept a private matter.  Are criminals going to charge judges across 20 to 30 feet of open space on the off chance that they will be carrying and there might be a chance that the criminal will be able to obtain control of the gun?  Florida is one state that let's judges and others with the presiding judge's permission carry in the courtroom, and, of course, there have been no problems from this.  I know of one case where a judge showed a gun that he was carrying in Georgia, but it is hard to argue that there was an problem from that instance.  From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Telling colleagues and superiors that he fears a family law litigant, Anoka County Judge John Dehen wants to carry a gun into the courthouse. 
Earlier this year, Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill allowing prosecutors to carry a concealed weapon if they receive approval from their county attorney and a judge. One of the legislators who proposed the law wholeheartedly supports Dehen's efforts. 
"It would set a nice precedent if he was allowed to carry a gun in the courthouse," said Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder. "It would give some credence to the cause that courtrooms can be a dangerous place, and deputies aren't always in the courtroom." 
Dehen appears to be wading into uncharted legal waters by talking to the Anoka County Sheriff's Office, fellow judges and the district's chief judge about his desire to carry a weapon. 
Cmdr. Paul Sommer of the Sheriff's Office said they haven't decided whether Dehen can bring a gun into the courthouse, but strongly discouraged him from doing it, saying the courthouse already provides adequate security measures. Chief Judge John Hoffman of the 10th Judicial District asked Dehen for assurance that he wouldn't violate the 2003 court order that banned guns from the courthouse unless his request is approved. 
"I know he has talked to other judges, but I don't know the results," said Hoffman. . . .


A review of my son's performance in a play in Los Angeles that he was in


Oral arguments in Maryland Concealed Carry Case, 14 states now oppose requiring applicant give justification to carry handgun

An audio of the 4th Circuit oral arguments is available here.  A written discussion of the arguments is available here.  Maryland Shall Issue has this summary of the oral argument:
Remember, when they come up with excuses to avoid the question, it's because they won't like the answer. Gura was winning when the judge talked about anything but the merits of the ruling.

We're winning. The simple fact is that – based on the initial reports – the most anti-gun judge on the panel could not find a way to challenge the merits of this ruling. That has real meaning. I think he's probably seeking ways to leave open doors to restrictions. Even those will be tough. . . .
Generally, I thought that Alan Gura did a good job arguing here, especially in pointing out the Supreme Court decisions in Heller and McDonald on what the term bear means, but I thought that two of the judges seemed very hostile to Gura's argument.  All three of the judges were nominated by Democrats (Judge Robert B. King and Judge Andre M. Davis were nominated by Bill Clinton and Judge Albert Diaz was nominated by Obama).  The only small thing that I would have added is that there is more than a simple burden to produce evidence on the part of the applicant.  In this case, the "objective" standard could be so narrowly defined as to effectively ban virtually everyone from getting a permit. And in Maryland's case that seems to be what is happening.  The Washington Post has a story available here.

The beginning of the McDonald decision reads this way:

this Court held that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense and struck down a District of Columbia law that banned the possession of handguns in the home.
I missed this earlier, but Kansas added its name to the list of states that argue permit applicants shouldn't have to provide a justification for carrying concealed.
Kansas has joined 13 other states in supporting the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment by agreeing that people don’t need to show why they want a permit to carry a concealed firearm. 
Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Thursday he has added Kansas to a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the 4th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Richmond, Va. The appellate court is reviewing a decision by a Maryland district court that struck down a Maryland requirement that a person must show a reason for needing a concealed permit before one is issued. 
“Citizens who qualify to have a concealed carry permit should not be required to clear the further hurdle of showing the government why they need to have a firearm,” Schmidt said. “The Second Amendment protects the individual’s right to keep and bear arms and does not allow the government to demand to know the reason why.” . . .  
The other 13 states signing on with the brief are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia. 
A copy of the brief for the now 14 states is available here

UPDATE: Gura has unfortunately lost the case that he had in the 2nd Circuit.  Decision available here.

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What computers looked like 61 years ago

This was more like a glorified adding machine.  From Fox News:
The 61-year-old Harwell Dekatron — about the size and weight of an SUV — was originally hailed as a slow, steady machine capable of delivering error-free calculations while running for 90 hours a week. It has survived to become the oldest original working digital computer following the announcement of its completed restoration by The National Museum of Computing in the U.K. on Tuesday. . . . 
Running the computer requires about 1,500 watts of power — roughly equivalent to the power consumption of a modern hairdryer. By comparison, a laptop might use just 50 watts (1,000 watts being the equivalent of a kilowatt). . . .
Progress has produced increased efficiency.  This is a pattern that we see all the time.


Community College of Allegheny County slashes hours of 400 part-time workers to avoid Obamacare

Apparently it isn't just the "greedy" private for-profit companies that are cutting back employee hours.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has this story:
To Community College of Allegheny County's president, Alex Johnson, cutting hours for some 400 temporary part-time workers to avoid providing health insurance coverage for them under the impending Affordable Health Care Act is purely a cost-saving measure at a time the college faces a funding reduction. 
But to some of the employees affected, including 200 adjunct faculty members, the decision smacks of an attempt to circumvent the national health care legislation that goes into effect in January 2014. 
"It's kind of a double whammy for us because we are facing a legal requirement [under the new law] to get health care and if the college is reducing our hours, we don't have the money to pay for it," said Adam Davis, an adjunct professor who has taught biology at CCAC since 2005. 
Temporary part-time employees received an email notice from Mr. Johnson on Tuesday informing them that the new health care act defines full-time employees as those working 30 hours or more per week. 
As a result, the college as of Dec. 31 will reduce temporary part-time employee hours to 25 per week. For adjuncts, the workload limit will be reduced from 12 to 10 credits per semester. . . .

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OxyContin use down, but at what cost?

So which is worse?  Oxycontin or Heroin?

Efforts to make OxyContin harder to abuse have succeeded in Vermont, the top state police drug investigator says. But that has come with one notable consequence: Addicts have been switching to an older scourge: heroin. 
Statistics provide a glimpse of Vermont’s growing heroin problems. Deaths attributed in whole or in part to heroin overdoses averaged fewer than three a year from 2004 to 2010. There were nine such deaths last year, and six this year, according to figures from the state Health Department. . . . .


Mandating Health Insurance has to provide a lot of benefits

Mandating more benefits than people benefit makes consumers worse off.  Not everyone wants to get Cadillac plans.
The proposed rules, issued more than two and a half years after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, had been delayed as the administration tried to avoid stirring criticism from lobbyists and interest groups in the final weeks of the presidential campaign. . . . 
The proposed rules go beyond informal guidance issued by the administration last December, most notably by requiring more comprehensive coverage of prescription drugs.Administration officials originally suggested that insurers would have to cover at least one drug in each therapeutic class. The new rules will, in many states, require insurers to cover two or more drugs in each class. 
Stephen E. Finan, a health economist at the lobbying arm of the American Cancer Society, said, “The proposed rule is an improvement over the bulletin issued last year, but still does not guarantee that cancer patients will have access to all the major cancer drugs they need.” . . . 
In the 2008 campaign, Mr. Obama said he would lower annual premiums by $2,500 per family by the end of his first term. But after a quick look at the proposed rules on Tuesday, Ms. Ignagni said she was concerned that “many families and small businesses will be required to purchase coverage that is more costly than they have today.” . . .


Cleveland man defends himself against knife wielding intruder in his home

From Cleveland, Ohio:
A Cleveland man, sleeping on his couch, woke up to sounds of someone breaking into his back door. 
He told police he grabbed a handgun and when he went to check it out, he found himself face to face with an intruder inside his house holding a knife. He fired one shot. The intruder ran through the back door and made it to the driveway where he collapsed and died. 
Cleveland Police were called to the scene around 7:30 Wednesday morning . . . .


Bernanke describes how bad the labor market is


Leno: "Good News For The Economy, President Obama Is Out Of Town"

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Use of false email address "triggered an inadvertent ruckus" for head of EPA

Does this sound like Politico is running interference for the Obama administration?  Could the Obama administration please explain how this fits in with his pledge of transparency?
EPA officials say the agency wasn’t trying to hide anything by giving Administrator Lisa Jackson a secondary email address to use when corresponding with other government officials. 
But the name she chose to use — “Richard Windsor” — has triggered an inadvertent ruckus for an agency already under fire from conservatives. 
The name came from that of a family dog when Jackson lived in East Windsor Township, N.J., an EPA official said Tuesday. 
The seemingly cryptic name has spawned a host of accusatory news reports and questions from lawmakers in recent days, all of them implying that Jackson was trying to dodge congressional oversight and public records laws by using a “private” email account under a fake name. . . .
A related story is available from The Hill newspaper here:
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) accused the Obama administration on Tuesday of shielding possible discussions on a carbon tax from the public. 
Vitter, a top Republican on the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner alleging the administration is hammering out details for a carbon tax proposal. 
Vitter questioned Treasury’s denial of a Freedom of Information Act request from the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank. The think tank sued Treasury last week for not releasing emails from the agency’s Office of Energy and Environment that contained the word “carbon.” . . . 

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No health insurance exchange, no subsidies, no employer mandate

If no state health care exchange is set up, does that mean there will be no health care subsidies under Obamacare?  If so, it seems pretty clear that without subsidies  there is no employer mandate.  The Hill newspaper on Sunday described this whole debate this way:
The push to resist state exchanges is driven in part by the hope that a long-shot lawsuit will derail federal subsidies to help people pay for private insurance. Oklahoma filed the suit, which argues that subsidies can only flow through state-based exchanges, not a federally run fallback. If that argument succeeds in the courts, only a few states will have functional exchanges and the law’s coverage expansion will be eviscerated. . . .
A lot is at stake in that series of links.  The Obama administration does not want to test this theory and apparently knew that a lot of states weren't going to setup their health insurance exchanges so they gave a one month extension until December.  Well, if they can't force states to adopt these exchanges, eliminating the employer mandate may cause a lot of firms to move to states without the exchanges.

Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic has this:

. . . But some states with conservative leaders and lawmakers are refusing to create exchanges. Obamacare anticipates this possibility: When state officials opt not to create their own exchanges, the federal government steps in and does the job for them. But Obamacare critics think they’ve found a way to undermine that effort, because of some ambiguity in the text of the law: It says very clearly that the federal government can set up exchanges in lieu of the states, but the language is a little fuzzy when it comes to whether the federal government can also offer subsidies through those exchanges. 
Michael Cannon . . . has been pointing this out for months. In July, he published a paper with Jonathan Adler, of Case Western Law School, arguing that federal attempts to offer subsidies through the exchanges would actually be unconstitutional. Oklahoma has filed a lawsuit in federal court making the same argument. On Monday, conservative intellectuals James Capretta and Yuval Levin raised this argument in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. . . . 
As a legal matter, the argument strikes me as even more preposterous than the original lawsuits challenging the law. No sentient being following the health care debate could argue, in good faith, that Obamacare’s architects intended for the federal government to set up exchanges without subsidies. . . . .
I am not sure that unconstitutional is the right term here.  It seems like an issue of simple statutory interpretation.  I would also like to believe that intent of a law isn't enough if the law is not written properly.  Jonathan Adler and Michael Cannon dealt with what happens when states don't set up exchanges in a November 2011 WSJ piece.  Cohn doesn't really address their point that the law is clear regardless of what Democrats meant the law to read.
. . . ObamaCare authorizes premium assistance in state-run exchanges (Section 1311) but not federal ones (Section 1321). In other words, states that refuse to create an exchange can block much of ObamaCare's spending and practically force Congress to reopen the law for revisions.
The Obama administration wants to avoid that legislative debacle, so this summer it proposed an IRS rule to offer premium assistance in all exchanges "whether established under section 1311 or 1321." . . .  [But the] text of the law is perfectly clear. And without congressional authorization, the IRS lacks the power to dispense tax credits or spend money.What about congressional intent? Law professor Timothy Jost suggests that since ObamaCare requires all exchanges to report information about premium assistance, and it would be silly to impose that requirement on federal exchanges if their enrollees were not eligible, that shows Congress could not have intended anything but to provide assistance in federal exchanges. At least, he argues, there's enough ambiguity here about Congress's intent that federal courts will permit the administration to resolve it.. . . The Supreme Court has increasingly limited such deference to cases where the text of the law—rather than Congress's intent—is ambiguous. In this case the language of the law is clear, as even Mr. Jost admits.The health law's authors in Congress deliberately chose to pass the bill with known imperfections and to use the reconciliation process to make only limited amendments. Writing a perfect bill would have required too many votes and risked failure. . . . .
See also Adler and Cannon's paper here.  Jost's response to Adler and Cannon is shown next.  It seems to me that Jost is wrong, but there is enough smoke here that a sympathetic judge could find whatever he wants.
The term “exchange” is a defined term under the ACA, a point that Mr. Cannon does not mention in his article but that would surely be paid great attention by the courts.  Section 1563(b) of the ACA states: “The term ‘Exchange’ means an American Health Benefit Exchange established under section 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”   Section 1311 literally requires that the states “shall” establish an American Health Benefits Exchange by January 1, 2014.  Because the Constitution prohibits the federal government from literally requiring states to establish exchanges,  however, section 1321(c), provides that “the [HHS] Secretary shall (directly or through agreement with a not-for-profit entity) establish and operate such Exchange within the State.”  Under the ACA’s definition of exchange, the term “Exchange” in section 1321 means a section 1311 exchange.  This is reinforced by section 1321 itself, in which the term “such Exchange,” refers to the “required exchange” mentioned in section 1321(c)(1)(B)(i), which is to say the 1311 exchange.  When section 1321 directs HHS to establish an “Exchange,” therefore, it means to establish a section 1311 exchange, which section 36B authorizes to provide premium tax credits.  Moreover, section 1311(d)(1) defines an exchange as an exchange established by the state, therefore by definition a section 1321 federally facilitated exchange is an exchange established by a state under section 1311. 
Section 36B is not the only section of the ACA that imposes duties on the state and federal exchanges relevant to premium tax credits.  Section 1311(d)(4)(G) requires exchanges to provide their enrollees with premium calculators that include a deduction for premium tax credits.  Section 1311(d)(4)(I), requires exchanges to forward to the IRS information about enrollees who are eligible for premium subsidies.  Section 1311(d)(4)(J), requires an exchange to notify employers if their employees are receiving premium tax credits.  Finally, section 1413 requires state and federal exchanges to use streamlined applications and eligibility assessments to help people qualify for “health subsidy programs,” which programs specifically include premium tax credits, see section 1413(e)(1).  All of these sections apply to federal as well as state exchanges. . . . 
The House bill contained only a federal exchange.  Section 1004 of HCERA adds to IRC section 36B, subsection 36B(f)(3) which requires both 1311 and 1321 exchanges to  provide certain information regarding premium tax credits to the IRS and to taxpayers.  Cannon and Adler admit the existence of this provision but simply say it is meaningless, as 1321 exchanges cannot authorize premium tax credits. . . .
I think that Jost's last sentence misdescribes what Adler and Cannon are saying.  Here is Adler and Cannon's point in their paper (pp. 27-28).
While PPACA supporters in the House and Senate closely scrutinized and repeatedly amended Section 1401 through the HCERA, they left intact the provisions restricting eligibility for tax credits to taxpayers purchasing coverage through state-run Exchanges.  Finally, even if all of the foregoing evidence demonstrating that section 1401 accurately reflects congressional intent did not exist, PPACA supporters’ actions reveal that their intent was indeed to enact a bill that restricts tax credits to state-run Exchanges. Professor Timothy Jost argues the provisions restricting tax credits to state-run Exchanges “clearly say what Congress clearly did not mean.”91 The reality is that the statute clearly says what its authors meant. . . .
From Capretta and Levin's piece makes a similar point to Adler and Cannon:
Congress didn't allocate money for administering federal exchanges, and the law as written seems to prohibit federally run exchanges from providing subsidies to individuals. The administration insists that it can provide those subsidies anyway. But if the courts read the plain words of the statute, then federal exchanges couldn't really function. 
Thus states that refuse to create their own exchanges would effectively be repealing a large part of the law—sparing their citizens from the job-killing employer mandate and from assaults on their religious liberty. In some cases people would even be spared from the individual mandate to buy coverage, since in the absence of exchange subsidies more families would qualify for exemptions from the mandate. . . . 
In refusing the Medicaid expansion, governors should notify Washington that doing so means freeing themselves of ObamaCare's "Maintenance of Effort" requirements. These would prohibit states participating in the Medicaid expansion from reforming their Medicaid systems to reduce costs. . . .
Cohn seems to believe that opposition to Obamacare proves "Republicans didn’t care about the financial struggles of poor or middle class Americans." Possibly he might consider that Republicans are worried that the whole health care system might be messed up as a result of these regulations.

Here is the claim that as of right now there are 17,000 plus pages of Obamacare regulations and they are reportedly only one third of the way through.

UPDATE: Even the left wing TPM has to acknowledge the obvious here.
There is, however, a complication in the administration’s fallback option: the money. The law fails to specify a set funding mechanism for a federally-established state exchange. So HHS would have to find the money in its budget or request additional funds through the regular appropriations process. And Congressional Republicans may be motivated to block that money in their efforts to derail the Affordable Care Act. . . . .  
In the long run, of course, the GOP quandary remains whether to utilize the available resources in the best interest of the states they govern or to try and botch federal implementation in an effort to make President Obama’s signature accomplishment look like a failure.
I think that Obamacare is going to be a disaster.  Republicans generally have to ask themselves whether Democrats should be the ones that bear primary blame for the problems created by the regulations.

UPDATE: The list of states that have rejected the state-based insurance exchange.  Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has this:
"Though I am a steady advocate of local control, I have come to the conclusion that the State of Arizona would wield little actual authority over its ‘state’ Exchange," Brewer said. "The federal government would maintain oversight and control over virtually every aspect of our Exchange, limiting our ability to meet the unique needs of Arizonans and the Arizona insurance market." . . .


Judge: Religious freedom doesn't protect firms from providing for abortion coverage

It would be nice if you could get out of government regulations because you thought that they were immoral, but you can definitely understand why some people would be upset to pay for abortion coverage.  From Fox News:
. . . In a 28-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton denied a request by Hobby Lobby to prevent the government from enforcing portions of the health care law mandating insurance coverage for contraceptives the company's Christian owners consider objectionable. 
The Oklahoma City-based company and a sister company, Mardel Inc., sued the government in September, claiming the mandate violates the owners' religious beliefs. The owners contend the morning-after and week-after birth control pills are tantamount to abortion because they can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman's womb. They also object to providing coverage for certain kinds of intrauterine devices. . . . 
In his ruling denying Hobby Lobby's request for an injunction, Heaton said that while churches and other religious organizations have been granted constitutional protection from the birth-control provisions, "Hobby Lobby and Mardel are not religious organizations." 
"Plaintiffs have not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that secular, for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion," the ruling said. . . .


WSJ: Have regulations and lawsuits made playgrounds "too safe" for kids?

Have safe playgrounds created phobias, stunting development, impacted learning ability, and lead to childhood obesity?  Kids not challenged, bored by today's playgrounds?  The obesity argument is that boring playgrounds discourage kids from using them.  Europe is ahead of the US in adding risks to playgrounds.
Some child-development experts and parents say decades of dumbed-down playgrounds, fueled by fears of litigation, concerns about injury and worrywart helicopter parents, have led to cookie-cutter equipment that offers little thrill. The result, they say, is that children are less compelled to play outside, potentially stunting emotional and physical development and exacerbating a nationwide epidemic of childhood obesity.
Some psychologists suggest that not exposing children to risk can result in increases in anxiety and other phobias. Children who never climb trees, for example, are more likely to develop a fear of heights, according to a study in Norway. And encouraging free play, in an age of structured activities and computer games, is believed to be important in helping children develop physical and cognitive competencies, creativity and self-worth. . . .
I can explain why Utah is at the forefront of setting up more innovative playgrounds.  Hint: it is related to family size.  See Freedomnomics. 

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Surprise: Big surge in positive news coverage for Obama during last week of campaign

From the Washington Post:
Now for something that will surprise not one bit of the mass of mainstream media critics out there. A study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has found that President Obama enjoyed a “surge” in positive coverage over the last week of his campaign against Mitt Romney. 
From the study: 
"During this final week, from October 29 to November 5, positive stories about Obama (29%) outnumbered negative ones (19%) by 10 points. A week earlier, negative coverage of Obama had exceeded positive by 13 points. The final week of the campaign marked only the second time in which positive stories about Obama outnumbered negative dating back to late August."
So how did Romney fare during this period? Negative stories drubbed positive ones, according to the researchers, by a margin of 33 percent to 16 percent. . . .

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Defensive Gun Use: "'Robber' shot dead by man he tried to stick up with a knife at drive-through ATM"

Another example of someone with a concealed carry permit defending themselves from Seminole County, Florida.
. . . When the two robbers drew their knives, the victim pulled out a handgun and shot Slivinksy twice. Slivinski was taken to a local hospital, where he died.   
Harvey ran off after the shooting but a tipster led deputies to him soon after.   
Harvey was arrested Saturday afternoon and now faces attempted armed robbery and murder charges. 
Police say the murder charge was added because robbery attempt contributed to Slivinski's death.   
The unnamed ATM customer will not face charges in the shooting. 
Harvey and Slivinski both have criminal histories. . . .
Thanks to Tony Troglio for the link.

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More on Romney's comment about Obama using government largess to buy votes

I am not sure how saying that Obama was using government money to buy votes is the same thing as saying that you aren't contesting for people's votes.  I can say that I understand the president is trying to buy votes, but if I offer policies to create growth, voters might be willing to forgo the government money.  Possibly there is a better way to express the point that Romney made, but that seems to me to be a different point.  Former Texas Senator Phil Gramm used to talk about people pulling the wagon versus those in the wagon.  Would Gramm have gotten reprimanded nowadays if he had said that it is hard to win an election with so many people "in the wagon"?  If Gramm's way of phrasing things is still acceptable, why aren't these Republican politicians below more constructive in their criticism?  Or is this just an issue of Republican politicians seeing a chance to get publicity?
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) criticized Republican candidates on Sunday for making comments he said alienated voters and cost the party the presidency and key Senate seats.
"We don't need to demonize, and we also don't need to be saying stupid things," Jindal, the new chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said on "Fox News Sunday."
He singled out Republican Senate candidates Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana, saying their controversial comments on rape and abortion cost Republicans Senate seats and dragged down the party nationally.
Jindal also denounced Mitt Romney's recent comment to donors that President Obama was able to win reelection by giving "gifts" to key voting groups."I absolutely reject what he said. Look, we as the Republican Party have to campaign for every single vote," Jindal said. . . . .
Senator Lindsey Graham made a similar point:
[Graham] on Sunday blasted Republican nominee Mitt Romney's assertion that Democratic "gifts" to minorities had helped them win the election.
"We’re in a big hole, we’re not getting out of it by comments like that," Graham said on NBC's “Meet the Press.” “When you’re in a hole, stop digging. He keeps digging.”
In a Wednesday call with donors, Romney cited Obama’s healthcare reform law and executive order stopping the deportation of some illegal immigrants as “gifts” which motivated voters to back the president. . . . .
The "self-deportation" comment by Romney could also have been a mistake with Hispanics, especially those here illegally, but is Romney's point about vote buying really wrong?

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Did Obama EPA department hide information by using private email accounts?

Could it be used to legally challenge the regulations that are issued if it implies that the proper process wasn't used to implement regulations?  So will the Obama administration speak out on whether they disapprove of this activity?  From The Hill:
Republicans on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee have launched a probe into whether Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson has been conducting official business using secret email accounts.The lawmakers said the practice may violate transparency and record-keeping laws. . . .
"The use of these accounts could seriously impair records collection, preservation, and access, therefore compromising transparency and oversight," the Republicans wrote in a letter to Jackson.
The lawmakers demanded that Jackson turn over all records related to "Richard Windsor" and all other aliases used by senior EPA officials. . . .

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