Video of my CNN discussion on Detroit police chief saying that arming residents will act as a deterrent

My discussion on CNN over the Detroit police chief's comments is available here.

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Newest Op-ed at National Review Online: New York’s Fact-Free Gun Ruling

My newest piece at National Review Online starts this way:
New York’s new gun-control law, the so-called SAFE Act, largely survived its first federal-court challenge on this past Tuesday. The more than 1,140 New Yorkers it’s made felons will remain so. But even the testimony of the state’s own expert witness failed to show that the law will cut crime. 
The judge in this case is William M. Skretny, chief federal judge for the Western District of New York. His decision upheld the state’s gun-registration requirements and ban on assault weapons, but he rejected the seven-round limit for magazines, deeming it arbitrary. 
The decision relied heavily on testimony by George Mason University criminology professor Chris Koper, who argued “that the criminal use of assault weapons declined after the federal assault-weapons ban was enacted in 1994, independently of trends in gun crime.” Judge Skretny wrote in his opinion: “Because New York’s regulations are tighter than those in the federal ban, [Koper] believes, quite reasonably, that the affect [sic] will be greater.” . . .


Nearly 70% of Americans say the economy is generally in poor shape

From CNN Money:
Despite a recent string of positive economic news, Americans say they aren't feeling the improvements. 
A new CNN/ORC poll released Friday showed people were pessimistic that the economy was improving. Nearly 70% said the economy is generally in poor shape, and only 32% rated it good. . . .

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Strength standards for male Marines lowered dramatically so that women can perform tasks, but half of female recruits still fail pull-up test

So what is the danger of lower male strength tests so that only 3 pull-ups need to be done.  3 pull-ups?  Someone with that little upper body strength is going to be able to scale a wall?  This is someone that you want to depend on in combat?  From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) - More than half of female Marines in boot camp can't do three pullups, the minimum standard that was supposed to take effect with the new year, prompting the Marine Corps to delay the requirement, part of the process of equalizing physical standards to integrate women into combat jobs. 
The delay rekindled sharp debate in the military on the question of whether women have the physical strength for some military jobs, as service branches move toward opening thousands of combat roles to them in 2016. 
Although no new timetable has been set on the delayed physical requirement, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos wants training officials to "continue to gather data and ensure that female Marines are provided with the best opportunity to succeed," Capt. Maureen Krebs, a Marine spokeswoman, said Thursday. 
Starting with the new year, all female Marines were supposed to be able to do at least three pullups on their annual physical fitness test and eight for a perfect score. The requirement was tested in 2013 on female recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., but only 45 percent of women met the minimum, Krebs said. 
The Marines had hoped to institute the pullups on the belief that pullups require the muscular strength necessary to perform common military tasks such as scaling a wall, climbing up a rope or lifting and carrying heavy munitions. . . .

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Gallup: Uninsured Americans by a 59-to-39 percent margin had a negative experience with Obamacare exchanges in December

If you think a 59-to-39 percent margin for the uninsured who have visited the Obamacare website is bad, the uninsured by a 29-to-7 percent margin were more likely to have a very negative experience than a very positive one.  Just as bad, only 26% of uninsured Americans say that they have even visited a health insurance exchange website.

Combine this with an earlier poll, and one would think that insurance coverage will increase.  In early December Gallup reported that 25 percent of uninsured will stay that way.

The big problem that I have with Gallup is that they keep making the claim about the fine for not being insured.  No one really has to pay that fine if they are simply decrease the amount that is deducted from their paychecks for income tax withholding.



The interview that I had regarding points in my book "At the Brink" is available here.


Hypocrisy: Michael Bloomberg taking his police security detail with him as he leaves the mayor's office

Bloomberg understands why someone such as himself wants armed body guards, but he has no sympathy for mere private citizens who probably face even greater risks from crime.  From the New York Post:
The move means the cops will all hit the jackpot — pocketing cushy pensions and new “six-figure salaries” to keep serving the outgoing mayor, whose eponymous business-media empire has made him the seventh-richest person in America. . . . 
While Bloomberg’s security detail has 17 members, not all will be riding his gravy-train run. 
The unidentified lieutenant who heads the team will land the biggest windfall and “is getting paid a lot more than the detectives,” a source said. 
The NYPD provides Bloomberg with ’round-the-clock protection that includes a driver, bodyguard and advance man who secures the mayor’s destination whenever the mayor is out and about. . . .  
But City Hall sources noted that in the past, ex-mayors including Ed Koch, David Dinkins and Rudy Giuliani were all provided taxpayer-funded NYPD bodyguards after they left office.
In Giuliani’s case, the cost ran nearly $1 million a year, with detectives protecting the ex-mayor along with his mother, Helen; then-estranged wife, Donna Hanover; children Caroline and Andrew; and his then-girlfriend, Judith Nathan. 
At the time, Bloomberg defended the expense, noting that Giuliani “took a number of positions that were in the interest of the public, some of which were very controversial, and there are a lot of crazy people out there.” . . .

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Another "Fast and Furious" gun turns up at Mexican shootout scene that left five dead

From The Hill newspaper:
A gun from the failed U.S. operation known as "Fast and Furious" turned up at the scene of a shootout between Mexican authorities and alleged cartel gunmen last month, according to CNN.
U.S. officials told CNN at least one AK-47-style gun that could be traced back to the failed gun-walking scheme was found at the scene.
The shootout on Dec. 18 left five alleged cartel members dead in Puerto Penasco, a popular tourist site in Mexico. . . .
Grassley, in a statement to CNN, expressed regret that no one in the administration had yet been held accountable.
“Unfortunately, guns from Fast and Furious will be found in operations like this for years to come," he said. . . . 


What does Mayor de Blasio think will happen to the horses when he bans horse drawn carriage rides?

I often ask people a simple economics question.  Do you think that there will be more or fewer trees if environmentalists could force people to use less paper?  How about this: would their be more or fewer chickens if people stopped eating chicken?  Possibly chickens don't have a wonderful life, but would they rather have never have existed?

de Blasio says that he wants to ban horse drawn carriages to protect the horses, but what does he think is going to happen to the horses?  Will people just move the horses to beautiful fields where the horses will be feed and cared for at someone's expense?  The more valuable the horse, the more people will put into keeping it healthy.  My guess is that some of these horse will live much shorter lives if de Blasio gets his way.


New York City's new socialist mayor was Hillary Clinton's campaign manager when she ran for the Senate in 2000

I wasn't very surprised that George Soros was a strong supporter of de Blasio, but somehow I had missed this fact about his connection with Hillary.  Right now I think that it says more about her than it does de Blasio.  From Reuters:
"When I said we would take dead aim at the tale of two cities, I meant it. And we will do it," de Blasio said. "That mission - our march towards a fairer, more just, more progressive place, our march to keep the promise of New York alive for the next generation - it begins today."
"We won't wait. We'll do it now," de Blasio said as he ticked off his priorities: expanding the city's paid sick leave law, forcing large developers to build more affordable housing, reforming the controversial police tactic of stop-and-frisk that critics say leads to racial profiling, and offering universal access to pre-kindergarten and after-school programs. . . . 
In 2000, when former U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton ran for U.S. senator in New York, de Blasio was her campaign manager. . . .
Politicker has this about the first two speakers invited to de Blasio's inauguration.
During the election season, Bill de Blasio was often painted by conservatives as a leftist radical. But at his inauguration today, it was not Mr. de Blasio who dropped the most aggressive lines, but the first two speakers at the event. 
In particular, Rev. Fred Lucas Jr., who was among several chaplains representing the city’s uniformed workers, surprised many observers by comparing the five boroughs to a “plantation.” 
“Let the plantation called New York City be the city of God, a city set upon the hill, a light shining in darkness,” he declared. “Elevate our valleys. Make low our mountains. Make our crooked places straight and our rough places smooth. Oh God, oh God, oh God, break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.” 
Mr. Lucas had several additional references to slavery in his short address, citing shackles, bondage, auction blocks, the Emancipation Proclamation, Civil War and Reconstruction Era. . . . 
de Blasio defended these statements.
Mayor Bill de Blasio today defended the controversial comments made by many of his inauguration speakers, including one cleric who described New York City as aplantation.” 
“I am very comfortable with everyone’s remarks yesterday and I think the ceremony represented the positive aspiration of New Yorkers for a more just city,” he told reporters today after swearing in his new Police Commissioner, Bill Bratton, at a ceremony at 1 Police Plaza. 
Many of the speakers at Mr. de Blasio’s event yesterday, including civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, Rev. Fred Lucas Jr. and Public Advocate Tish James, raised eyebrows for portraying the city in what many observers described as divisive terms. “Let the plantation called New York City be the city of God,” Mr. Lucas invoked, for example. . . . 

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The missing unemployed, what the unemployment rate is missing

The press realizes that millions of Americans are just giving up and leaving the labor force.  Indeed, if the same percentage of the population were working as was working when Obama became president in January 2009, there would be about 7.2 million more Americans working today and over 8 million more Americans in the labor force.  But those 8 million Americans have given up and are no longer looking for work.  If those people were still in the labor force, instead of an unemployment rate of 7 percent, the rate would be 10.9 percent.
Now some of the lower labor force participation rate is due to the aging population.  One way to account for this is to look at just those between the ages 25 to 54.  This will also underestimate those who have left the labor force as many of those over age 55 have simply retired and people under age 25 who faced a bleak job market have simply stayed in school longer.

Ideally, it would be nice to look at everyone under age 65, but it would have taken me a little while longer to get that data together.  The actual drop in the unemployment rate (or the "non-drop") is something between these two blue lines.


Judge upholds most of New York's new gun control regulations, meanwhile state refuses to release information on the number of guns registered under its new law

Registration of guns has long been a goal of gun control advocates, though it has been a dismal failure where it has been previously tried.  The law is back in the news with a Federal judge upholding most of it as constitutional.  The main part of the reasoning is as follows:
In what could be the first of many court decisions regarding the law, Skretny acknowledged that “so-called ‘assault weapons’ and large-capacity magazines” may be in common use – a legal benchmark for constitutionality. 
But he also suggested the state’s regulation of those weapons and magazines is related to an important governmental interest: public safety. 
“Accordingly, the act does not violate the Second Amendment,” he said. . . .  
“It does not totally disarm New York’s citizens,” he said, “and it does not meaningfully jeopardize their right to self-defense.” . . . 
Skretny upheld those aspects of the law but rejected the law’s prohibition on loading more than seven rounds in those 10-round magazines. 
He also found other aspects of the law, including the regulation of pistols that are automatic weapons, to be unconstitutional. . . .
During deposition, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier even conceded: “It is not clear how firearms’ registration records could be used to ‘prevent’ a crime.” Other than possession offenses, Lanier could not “recall any specific instance where registration records were used to determine who committed a crime.” . . .  
From 2007 to 2013, the police seized 12,000 unregistered firearms. Meanwhile, only 36 registered guns were seized during this same period. Of those 36 guns, only 17 were involved in charges against a registered firearm owner. Of those 17 cases, only two resulted in convictions for a violent crime. Clearly, the good guys with the guns—the ones burdened by gun-control regulations—are not the problem. . . .
Assault weapon and magazine regulations also aren't going to help public safety.
Further, because the SAFE Act’s requirement that ammunition sales be conducted “face-to-face” does not unduly burden interstate commerce, it does not violate the dormant Commerce Clause. . . . 
But there is no discussion of the cost that this provision adds to ammunition purchases.  It is my understanding that on average the cost of going through an FFL to get a background check on ammunition purchases adds $85 to the average purchase, and there are also the time costs involved.  If there is a public safety benefit, it would seem that everyone benefits and then economists would argue that it would make more sense that everyone pay for that benefit.
But under intermediate scrutiny, this Court must give “substantial deference to the predictive judgments of the legislature.” . . .
At least on my reading of this decision, it appears as if the plaintiffs did a relatively poor job of marshaling their evidence.  Chris Koper, the state's expert, has worked on these issues, but it appears that it wasn't made clear that he didn't find a statistically significant benefit from the assault weapons ban or the limit on magazines.  Koper claims that New York's law will have a greater benefit than the federal law simply because it is more restrictive, but Koper never examined state level laws and the only evidence that I know of on this is mine and it contradicts his claim (see here and here).

The judge says Koper argues: "A [large capacity-magazine] is arguably the most functionally important feature of most [assault weapons], many of which have magazines holding 30 or more rounds)."  Any gun that can hold a magazine can hold one of any size. That is true for handguns as well as rifles.  This implies that all semi-automatic guns have the most dangerous feature of so-called "assault weapons."  A magazine, which is basically a metal box with a spring, is trivially easy to make and virtually impossible to stop criminals from obtaining.  Even if someone didn't have access to  The 1994 legislation banned magazines holding more than 10 bullets yet had no effect on crime rates.

Another strange statement from the judge is his reliance on Mother Jones magazine.  I have a long critique of the "research" that the judge relies on here.

The judge seems willing to accept the legislature and the governor's claim that this law advances public safety without requiring any actual evidence that is the actual case.  It seems doubtful that Skretny would have accepted a tax on newspapers based on the legislature's word that they were doing it to ensure that the public was receiving accurate information.  Contrast that with Judge Posner's decision in striking down the Illinois ban on concealed handguns and where he looked through the academic literature very carefully to show that there was no evidence of bad effects of the law.  Obviously, one can't depend on having a Judge Posner who feels comfortable looking through the academic literature.  This is something that the plaintiffs should have done for the judge and it doesn't appear that they did their job here.

So how successful has New York's new gun control law been in getting people to register their so-called "assault weapons"?  One need look no further than New York City or California (in 2013 and 1999) to see how these registration rules are used to confiscate guns.  We might never know because according to the Albany Times Union: "Gov. Andrew Cuomo's NY SAFE Act gun control law is a state secret."

. . . The Times Union recently asked how many assault-weapon owners have registered their weapons to date. 
The answer came in the form of a little-known clause tucked into the law that says the information is confidential: "State Police cannot release information related to the registration of assault weapons including the number of assault weapons registered." . . .  
Officials pointed to a section in the SAFE Act that says, "Records assembled or collected for purposes of inclusion in such (a) database shall not be subject to disclosure." 
Advocacy groups — including those that supported the gun control measure and those that took no stance — said they disagree keeping SAFE Act data secret. . . . 
The secrecy has also upset SAFE Act opponents, some of whom had earlier sought a registration total and had been denied. 
"We don't care about names or addresses (of registrants). We just want totals," said George Rogero, who heads the Orange County NY Shooters group and runs a blog on Second Amendment issues. . . . 
Gun rights advocates say they are interested in tallying registrations, in part, because with many local sheriffs opposed to the SAFE Act, they believe that only a handful of those with the grandfathered weapons will bother to register. 
No one knows how many assault-style weapons are in New York state. Shortly after the law was passed, State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico estimated that there could be hundreds of thousands. Others have said 1 million isn't an unrealistic number. . . .
But that section bans the disclosure of personal information about registrants and license holders, such as names, addresses and specifics about guns owned, not on the number of registrations conducted. The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle has this quote on Cuomo's interpretation of the law.

"If we're talking about statistics only, not the actual records that were assembled or collected, in my opinion they're public," Freeman said. "I don't know why they would be reluctant."
It looks like the real reason for this unwillingness to supply information is for the simple reason that people aren't complying with the law.  New York gun owners vowed to defy Governor Andrew Cuomo's pet law. Many county sheriffs in the state say they won't enforce it. Some county governments not only call for the law's repeal, but refuse to even let their official seals be associated with its implementation.  A similar problem arose in Canada when it had its gun registration program.  

According to WHAM-TV Channel 13 News, the law has resulted in 1,146 people being charged with felonies.

Nearly a year after passage of the state's new gun law, dealer sales of AR-15 semi-automatic rifles have ended in New York and arrest data show more than 1,000 gun possession charges in New York City were boosted from misdemeanors to felonies. Meanwhile, 59 people have been charged statewide with misdemeanors for possessing large-capacity magazines or having more than seven bullets loaded in a magazine. Both were outlawed by the law passed last January following the school massacre in Newtown, Conn. A report from the Division of Criminal Justice Services shows only one person charged with the illegal sale or transfer of a gun defined as an assault weapon as of mid-December. The new law tightened that definition to include AR-15s. Owners may keep their older weapons but must register them by April 15.



This blog is one of the Fab50 blogs, receiving the award for best firearms related blog

Here are some of the winners from the "Fabulous 50 blog winners."


The Illusionary Drop in Unemployment, how the drop in unemployment is due to people leaving the work force, not them getting jobs

Click on figure to make it larger

The red line shows how the actual unemployment rate over time.  The blue line shows shows how the unemployment rate has changed since Obama became president if one assumes that the labor force participation rate hadn't plummeted since he became president.  Once one takes into account those who are simply leaving the labor force, the unemployment rate isn't getting noticeably better since the end of 2009.


Detailing PolitiFact's continued efforts to protect Obama and Obamacare

I have had real problems with Politifact's objectivity on the gun issue (see also here), but apparently it doesn't do a better job when it comes to Obamacare.  Avik Roy at Forbes details how Politifact constantly covered up Obama's false statements about Obamacare.  What is now the "lie of the year" was originally rated by Politifact as "True" when it should have been obvious to everyone (not just the Congressional Budget Office) that it was impossible to be true.  Roy notes that even as late as the summer of 2012 Politifact was still rating the promise that you could keep your plan as "Half True."  So what happens

USA Today has put together a very partial list of Democrats who made the same promise about Obamacare as Obama:

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, June 10, 2009: We here in the Senate are working on legislation that will protect people's choice of doctors, will protect their choice of hospitals, will protect their choice of insurance plan. If you like what you have today, that will be what you have when this legislation is passed. (Source: Remarks on the Senate floor.)
Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, July 28, 2009: The reform we are pursuing … not only means making sure you can keep your family's doctor or keep your health care plan if you like it but also that you can afford to do so. (Source: Remarks on the Senate floor.)
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, July 30, 2009: Many people say: I like my health insurance right now. I don't want to change. I don't want to go into Medicare or Medicaid. I like what I have. Would you please leave people alone. The answer is yes. In fact, we guarantee it. We are going to put in any legislation considered by the House and Senate the protection of you, as an individual, to keep the health insurance you have, if that is what you want. What we are trying to create are voluntary choices and opportunities. (Source: Remarks on the Senate floor.)
President Obama, Aug. 15, 2009: At the same time — I just want to be completely clear about this; I keep on saying this but somehow folks aren't listening — if you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan. Nobody is going to force you to leave your health care plan. (Source: Remarks from town hall on health care.)
Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, Dec. 24, 2009: Alaskans who have health insurance now, and are happy with it, can keep it. (Source: Press release.)
President Obama, March 25, 2010: From this day forward, all of the cynics, all the naysayers — they're going to have to confront the reality of what this reform is and what it isn't. They'll have to finally acknowledge this isn't a government takeover of our health care system. They'll see that if Americans like their doctor, they'll be keeping their doctor. You like your plan? You'll be keeping your plan. No one is taking that away from you. (Source: Remarks in Iowa City, Iowa.)
Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, Sept. 29, 2010: From the beginning, the law has been about preserving what is good about American health care. That is why one of the central promises of health care reform has been and is: If you like what you have, you can keep it. That is critically important. If a person has a plan,and he or she likes it, he or she can keep it. (Source: Remarks on the Senate floor.)
Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, April 6, 2012: This bill will help make health insurance more secure for those who already have it and make coverage available for millions of uninsured Americans. And it is important to remember that for those who already have health insurance, the law allows you to keep your existing plan. (Source: Press release.)
President Obama, June 28, 2012: First, if you're one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable. (Source: Remarks on Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act.)
Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, web page accessed Nov. 11, 2013: If you like your current health insurance, you will be able to keep it. And you will be able to continue seeing your current doctor. Health care reform would simply give you the choice to change insurance providers if you so choose. (Source: Q & A webpage.)
Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, fact sheet accessed Nov. 11, 2013: For middle class families, health care reform … Ensures you can keep the coverage you have and guarantees coverage if you change or lose your job. (Source: Fact sheet.)
White House web page, accessed Nov. 11, 2013: If you like your plan you can keep it and you don't have to change a thing due to the health care law. The President addressed concerns from Americans who have received letters of policy cancellations or changes from their insurance companies in an interview with NBC News, watch the video or read a transcript. (Source: White House website.)

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Where do women carry concealed handguns?

I am often asked about where women carry concealed handguns.  Here are some videos that discuss the issue.
Bra holster

Thigh holster


A within the pants holster

More within the pants and bra holsters

UPDATE: In India "A gun designed for Indian Women"
India has launched a new handgun for women, named after a student who was gang-raped in Delhi in December 2012 and later died of her injuries. Officials say it will help women defend themselves, but critics say it's an insult to the victim's memory. 
In his large office on Kanpur's Kalpi Road, Abdul Hameed, the general manager of the state-run Indian Ordnance Factory, shows me Nirbheek, the factory's tiniest gun. 
"It's small, it's lightweight, it weighs only 500g [1.1lb], and it can easily fit into a lady's purse."
Hameed speaks enthusiastically about the .32-calibre revolver, praising the "special titanium alloy body, the pleasing-to-the-eye wooden handle". 
"The six-shot gun is easy to handle and it can hit its target accurately up to 15m [50ft]," he explains, pointing out the word "Nirbheek" engraved on the barrel. 
Although men can buy the gun too, Nirbheek is being pitched as India's "first gun for women" and to make it more attractive to them, it comes packaged in a deep maroon jewellery case. . . .


Democrats will be pushing higher minimum wages to help with 2014 elections

UPDATE: Fox News discussion on "Will minimum wage be hot topic in 2014 midterm elections?"

ORIGINAL POST: Economists have long understood that minimum wages hurt the very lowest skilled individuals the most.  The people who are just trying to get a leg up the later of success are stopped from getting on the first step.  You raise the wages of employees so that there is an excess supply, and the ones who are the least productive (e.g., those that require the most training) are less likely to make the cut.  Yet, Democrats claim that they are pushing higher minimum wages to help the poor.  From the Associated Press:
Republican governors running for re-election next year are looking to capitalize on distaste for Washington gridlock and President Barack Obama's dropping public approval amid the bumpy rollout of his signature health care law — and Democratic challengers may need to respond with a popular cause. 
A minimum wage increase could be the answer. 
Democrats vying to challenge a slew of Republican governors, particularly those seeking re-election in states that Obama won last year, are talking up an increase as their campaigns get off the ground 11 months before the election. . . .  
Thus far, the Republicans whom Democrats view as most vulnerable aren't changing their minds and supporting it. 
In addition to Corbett, the Democrats' list of most vulnerable includes Maine's Paul LePage, Michigan's Rick Snyder and Wisconsin's Scott Walker. Florida's Rick Scott and Ohio's John Kasich might be insulated because their states' laws boost minimum wage with inflation and Iowa's Terry Branstad, New Mexico's Susanna Martinez and Nevada's Brian Sandoval aren't viewed as sufficiently endangered. . . .
The push is likely to be the center piece of Obama's 2014 domestic agenda.  From Politico:
Podesta, who had just announced plans to spin off from CAPnew project focusing on economic inequality, will be part of the big minimum wage hike push likely to be the centerpiece of Obama’s pared-down 2014 domestic agenda. “It will fuel our politics for years to come,” says Neera Tanden, who replaced Podesta as CAP’s CEO. . . .


Why does the media trust the Obamacare numbers put out by the Obama administration?

After first refusing to release Obamacare enrollment numbers when the Obama administration knew how bad they were and then dramatically inflating the numbers by counting people as signed up when they haven't paid for the plans (see also here), the media still reports the Obama numbers without any qualifiers.  From Fox News:
The Obama administration announced early Sunday that enrollment in the federal healthcare exchange passed the 1 million mark in December as more than 975,000 people signed up between December 1 and the December 24 deadline to ensure coverage beginning on the first of 2014.  
Officially, the administration put the total of people now enrolled at more than 1.1 million people now enrolled and boasted that the site was able to support 83,000 concurrent visitors on December 23, the next-to-last day before the sign-up deadline. By contrast, the administration reported only 27,000 sign-ups in October --the website's first, error-prone month -- and 137,000 in November. 
The administration has yet to provide a December update on the 14 states running their own exchanges. While California, New York, Washington, Kentucky and Connecticut have performed well, others are still struggling. 
The windfall comes at a critical moment for Obama's sweeping health care law, which becomes "real" for many Americans on Jan. 1 when coverage through the exchanges and key patient protections kick in. . . . .  
The fledgling exchanges are still likely to fall short of the government's own targets for 2013.  The administration had projected more than 3.3 million overall would be enrolled through federal and state exchanges by the end of the year. . . .



On December 27th, Obamacare applicants in Iowa told that they must reapply

From Des Moines Register has this:
Nearly 16,000 Iowans who tried to apply for insurance via the trouble-plagued federal health-insurance website are being told to apply separately through the state Department of Human Services. 
The news affects people who entered their information into healthcare.gov and received a notice that they might qualify for Medicaid. The federal computer system was supposed to transfer their applications to a state computer system, but that transfer has been delayed by technical problems. The new coverage is supposed to take effect Wednesday. 
“Currently, the files sent by (federal officials) do not include enough information for the state to process applications,” a Department of Human Services press release said this afternoon. “Federal officials had indicated they would send more complete information by Monday, Dec. 30, but notified DHS this afternoon that there will be additional delay.” . . .
 Any bets about whether these people will have have a chance to get their insurance up by January 1st?  Of course, the Obama administration just assumes that the private insurance companies will make up for their failures.  Yet, during December the Obama administration had a lot of time to try to gin up support for the program.
Administration officials developed the strategy in mid-December at a White House meeting with aides to House and Senate Democrats, who were part of communications “strike teams” created after HealthCare.gov relaunched Dec. 1. And since then, they’ve been working with outside groups to collect experiences with the Affordable Care Act. 
“We just naturally come across these stories every day,” said Justin Nisly, spokesman for Enroll America, which has 14,000 volunteers who have contacted more than 410,000 people. “Many of our volunteers are people who have gotten covered,” and anecdotes are a way to “make this really practical for people to get beyond the politics of it.” 
House Democratic leaders sent a three-page guide to members this week on finding stories and pitching them to local TV stations and newspapers, promoting them on Facebook and Twitter, integrating them into talking points, and highlighting them in floor speeches. 
There was one key precaution: the stories need to be “thoroughly vetted.” . . .

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Racing electric cars?: Just too funny, this seems guaranteed to stop buying electric cars

Limits on speed.  Having to change cars every 20 minutes!  Possibly they will even have a few battery fires.  What else could there be to constantly remind people why they won't want to drive these electric cars.  From the UK Telegraph:
If you think the atmosphere at a Formula 1 grand prix is electric, you’re going to love the new motor sport starting next year. Formula E will see drivers racing around city-centre circuits - including London - in battery-powered electric cars. The new championship, which is backed by the FIA, motor racing’s governing body, promises cars as sexy as those driven by Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel et al, but with lithium-ion batteries and electric motors instead of fuel tanks and pistons. And, while their top speed is expected to be 155mph, slower than Formula 1, the event will compensate with exciting street circuits and brightly-lit night events. The pit stops will be different too: with the batteries running out of juice after 20 minutes, drivers won’t just change their tires, they’ll jump into new cars. The season is scheduled to start on September 13 in Beijing, with further races in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Berlin and Los Angeles amongst others, before the final event in the centre of London on June 27 2015. . . .
The WSJ just also happens to have this discussion of the Porsche 918 Spyder  ($845,000, 211 mph top speed), which contains electric motors.  It is amazing that the battery in this hybrid is depleted after just one lap at racing speeds.
In September the 918 Spyder development team shattered the Nürburgring production-car lap record, with a time of 6:57 minutes, a half-minute quicker—a half-minute!—than the Porsche Carrera GT. The 918 Spyder is stunning, defining, a sports car immortal with 18 miles of all-electric range that also gets an estimated 79 miles per gallon. 
Except that it games the Nürburgring record. Project leader Frank Walliser explained to me that in fundamental ways—for example, the size, weight and output of the car's 6.8-kwh, 385-volt lithium battery—the car's systems were purpose-built and scaled precisely to exceed this one number on the Nürburgring's 14-mile Nordschleife track. With the car in "Hot Lap mode," it takes one Nordschleife lap to deplete the battery; after that, the roughly 660 pounds of EV powertrain becomes dead weight. . . .  
This seems to violate a principle of design purity that a machine performs the same through its range of operation. The car is artificially fast on the "Ring." For me, the 918's Nürburgring lap record will always have an asterisk. . . .


Obama waits until the very last day to be upset about the extended unemployment benefits and Democrats plan on using this as a campaign issue

UPDATE: Senate Democrats will put up a vote on jobless benefits on Monday, but if this is really so important, you would think that they could find some money to pay for this spending.  It seems as if they really want it to be defeated.  From Fox News:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says his chamber will vote Monday on extending long-term jobless benefits and that he plans to outline his 2014 legislative agenda in the coming days.
The benefits were not included in a two-year budget deal Congress reached in December, cutting off unemployment checks for 1.3 million Americans out of work longer than six months.
Reid, D-Nevada, is optimistic that the bipartisan legislation in the Senate will get enough support from members of both parties to win passage in the Democrat-controlled chamber.
However, he offered no prediction on whether it will pass in the Republican-led House.
"I don't predict anything in the House," Reid told the Associated Press before describing the lower chamber as a "black hole of legislation."
President Obama has endorsed the proposal, but Republicans in the House have insisted that any renewal of the extended jobless benefits be offset. . . .
ORIGINAL POST: Obama signs the budget deal without the extended unemployment benefits.  Now on Saturday, with just hours to go before the extended benefits expire, he speaks out against the extended benefits ending.  Earlier Democrats waited until a budget agreement was basically reached before they raised the issue of extending benefits further.  As if to ensure that there wouldn't be an agreement, Democrats refused to agree to other cuts to pay for these benefits.  From Politico:
“This literally came out of nowhere yesterday, and it is totally disingenuous of them to put this in play at this point,” one Republican familiar with the talks said. “They know the impact this will have on our side of the aisle, so I can only read this as a deliberate attempt to blow up any deal.” . . .
Now of course, you have articles in The Hill newspaper about how Democrats are going to make a political issue of this cut in benefits.
Democrats are seizing on the expiration of federal unemployment benefits to batter the GOP ahead of the midterm elections.   They say Republicans are to blame for the failure of Congress to renew jobless aid for 1.3 million of the long-term unemployed and are making the point repeatedly in a coordinated messaging blitz over the holiday break. . . . 
President Obama has called for a three-month retroactive reauthorization of the program, and Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) vowed to make it the first order of business when the Senate reconvenes in January. 
“I will ensure that extending unemployment insurance is the first thing we vote on after the holiday,” Reid said last week. A Senate vote could put Republicans in a tough spot. . . .
Here is my take on the issue of topic from three years ago.  The Democrats keep wanting to make the extension a campaign issue.  If this is so crucial, why can't the Democrats find any savings from other programs to fund it?

The extension of unemployment insurance benefits is expected to  pass the Senate today. Despite President Obama's attack on Republicans for delaying the bill, it could easily have passed a month ago if Democrats hadn't added so many other unrelated radical measures to it -- from higher taxes to changes in the Medicare reimbursement formula.  My piece from Fox News starts this way:
The bill President Obama has been hammering Republicans over in the last couple of days has been puzzling since he already knew that he had enough Republican votes to overcome any filibuster and pass the extended benefits. 
The problem, though, isn't that there is insufficient Republican support to pass it. The problem is that the bill will ultimately increase long term unemployment and it will reduce our GDP. 
Ironically, if some of Obama's attacks are correct, Republicans can only be accused of trying to help  Obama's presidency.  
Suppose, as the president said on Monday, that Republicans really believe "that emergency relief somehow discourages people from looking for a job."  If that were true, those Republicans who are opposing the added extension of benefits would believe that defeating it would lower the unemployment rate. . . .
Democrats think that they have this issue on their side.  From Real Clear Politics:
. . . The battle has become the starter’s pistol of the midterm election year, pitting Democrats’ belief that the benefits are necessary and help buoy a still-wobbly economy, against Republican arguments that growth and hiring would gain strength more quickly if Washington keeps its spigot turned off and leaves unemployment compensation to the states. 
Recent polling suggests Democrats have the stronger argument with the public across regions, genders and age groups. A majority of voters say they want Congress and the president to maintain the benefits, according to a survey of 811 registered voters conducted Dec. 18-22 by Hart Research Associates. The poll found that 55 percent of voters think the federal emergency program should continue, while 34 percent say benefits should cease. 
In urging an end to the federal program, in part because of a belief that it feeds dependency, many Republicans are playing with fire heading toward midterm political contests, the Hart pollsters said Dec. 26. . . .
The op-eds are out there pushing the Democrat line.  From Eugene Robinson:
It would be one thing if there were a logical reason to cut off unemployment benefits for those who have been out of work the longest. But no such rationale exists. On both economic and moral grounds, extending benefits for the long-term unemployed should have been an automatic bipartisan vote in both houses of Congress. 
It wasn't. Nothing is automatic and bipartisan anymore, not with today's radicalized GOP on the scene. In this case, a sensible and humane policy option is hostage to bruised Republican egos and the ideological myth of "makers" versus "takers." 
The result is a cruel blow to families that are already suffering. On Saturday, benefits were allowed to expire for 1.3 million people who have been unemployed more than six months. These are precisely the jobless who will suffer most from a cutoff, since they have been scraping by on unemployment checks for so long that their financial situations are already precarious, if not dire. 
Extending unemployment benefits is something that's normally done in a recession, and Republicans correctly point out that we are now in a recovery. But there was nothing normal about the Great Recession, and there is nothing normal about the Not-So-Great Recovery. 
We are emerging from the worst economic slump since the Depression, and growth has been unusually -- and painfully -- slow. Only in the past few months has the economy shown real signs of life. Job growth is improving but still sluggish, with unemployment hovering at 7 percent -- not counting the millions of Americans who have given up looking for work. . . .