3/01/2013

7 year old boy suspended for having shaping is food to look like a gun

More craziness is here:
Josh Welch is a seven-year-old-boy who attends Park Elementary School in Brooklyn Park. The Maryland school has a breakfast “snack time” and provided pastries on Friday. Josh was trying to turn his pastry into a shape. Josh chewed his breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun and was suspended for two days.
Josh had his parents called into the school after the teacher took away his half-eaten breakfast pastry. Josh told Fox Baltimore he was trying to shape the pastry into a mountain, but it looked more like a gun. Regardless of the shape the child was trying to make, the pastry was still simply food and could not actually harm anyone. . . . .

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France is regretting its 75% marginal income tax rate

The Financial Times has this story:

France’s Socialist government is considering replacing its stricken 75 per cent top income tax rate on earnings above €1m, with a 65-66 per cent rate on households earning more than €2m.
The proposed new rate is working its way through the National Assembly as part of budget measures aimed at redressing France’s growing public deficit.
But it has come under fire from Christian Eckert, the Socialist head of the assembly’s budget committee, who said it did not fulfil President François Hollande’s emblematic manifesto promise.
In an interview with Le Monde newspaper published on Friday, Mr Eckert said: “It seems to me that we are in danger of losing two symbols: that of incomes above €1m and that of the 75 per cent rate, which will be dropped to 65-66 per cent.”
The finance ministry has neither confirmed nor denied the proposed new rate.
Mr Hollande’s 75 per cent rate was struck down by the constitutional council on New Year’s eve, just before it was due to come into force. It said it was unfair to apply the rate to individuals, not households, as is the norm under French income tax rules. . . .

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Issues with a Washington Post Poll that claims: "77 percent of Maryland residents who bought a gun in the past 10 years say they went through a background check"

According to the Washington Post article, 81% say that they bought a gun at a traditional gun store, but fewer, 77 percent, say that they had a background check.  Even if only half bought their guns through dealers at gun shows (4.5 percent and that is undoubtedly extremely conservative since my understanding is that the gun shows in Maryland don't even let you have a table unless you are a registered dealer), that leaves a big gap between people buying from places where we would know that they would have to have background checks and those who say that they have had a check.  81% + 4.5% would imply at least 85.5% would be in places where they would have for sure had checks, and presumably even a couple of the 10 percent who bought the guns elsewhere would have had to get checks.

From the Washington Post story:
In the new poll, 77 percent of Maryland residents who bought a gun in the past 10 years say they went through a background check; 21 percent say they did not. (Given the rarity of Marylanders purchasing guns, there is a sizable 11.5 percentage point error margin for the results among this group.)
The vast majority of buyers — 81 percent — say they made their purchase at a traditional gun store rather than a gun show (9 percent) or somewhere else (10 percent). The poll finds little correlation between location of purchase and undergoing a background check. . . .
UPDATE: Glenn Kessler was nice enough to email back and forth with me on this issue.  The WP pollster responded this way:
Your researcher’s intuition is correct, but I think slicing up the data this finely goes a little beyond the capabilities of the survey. Just over 100 gun buyers were interviewed, only 8 of whom bought from a gun show. I think the survey alone is not sufficient to conclude that there’s widespread shirking of background checks at places where they are required.    
The underlying notion is correct—some survey respondents report buying guns from traditional gun stores without background checks, and gun show and private sales don’t account for the 21 percent who report no background check. As we note in the article, “it’s not clear the people  who say they didn’t undergo background checks broke the law. The survey asked about gun buying experiences over a 10-year period, so respondent recall may be an issue. The point precision is also not exact, given the relatively small number of Marylanders who say they have purchased a gun in the past decade.”    
We are working to understand these numbers deeper, and will hopefully understand better any possible issues with recall or exemptions (law enforcement officers and military/vets are exempted from some background checks). 
This is how I responded:
Thanks very much, Glenn, though I don't think that answers my question.  I am not so much trying to get into what individual categories are as seeing whether the two totals should be somewhat roughly the same.  I am really just saying that the number of purchases through FFLs has to be significantly above 81%.  I was just trying to motivate with a simple example how much it has to be above 81%, not that I was trying to breakdown the components.  Either these stores or places didn't have checks and broke the law or people didn't understand that they were having checks done or after up to 10 years they don't really remember whether a check was done.  I have a hard time believing that the first option is true.  The results indicate to me that they are significantly biased towards making the number of sales without background checks look larger than they are. Do I have permission to share this response?  Thank you very much. 
My biggest concern about the survey is how long of a period that people are asked about purchasing guns over.

I know that shorter time period reduces sample size a lot, but my biggest concern is the 10 year time window.  All the surveys that I have been involved with indicates to me that the error rate in answers increases dramatically once you go back more than one year (possibly like what we were discussing below).  If you ask people about more than a year you will start getting them including purchases outside that window and you will also tend to get more unusual events simply because people are more likely to quickly recall very unusual events when they are suddenly asked about them.

One obvious example involves defensive gun uses.  The bigger the window that you ask people about the greater the share of defensive uses will involve people firing their gun. 

In the case of purchases, the buying of a gun is probably a much more memorable event than whether there was a background check.  People will remember the purchases, but not remember whether there was a background check that went along with it.

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David Kopel might be in some trouble regarding his congressional testimony because he forget to tell people he got over $100K a year from NRA

Obviously this is a hit piece, but it still may damage his ability to testify in the future, mainly because he apparently didn't tell people on the Hill about this.
One witness, David Kopel, who testified on January 30, identified at the hearing as a law school adjunct professor, received more than $108,000 in grants from the NRA’s Civil Rights Defense Fund in 2011. Another witness, David T. Hardy, testifying Wednesday as a private attorney in Tucson, Arizona, received $67,500 in grants from the same NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund in 2011. . . .
I wonder whether this will also effect his ability to write op-ed pieces on gun issues.  Remember the problems that Jonathan Gruber got in for not acknowledging the money that he was getting from the Obama administration.  The WSJ would have required Gruber to note in his op-ed pieces that he was getting $400,000 total from the Obama administration.  Kopel getting $100,000 a year for many years seems like it should have also been listed.

Do I believe that Kopel changed his views for $100,000 a year?  No, of course not, but again the problem is that Kopel apparently didn't tell Republican staff whether he had any conflicts of interest.

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2/28/2013

Obama and Senate Democrats solution to Sequester?: Increase government spending by $62.4 billion, raise taxes by $55.1 billion, raise the deficit by $7.2 billion!

How can anyone take the Democrats seriously?  Their offer to replace the sequester cuts is to increase government spending and the deficit.  Obama supports the Democratic Senate alternative.
CBO estimates that S. 388 would increase direct spending by $62.4 billion and revenues by $55.1 billion over the 2013–2023 period. Thus, the cumulative deficit would increase by $7.2 billion from those changes.
Obama has been critical of what he claims is a "meat cleaver" approach to cutting the deficit.  But his solution is to increase the deficit.  His offer to Republicans who are trying to cut the deficit is to increase it.

UPDATE: IBD claims that Obama's own proposal is even worse, though as they point out the plan has been well hidden.

. . . Turns out, Obama did have one [though he] . . . hasn't exactly been promoting this so-called plan. . . .
There are no details, for example, about the $200 billion in cuts to defense and domestic discretionary programs, other than that Obama wants them split evenly.
And while he offers $400 billion in "health savings," 30% are lumped in a bucket labeled "other."
Worse, Obama's "balanced" plan actually counts hundreds of billions of new revenues from taxes, fees and rebates as "spending reductions." Examples:
• His plan to "strengthen" unemployment insurance is labeled as a cut, but it's really a $50 billion tax hike.
• The $35 billion from the federal worker retirement programs involves boosting worker contributions.
• Most of the $35 billion in Medicare savings comes from charging wealthy seniors more.
• The $140 billion in "reduced payments to drug companies" are in fact rebates Obama wants drugmakers to pay Uncle Sam for selling drugs to poor seniors.
• Then there's the $45 billion in spectrum fees and asset sales that Obama lists as spending reductions.
Viewed correctly, it turns out that more than $300 billion — about a third — of Obama's proposed "spending cuts" are actually revenue increases. . . .

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The complete video of my appearance on Piers Morgan's CNN show last night



The interview that went from about 9:12 to 9:30 PM ET started off reasonably enough, but it quickly devolved into a mess.  The problems started when Piers began realizing that he was losing the debate.  At that point he started raising his voice and talking over me.


Erik Wemple at the Washington Post has a discussion of the appearance that starts this way:

CNN last night showed a sense of humor as Piers Morgan battled with gun-rights proponent John Lott (“More Guns, Less Crime“) on the fine points of mass shootings and their prevention. A chyron hit the screen repeating a question that Lott had posed: 
“Lott: Why am I on?” . . .  
Morgan’s high point came at the very end of the segment, when he was bidding adieu to Lott:
MORGAN: Mr. Lott, thank you for joining me again. I look forward to talking to you again about this. As you know, I disagree with you passionately. But I respect your right to have your opinion.
Bolded text added to highlight Morgan’s brilliant linguistic precision. Lott is free to have his opinion, just not express it on his show.

The Blaze has a discussion available here, News Busters available here, and the Washington Times available here
CNN host Piers Morgan on Wednesday repeatedly talked over guest John Lott Jr., who was trying to present and correct several myths and misstatements about gun facts, ultimately telling him: “I’m going to keep talking so I suggest you keep quiet.” . . . 

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Fox Business: "President Distorting the Facts in Sequestration, Gun Control Debates?"


The video of my appearance with Lou Dobbs is available here.

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2/26/2013

Illinois moves forward with what looks to be the most restrictive concealed handgun law in the country

Nationally, the average right-to-carry state requires 5 hours of training and a $65 permit fee.  Illinois will require 8 hours and $80.  Illinois will have neither the longest training nor the highest fees, but the state will have probably by far the most extensive.  The newspaper the Pantagraph has this:
Under the legislation, licensees would be barred from carrying weapons into nearly all government buildings, including schools and universities, as well as prisons, mental hospitals and amusement parks. Bars, taverns, sports stadiums and casinos also would be listed as no-gun zones.
Business owners also would get to choose whether to allow concealed weapons on their premises. . . .
The bans are much broader than the list would first appear from the list in the newspapers.  Bans not only encompass these places, but often include phrases such as "close proximity" or nearby or adjacent property or parking lots. As one member of the state House correctly noted:
"When they get done with this, you won't be able to carry anywhere," said Rep. David Reis, R-Willow Hill, expressing a frustration among many gun rights advocates as they watched restrictions get piled on. . . . 

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Massive vote fraud barely foiled in Florida

One strong reason to crack down on absentee voting.
South Florida election officials have reportedly foiled a plot to fraudulently apply online for thousands of absentee ballots in three 2012 primaries, but the masterminds remain at large amid concern that they could be successful the next time around by making minor adjustments.
Officials in the state’s Miami-Dade region said they blocked the effort to get 2,552 absentee ballots in three August primaries because the requests rolled in just minutes apart on July 7, 2012, according to The Miami Herald, which conducted its own investigation. . . .
The absentee ballots still would have gone to the rightful voters. So short of stealing ballots from mailbox, the hackers’ only way to have swayed or flipped the voters would likely have been to inundate them with calls and mailers. . . .

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Note on New Zealand's long gun registry

Concealed carry moving forward slowly in Illinois

You can watch the debate as the Democrats are loading the concealed carry bill with tons of amendments here.

It seems to me that proponents of the bill would like to see it defeated and have a judge write it up.
Having been ordered by a federal court to institute a concealed carry system for gun owners in Illinois, the state Legislature today has started debating a bill that would do just that – but with dozens of restrictions. 
House floor debate is underway over the concealed carry bill, HB1155 – or rather, over the first of 27 different amendments attached to the bill, most of them seeking to restrict carrying weapons in places like government buildings, hospitals, museums, amusement parks and on public transportation. . . .

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Michelle Obama misuses the term "automatic weapon"

Why do all these extremely well trained smart lawyers keep on calling semi-automatic guns "automatic weapons"?  From the Washington Examiner:
In an interview with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts aired this morning, First Lady Michelle Obama recalled the tragic death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton who was shot and killed in Chicago after performing during the President’s Inauguration celebration in Washington D.C. 
“She was caught in the line of fire because some kids had some automatic weapons they didn’t need,” the First Lady explained. “I just don’t want to keep disappointing our kids in this country. I want them to know that we put them first.” . . .
ABC Good Morning America edited out Michelle Obama's statement about "automatic weapons."

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Growth in concealed handgun permits: Florida has 1,019,866 permit holders, Utah has 411,604

Florida had 1,019,866 permit holders as of the end of January 31, 2013. That is quite an increase from the 887,000 permits in December 31, 2011 -- a 132,866 or 15% increase.

Arizona saw an increase from 163,000 to 182,813 going from December 31, 2011 to February 24, 2013.   That is  a 19,813 permit increase.

Arkansas saw an increase from 111,000 to 130,041 going from December 31, 2011 to January 28, 2013.   That is  a 19,041 permit increase.

Colorado saw an increase from 90,000 to 139,560 going from December 31, 2011 to December 31, 2012.   That is a 49,560 permit increase.


Indiana saw an increase from 406,000 to 449,025 (obtained from David R. Bursten, Captain Commander, Public Information Section, Indiana State Police) going from December 31, 2011 to January 11, 2013.   That is a 49,560 permit increase.


Kansas saw an increase from 39,000 to 62,557 going from December 31, 2011 to February 24, 2013.   That is  a 23,557 permit increase.

Kentucky saw an increase from 170,000 to 216,463 going from December 31, 2011 to December 31, 2012.   That is a 46,463 permit increase.

Michigan saw an increase from 296,000 to 455,663 going from December 31, 2011 to February 4, 2013.   That is a 159,663 permit increase.

Minnesota saw an increase from 91,000 to 119,574 going from December 31, 2011 to January 31, 2013.   That is a 28,574 permit increase.

Missouri saw an increase from 133,000 to 160,184 going from December 31, 2011 to January 31, 2013.   That is a 27,184 permit increase.

Ohio saw an increase from 270,000 to 313,718 going from December 31, 2011 to June 30, 2012.

Tennessee saw an increase from 341,000 to 390,343 going from December 31, 2011 to February 7, 2013.   That is a 27,184 permit increase.

Texas had 584,850 permits on December 31, 2012, up from 519,000 a year earlier.  That is 65,850 more permits or a 13 percent increase.

Utah had 411,604 on December 31, 2012, up from 347,000 a year earlier.  That is 64,604 more permits or a 19 percent increase.

Just these Fourteen states represent an increase of 773,261 permits.  When you consider that permit data isn't available for Alabama, New Hampshire, and New York and that permits aren't even required for Arizona, Alaska, virtually of Montana, Vermont and Wyoming it is clear that the total here is well above 9 million (8 million at the end of 2011).  Just Alabama by itself probably has well over 400,000 permit holders.  So say we are extremely conservatively saying 9.3 million.  I estimate that there were fewer than 1.3 million permits in 1997 and about 4.6 million permits in 2007.

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Student threatened with suspension for wearing Marines T-shirt with picture of two rifles on it

Can't school officials differentiate a picture of a rifle on a T-shirt honoring the Marines and a real gun that threatens people?  Of course they can.  This is just an attempt to terrify students about guns.  From Fox News:
An Illinois father wants a school district to reconsider its dress code after his son was asked to remove a U.S. Marines T-shirt or be suspended, FoxNews.com has learned. 
Daniel McIntyre, 44, of Genoa, told FoxNews.com that his 14-year-old son, Michael, was asked to remove the T-shirt by eighth-grade teacher Karen Deverell during reading class at Genoa-Kingston Middle School on Monday. Deverell, citing the school’s dress code, said the garment’s interlocking rifles was problematic and had to be removed from sight, McIntyre said. 
“My son is very proud of the Marines, and, in fact, of all the services,” McIntyre said. “So he wears it with pride. There are two rifles crossed underneath the word ‘Marines’ on the shirt, but to me that should be overlooked. It’s more about the Marines instead of the rifles.” . . .

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The Hill newspaper: "Obama using fake Twitter messages in fight over gun control"? Apparently Obama's former digital strategist, Brad Schenck is involved

Obama's former digital strategist, Brad Schenck is apparently involved in the use of the pseudonym's.  From The Hill newspaper:
"Obama's anti-gun campaign is a fraud," [Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas)] said. "Obama's supporters are panicking and willing to do anything to create the appearance of popular support, even if it means trying to defraud Congress," he added. "I call upon the president to denounce this phony spam campaign." 
Stockman said that in response to Obama's call for people to tweet their congressman in support of gun control legislation, he received just 16 tweets. But he said all of these messages were identical, and that a closer look at them revealed that only six were from real people. 
"The other 10 are fake, computer-generated spambots," his office said in a press release. As evidence, he said these 10 tweets use default graphics and names, and have not engaged in any interaction with other people. Two of the tweets were sent at nearly the same time, and both follow just one person: Brad Schenck, Obama's former digital strategist. . . . .

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Mention of my new book "At the Brink" in the Washington Times

From today's Washington Times:
A LOTT TO THINK ABOUT 
It could prove a handbook, perhaps, for the next few months. “At the Brink: Will Obama Push Us Over the Edge?” written by economist John R. Lott and published by Regnery provides a sobering assessment of what President Obama has done, and intends to do with America in his second term, prompting the author to declare that the U.S. economy hangs in the balance, not to mention liberty. 
He parses dubious stimulus plans, the debt monster, Obamacare, gun control, assorted scandals and offers some pointers for Congress. 
“There is a growing awareness in the United States of the mounting debt problem, and opinion polls show increasing acceptance of budget cuts. But Barack Obama wants to raise taxes to redistribute wealth, not to reduce the deficit. Our country, in short, is in trouble. Can we pull ourselves back from the brink? Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I believe that in America, facts can change minds,” Mr. Lott says. “And the facts are overwhelmingly lined up against Barack Obama.”

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New piece in Investors' Business Daily: "Obama's Sequester Cuts Are A Mere 1% Of Budget"

My new piece starts this way:
President Obama is almost breathless predicting "devastating" consequences if the sequester trigger is pulled. 
He warns the cuts "will hurt our economy ... add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls. ... The unemployment rate might tick up again." 
But will a $44 billion cut in spending out of a $3.8 trillion budget, a mere 1%, really be a "meat cleaver approach" that will "eviscerate" government programs? 
Obama frightens people by pretending that the $1 trillion cut takes place right away rather than being spread out over 10 years. 
He has taken almost every possible position on spending and taxes. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama continually promised to "cut net spending" and make government smaller. The stimulus was promised not to "raise projected deficits beyond a short horizon of a year or at most two." . . . .

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2/25/2013

Senate Judiciary Committee to mark up gun control bills on Thursday

From Politico:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has released a series of gun-violence preventions bills — including a controversial assault weapons ban being pushed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) — for mark up in his panel on Thursday. 
Because of procedural rules in the Judiciary Committee, any member — Republican or Democrat — could delay that session for a week. 
But the move to include the assault weapons ban in the committee package guarantees that the National Rifle Association and gun-rights groups will try to derail the bill in committee or when it reaches the Senate floor during the next several weeks. 
Other legislation being considered for Judiciary markup is a bill by Leahy to stop illegal gun trafficking; a “placeholder” proposal on universal background checks for all gun sales by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.); and a measure by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to increase school safety. 
Leahy has been pushing for expanded background checks for all gun transactions. His legislation would make it more difficult for “straw purchasers” to obtain guns for third parties, especially those with criminal records or who would otherwise be ineligible to buy a gun themselves. . . .
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) says that they aren't that close to a deal on background checks, but I always worry that the Dems are asking for more than they want and then compromise.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Sunday that a bipartisan Senate group he belongs to isn’t “that close” to striking a deal to expand background checks on gun sales, citing a remaining disagreement over keeping records. 
“I don’t think we are that close to a deal,” Coburn said on “Fox News Sunday.” 
The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe reported that the group is on the verge of striking a deal to expand background checks to all private gun sales with limited exceptions, but that disagreements remain over the issue of recordkeeping of private gun sales. 
Coburn, who has received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, voiced strong opposition to keeping records on sales involving law abiding gun owners. “There absolutely will not be recordkeeping on legitimate, law abiding gun owners in this country.” he said. “And if they want to eliminate the benefits of actually trying to prevent the sales to people who are mentally ill and to criminals, all they have to do is create a record keeping. And that will kill this bill.” . . . .
Amazingly, just the previous day the Washington Post reported:
A bipartisan group of senators is on the verge of a deal that would expand background checks to all private firearms sales with limited exemptions, but significant disagreements remain on the issue of keeping records of private gun sales, according to aides familiar with the talks. . . . 

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Idaho discussing making it a crime for State or Local government Official to help the Feds Seize Guns

From the Times-News newspaper in Idaho.
Idaho law enforcement officers who help the federal government confiscate any newly banned firearms or ammunition could get jail time and a $1,000 fine, under a measure introduced by lawmakers on Monday.
The bill seeks to head off possible attempts by President Barack Obama and Congress to outlaw semi-automatic weapons, high-capacity magazines or ammunition following the massacre of Connecticut elementary school students.
Government employees in Idaho who help enforce new federal firearms restrictions or registration requirements would be guilty of a misdemeanor, according to the measure.
The Obama administration has said that it has no plans to confiscate weapons or require national firearms registration. Even so, Republican Rep. Mark Patterson of Boise is among a group of 22 co-sponsors who say this bill is necessary to ensure Idaho residents' "inalienable God-given rights to defend themselves'' are forever protected. . . .
Thanks very much to Dan Warner for the link.

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Is there a right to carry a gun? The 10th Circuit court of Appeals says no


The video is also available here.

A copy of the 10th Circuit's decision is available here.  The previous 7th Circuit decision is discussed here and here.

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Gun Control groups pushing hard for gun registration

Universal background checks aren't going to work anyway, but without gun registration they won't even work in theory because you won't be able to prove whether family members or others have exchanged ownership of guns without going through background checks. 
Coburn, the group’s ambassador to gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association, won’t accept a record-keeping requirement on the grounds that it could lead to government overreach. Schumer and Manchin, who are in regular contact with gun control groups, say any bill without a records provision would be as toothless as an honor system. . . . 

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Audio from appearing on Mike Huckabee's show to discuss my new book "At the Brink"

The audio from my appearance on the show is available here.  It was fun talking to Huckabee as always.

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Juan Williams: Liberal media will ‘shut you down, stab you, kill you, fire you’ if you disagree

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Dems use misleading gun control ads against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell, who might be in a tough senate race next year, is the early target of ads from gun control groups.  The point is that an assault rifle is the exact same as a semi-automatic hunting rifle.  It fires the same bullets with the same rapidity, doing the exact same damage.
“I am a Vietnam vet and a hunter,” Gary Nutt of Cub Run, Ky., says in the ad. “I only shot my rifle one time this last season. One shot, one deer. But I’d be a pretty bad hunter if I needed an assault rifle to shoot that buck. I support the plan to ban assault weapons and keep ’em out of the wrong hands. Because I know these guns. I know what they can do. The NRA and the gun manufacturers have given a ton of money to Sen. Mitch McConnell. And now he’s blocking reform. Senator, whose side are you on?” . . .
Meanwhile actress Ashley Judd looks like she is running against McConnell:
"My impression is this is something she wants to do, and she is now taking the time to make the contacts she needs to make throughout the state to try and generate commitments of support and in some cases fundraising," Yarmuth said. "She is certainly acting like a candidate, a potential candidate. 
"I think in her own mind ... she has made a decision to run and she's doing the right thing and not ruffling any feathers along the way," he added. . . . . 

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Total federal debt

From Robert Samuelson:
TREASURY DEBT HELD BY THE PUBLIC: $11.3 trillion 
FEDERAL LOANS AND LOAN GUARANTEES: $2.9 trillion in 2011 
FANNIE AND FREDDIE: $5.1 trillion 
THE FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION: $7.3 trillion . . .

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