So you don't get to keep your doctor?: Now thousands of doctors are being dropped from insurance plans

Remember the promise about being able to keep your doctor?  Did you want to keep your doctor?  Well, they were probably subpar too, right?  Obama is just protecting you from those subpar doctors.  From Reuters:
UnitedHealth Group dropped thousands of doctors from its networks in recent weeks, leaving many elderly patients unsure whether they need to switch plans to continue seeing their doctors, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. 
The insurer said in October that underfunding of Medicare Advantage plans for the elderly could not be fully offset by the company's other healthcare business. The company also reported spending more healthcare premiums on medical claims in the third quarter, due mainly to government cuts to payments for Medicare Advantage services. . . . 
The insurer told the WSJ that its provider networks were always changing and that it expected its Medicare Advantage network to be 85 percent to 90 percent of its current size by the end of 2014. . . .

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Newest Fox News piece: Why insurance companies who follow the ObamaCare 'fix' could face legal troubles

Here is the way that my newest Fox News piece starts:
Will Obama's newest “if you like it you can keep it” offer for health insurance really let Americans get their canceled plans back? 
No. And the president knows it.  
The proposal was rushed out on Thursday for two purposes: to give Congressional Democrats cover today before a vote in the House and shift the blame to others. As will be explained shortly, Obama ignored that there is no way for insurance companies to ignore the current law as it stands. 
Five million Americans have so far lost their insurance and they are suffering sticker shock from the new policies. More Americans on individual plans will soon get notices.  
Unfortunately, the problem won’t be limited to the five percent of Americans that Obama claimed on Thursday. Over the next year, at least a total of 129 million Americans will find that they can't keep their current policies as employer-based insurance policies face renewal. 
Obama's "solution" to people losing their policies is to promise he will not enforce part of the ObamaCare law for one year.  . . .
 UPDATE:  Democrats are now planning on attacking insurance companies for not providing the old insurance plans.  From The Hill newspaper:
Democratic lawmakers have taken a more aggressive posture, however. They are pressuring the industry to take responsibility for hundreds of thousands of people who want to keep their insurance plans but could not until this past week because they failed to meet ObamaCare’s requirements. 
They say the ball is now in the industry’s court after the president announced his administration would let companies continue to offer plans that do not meet the law’s standards if people want to keep them. 
“What we have to do is have all legislators team up and call upon the insurance industry to honor their side of the bargain because it requires not only the government side but it requires the insurance companies to keep offering the policies and not cancel them on folks,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).
“I’ll be calling on insurance companies to continue to extend the individual plans that citizens currently have,” he said. 
A senior Senate Democratic aide said companies should take advantage of the one-year administrative fix Obama announced Thursday. 
“This now rests at the feet of the insurance companies. They’re the ones that have to step up and make the plans available,” the aide said.

UPDATE: Here is a statement from a Democratic congressman wondering whether Obama has the legal authority to do what he did.

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Does legalizing prostitution change rape rates?: Some evidence from Sweden and Germany

From The Economist magazine:
HOW modern and liberated Germany’s Social Democrats and Greens sounded in 2001. They were in government and wanted to raise the legal and social status of prostitutes. So they enacted a law to remove the stigma from sex work by, for example, giving prostitutes full rights to health insurance, pensions and other benefits. “Exploiting” sex workers remained criminal, but merely employing them or providing them with a venue became legal. The idea was that responsible employers running safe and clean brothels would drive pimps out of the market. 
Germany thus embarked on an experiment in liberalisation just as Sweden, a country culturally similar in many ways, was going in the opposite direction. In 1999 the Swedes had made it criminal to pay for sex (pimping was already a crime). By stigmatising not the prostitutes but the men who paid them, even putting them in jail, the Swedes hoped to come close to eliminating prostitution. . . . 
Prostitution seems to have declined in Sweden (unless it has merely gone deep underground), whereas Germany has turned into a giant brothel and even a destination for European sex tourism. The best guess is that Germany has about 400,000 prostitutes catering to 1m men a day. Mocking the spirit of the 2001 law, exactly 44 of them, including four men, have registered for welfare benefits. . . .
This provides an interesting opportunity to test to see if making it easier or harder for prostitution impacts rape rates.  I have only spent a short amount of time on putting some data together, but the results depend on how crime is measured.  If it is measured in terms of crimes reported to police, crimes are falling in Germany after their change and rising in Sweden (though the data that I have is only available after 2003).

Regarding the Survey data, the results are much less clear, but seem to suggest no difference.  Obviously this is only very suggestive and very incomplete since the data for Germany leaves a large gap between 1985-1989 and the 2001 to 2005 period.  In addition, nothing else has been controlled for in examining these numbers.

 Rape Rate per 100,000 population - rates reported to police
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 
10.610.7  9.9  9.8  9.1  8.8  8.9 9.4 

Sexual Crime Incidents from the EU Crime Victimization Survey Table B2.2 (pp. 106-107)
Sweden in the five years before
1996 6.3
2000 7.5
2005 10.8 
Germany in the five years before
1989 7.9
2005 11.0 
The Economist had this interesting explanation for why the two countries made such different decisions.
Both the Swedish and the German laws originated in the feminist and left-leaning movements in these countries. But whereas progressive Swedes view their state as able to set positive goals, Germans (the Greens, especially) mistrust the state on questions of personal morality as a hypocritical and authoritarian threat to self-expression. . . . 

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Evidence that the changes in part-time jobs over this year have been related to the employer health insurance mandate

If you graph out the data on the change in part-time jobs and take into account that the Obama administration announced a temporary delay in the employer mandate in early July, it sure looks like part-time jobs were increasing for a few months as employers thought that they were getting closer to the mandate going into effect and that as soon as the mandate was put on hold there was a sudden drop in part-time jobs.  The reason that others are missing this pattern is that they aren't taking into account the Obama administration announcement and the fact that there is no reason to push people into part-time employment a long period of time before the rule finally goes into place.

Note that there were no similar sudden swings in full-time jobs over the same period of time.

With the one year delay, the number of part-time jobs seems to have gotten back to its original trend.  If I am right, we will again see an increase in part-time jobs next year.  Obviously these changes are small, but it appears that this small variation could be related to Obamacare.

The data from the BLS.gov is available here.

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John Stossel special “War on the Little Guy” -- Fox News Special, Will Stossel get his gun? Saturday, Fox News, 9 PM EST

You can watch the promo for the special here.  My son Maxim produced this segment.

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Obama's big lie about the number of people who have signed up for Obamacare

The Obama administration's report on the number of people who have signed up for Obamacare is available here.  If you read the report you will continually see this phrase: "including both those who have paid the first month’s premium and those who have not yet paid the first month’s premium."  This is the equivalent of Amazon.com counting people putting an item in their online basket as a sale.  If Amazon.com told its shareholders that it had made these "sales," the Obama administration would sue them for fraud.

The irony is that when the Obama administration compares the current sign up rate to past efforts under previous administrations, they count enrollment the way they should be counted.  So for example on page 24 when the report discusses enrollment for Medicare Part D they note: "This data (and graph) includes only those who affirmatively enrolled and paid a premium for a standalone Medicare Part D plan." 


So much for Obamacare controlling insurance premiums

Note this graph doesn't yet include the big changes that will take place on January 1st.  But what we are already seeing I think qualifies as another promise broken by President Obama.  During his press conference yesterday, President Obama again attacked insurance companies, blaming them for any future problems with Obamacare.
And -- and so what we want to do is to be able to say to these folks, you know what, the Affordable Care Act is not going to be the reason why insurers have to cancel your plan. Now, what folks may find is the insurance companies may still come back and say, we want to charge you 20 percent more than we did last year, or we're not going to cover prescription drugs now. But that will -- that's in the nature of the market that existed earlier. . . .
The data is available from the "CPI-U News Release Companion File" at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

UPDATE: On a related point, you have to love this headline: "Revealed: Obamacare plans will cost MORE 'in many cases' even with government subsidies, officials admit for the first time."

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Reading the New Republic for its entertainment value because one apparently can't expect them to be too accurate

I guess that I have a hard time understanding why anyone would read the New Republic for anything other than entertainment.  Here is their discussion on my interactions with Piers Morgan:
Morgan’s current determination is hard to deny. His effectiveness is less clear. For one thing, there’s the way he handles guests. Morgan tends to let hotheads like Jones rant unchecked (ostensibly to expose their insanity, though after a point, he is just giving them a bigger platform). But then he steamrolls authors and academics whose logic is actually worth debunking. Take economist and gun-rights proponent John Lott, whose head Morgan permitted to occupy one side of a split-screen while he talked over him for ten minutes. Lott, author of the book More Guns, Less Crime, attempted feebly to interject, but Morgan wasn’t having it. “I am going to keep talking, so I suggest you keep quiet,” the host informed the guest. To which Lott replied, shoulders slumping: “I don’t see what the point of having anybody on is if you’re going to talk for ninety percent of the time.” And still Morgan barreled on. . . .
The quote from me was made at 10:59 into this video.  As far as I tell my shoulders didn't slump and I didn't stop responding, but I suppose that it the New Republic's attempt at trying to prove that I somehow felt defeated. In addition, I would like to believe that at least viewers learned that gun bans caused murder rates to rise and that Piers was very selective in the data that he picked.

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Is it too late for people to get back their health insurance policies that have already been cancelled by Obamacare?

Everyone who wants to fix Obamacare needs to be careful what they are promising.  From Politico:
Insurance industry sources say that it’s likely too late to undo the cancellation notices that already have gone out, meaning the Upton bill is unlikely to actually restore coverage. . . .
This might be different if the regulatory system let insurance companies do what they want, but that is hardly the case.  However, what I would say is that a lot of employer plans are going to be cancelled over the course of the coming year and those cancelations can still be fixed. 



Fox News Poll: By a 55 to 38 percent margin Americans think that Obama "tried to deceive" them about Obamacare

The recent Quinnipiac Poll showed that Americans believe Obama isn't honest by a 52 to 44 percent margin, but surprisingly they don't think that Obama knowingly deceived them on keeping their insurance plans.  A new Fox News poll has some different results: a 59-percent majority believes the administration knew ahead of time that people would be kicked off their insurance because of the law, and 55 percent think the White House has “tried to deceive” people about it.  Some 38 percent say the administration has “been honest.”  According to the poll Obama's approval rating has gone down to 40 percent.

Independents believe that Obama has tried to deceive Americans about the Obamacare by a 51 to 34 percent margin.  One bizarre note is that those with a college degree don't feel that Obama has been deceptive as much as those without a degree.  Younger people and higher income people also thought that Obama was "knowingly lied" to people.  Click to make larger.

Few people approve of the job that Obama is doing on the issues.

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Shocking how the government uses taxpayer funds to buy support from private entities

Given how much money the government has access to, they could buy support for Obamacare from almost anyone.  For an administration claims to have high standards of transparency, it is astounding that the Obama administration wouldn't make clearly public that they are making these bribes.   From the Washington Times:
Two months before enrollment began in the Obamacare exchanges, the administration’s top health care official heaped praise on WebMD for launching an online resource to help Americans navigate the complex law. 
The consumer health care site had the occasional nice thing to say about Obamacare, too. In one article, it predicted doctors might pick up more patients and crowed in an article titled “7 Surprising Things About the Affordable Care Act” that many consumers already had received insurance refunds under the law. 
But what neither Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius nor WebMD mentioned at the time was that the company, which millions of Americans regularly read for health news, also stood to earn millions of dollars from a federal contract to teach doctors about Obamacare. 
The contract documents, reviewed by The Washington Times, reward WebMD handsomely. For instance, the fee schedule offers dozens of products, including: 
 • As much as $126,826 for a single 5,000-word review article on scientific advances in a clinical topic. 
• Up to $68,916 for a four-minute video from an opinion specialist. 
• More than $140,000 for an eight-question online quiz. . . .

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A note on Fisher v. University of Texas as it goes back to the Fifth Circuit

The American Educational Research Association Amicus brief filed in the Supreme Court case tried to undermine my research with Mark Ramseyer and Jeff Standen.  Here is the relevant discussion from their brief.

It is true that only two universities were examined, but most of the rest of the statements are misleading or wrong.

1) While both schools tended to have relatively low total African-American enrollment, the point of the study was to examine how students did as they went from one class to another.  In some of their classes there were few black students, but in others they made up fairly high percentages of the students in those classes.  So it wasn't that the schools lacked data to study critical mass.  There is a very large range of percentage of black students in these classes.

2) It is simply false to claim "their model do not incorporate other potential explanatory variables that could affect grades, such as the imposition of a mandatory grade curve or the skills tested on examinations."  The estimates accounted for fixed effects for student, class, professor and semester.  Those fixed effects will pick up all the differences across how different teachers teach and across different classes.  The paper also explains out the grade curve issue biases the results against the results that we found.  

3) Neither the brief of Scholars of Economics and Statistics nor the paper with Ramseyer or Standen "neglect" or hide the one result for Asian Americans that there is a benefit to Asians from more Asians.  In the brief it is noted: "Only for Asians was there evidence that increasing their share of the class after they exceed their share of the applicant pool increased their grades, but the effect was exceedingly small."

4) There is no other evidence that directly tests the critical mass claim.  If one believes the American Educational Research Association Amicus brief, they don't even appear to think that the "critical mass hypothesis" is testable because they don't even think that there is an identifiable "critical mass." 


Spike Lee sued for tweeting the wrong address in trying to get people to attack George Zimmerman

What was Spike Lee's intent when he tweeted: “I don’t give a f— what you think kill that Bitch. HERE GO HIS ADDRESS, LET THE HUNGER GAMES BEGIN”?  Encouraging violence against anyone, particularly a completely innocent party is very scary.  From Variety:
Spike Lee has been sued by an elderly couple in Florida, whose address he incorrectly identified as the home of Trayvon Martin killer George Zimmerman, according to court documents obtained by the Smoking Gun
The suit claims the “Do the Right Thing” director tweeted out the Florida address along with George Zimmerman’s name in March 2012 to his 240,000-plus Twitter followers. 
“While defendant intended to post the home address of George Zimmerman, he actually posted the address of plaintiffs Elaine McClain and David McClain,” the complaint reads. 
“I don’t give a f— what you think kill that Bitch,” one Spike Lee follower wrote. “HERE GO HIS ADDRESS, LET THE HUNGER GAMES BEGIN.” . . .
The couple whose address was given out are suing for "in excess" of $15,000 in damages.



Democrats may be really close to the "Nuclear Option," ending the ability to filibuster judges

From Politico:
Senate Republicans blocked another one of President Barack Obama’s nominees to a key appellate court, enraging Democrats and further raising the prospects of a battle over changing the rules that govern the chamber. . . .  
White House press secretary Jay Carney portrayed the persistent GOP resistance to Obama’s D.C. Circuit picks as nothing short of historic. . . .
Roll Call magazine:
Democrats inched closer to another “nuclear” rules standoff Tuesday evening on the heels of another filibuster vote on one of President Barack Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. 
Several Democratic senators, led by Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, met with reporters late Tuesday with another round of warnings about the chances that not filling the seats on the appellate court could lead to a “nuclear option” rules debate. 
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There comes a tipping point, and I’m afraid we’ve reached that tipping point,” Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois said at the news conference. “We cannot ask people in good faith to submit their names and reputations to this judicial process if they’re going to be treated so unfairly and unjustly by the Republicans and their filibusters.” . . .
From The Hill newspaper:
Reid “is willing” to change the rules but “the question is whether the leader can get 50 Democrats, not 49 or 48, to sustain that motion.” . . . . 
For the first time, Reid has the strong backing of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who had been leery about weakening the power to filibuster judicial nominees.  
“I’m glad that I’m not the only one out talking about this,” Reid said last week when asked about the possibility of rules reform. “We have someone who [has] never, ever been upfront on rules changes — that’s Sen. Leahy, who said he’s really disturbed about what’s going on.” 
Leahy’s support might help Reid persuade wavering colleagues to strip Republicans of the power to filibuster judicial picks. 
“He has the backing of Sen. Leahy, which is huge for this. That’s a really important step,” said a Senate Democratic aide.  
Reid came close to triggering the so-called nuclear option in July after Republicans held up Obama’s picks to executive branch agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Labor Relations Board. He backed off the threat after Republicans allowed the nominees to go through. . . . .
Reid came close to triggering the so-called nuclear option in July . . . 
The Huffington Post has statement from Biden:
Vice President Joe Biden, long a defender of tradition in the United States Senate, said Thursday it might be time to change the institution's rules after Republicans blocked yet another one of President Barack Obama's nominees. 
"I think it's worth considering," Biden said after the GOP nixed the appointment of Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to oversee the Federal Housing Finance Agency. . . . 
Democrats have recently been pushing gutting the filibuster over the debt limit.
Liberals said Tuesday that there may be no other way out of a debt ceiling crisis than to invoke — or at least threaten to employ — the so-called nuclear option, an enormously contentious move that would allow the party to raise the national borrowing limit with 51 votes rather than 60. 
Such a move would prompt howls of outrage from Republicans and could have dramatic implications for the future of the Senate. But it would allow Senate Democrats to pass a bill raising the borrowing limit through 2014 and shift the burden to the House GOP before a potentially devastating default on the $16.7 trillion national debt on Oct. 17. . . . 
Strangely, it isn't clear what the benefit is for Democrats to change this given that the Republicans control the House. 

UPDATE: The National Journal indicates that it looks as if the Democrats now have the votes to push through the "nuclear option."

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Can the New York Times survive? Top talent jumping ship

From Politico:
The New York Times is suffering a brain drain. 
In the last nine months, at least a dozen top reporters and editors have made for the exits. Among them are such well-known and respected journalists as: Nate Silver, who sprinted to ESPN; David Pogue, who decamped to Yahoo News; Jeff Zeleny, who left for ABC News; and Rick Berke, who is en route to POLITICO. That’s not counting the many editors and reporters who took buyouts at the beginning of the year. 
On Tuesday, in a sucker-punch to staff morale, the Grey Lady lost three more: Brian Stelter, the paper’s marquee media reporter, announced he would go to CNN; Matt Bai, the Times Magazine’s chief political correspondent, decamped to Yahoo; and Capital New York reported on Monday night that Hugo Lindgren, the editor of the Times Magazine, will leave at the end of the year. 
The departures have brought the Times face-to-face with a harsh reality: In the new media landscape, some journalists have become their own brands with followings and reputations that are not dependent on the ‘aura’ of the paper of record. Some built their brands at the paper, but it does not necessarily have the resources or flexibility to keep them. Meanwhile, deep-pocketed competitors are willing to pay top dollar for top-flight talent — an issue not only the Times but many large media outlets are facing. . . .
But even before the competition was taking its top talent, it is having trouble increasing its revenue.
The newspaper’s latest financial results show that this is still the case: although the Times has seen further growth in subscriptions, its overall revenue barely budged, and much of that lack of movement was due to continued declines in the paper’s advertising revenue — both in the print version and online. . . . 


American voters say 52 – 44 percent that Obama is not honest and trustworthy, but they don't think that Obama knowingly deceived them on keeping their insurance plans

For the first time, the Quinnipiac Poll finds that most Americans don't view Obama as honest.  The surprising thing to me is that most people view Obama as dishonest, but they don't believe him as being deceptive about whether people could keep their health insurance if they are happy with it.  I don't understand why most people don't believe that Obama was deceiving them on keeping their insurance.  For example, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer has acknowledged:
"We knew that there would be some policies that would not qualify and therefore people would be required to get more extensive coverage."
Here is something from CNBC:
Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, "40 to 67 percent" of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, "the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range."  
That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.
Yet President Obama, who had promised in 2009, "if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan," was still saying in 2012, "If [you] already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.". . .
Megan Kelly has a very powerful discussion available here.

So is it only that Americans haven't followed the evidence here?  From Quinnipiac University Poll (November 12, 2013):
For the first time today, American voters say 52 – 44 percent that Obama is not honest and trustworthy. His previous lowest marks on honesty were May 30, when 49 percent of voters said he was honest and 47 percent said he wasn’t. . . .
Only 19 percent of American voters say the quality of care they and their families receive will improve in the next year because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), while 43 percent say it will get worse and 33 percent say ACA won’t affect their health care.  
Voters oppose the ACA 55 – 39 percent, with men opposed 59 – 37 percent and women opposed 51 – 41 percent.  
American voters are divided 46 – 47 percent on whether Obama “knowingly deceived” the public when he said people could keep their existing health insurance plans if they wished.  
Voters also support 73 – 20 percent extending the March 31, 2014 deadline for signing up for coverage without facing a penalty.  
“President Obama’s misstatement, ‘If you like your health plan, you can keep it,’ left a bad taste with a lot of people. Nearly half of the voters, 46 percent, think he knowingly deceived them,” Malloy said. . . .

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An interesting note on the judicial confirmation battles

Ramesh Ponnuru has this point over at Bloomberg:
One of the vacancies Democrats are trying to fill used to be held by John Roberts. After he became chief justice, Bush nominated the impeccably qualified Peter Keisler for the spot. The Democrats blocked him, and the seat has gone empty ever since. A reasonable case can be made against a minority party blocking judicial nominations, or for it. What can’t reasonably be argued is that Democrats should be able to use the tactic to keep a judgeship open until they have the power to fill it with a liberal, at which point Republicans have to stand down. . . .


Question: if a two cent tax on newspapers and requiring an ultrasound before abortions are deemed unconstitutional infringements on rights, what about everything required for guns?

In 1936, the Supreme Court struck down a two percent tax on newspapers as "unconstitutional under the due process of law clause because it abridges the freedom of the press" (Grosjean v. American Press Co., Inc.).
For abortions, requiring an ultrasound before an abortion is deemed to impose to great of a burden on those seeking an abortion.  The Supreme Court just turned down an appeal from the state of Oklahoma on this issue.
The rejected Ultrasound Act stipulated that at least one hour before an abortion physicians must 1). perform an ultrasound 2). explain what it depicts 3). show the pregnant woman 4). provide a medical description “which shall include the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity...the presence of external members and internal organs….”
Interestingly, ultrasounds are generally promoted as being simple for women.  During the "first trimester fetal ultrasound typically takes between 15 and 20 minutes" and during the "second trimester ultrasound, completed between 18 and 22 weeks, is usually the longest procedure, lasting 30 to 45 minutes."  The typical cost of an ultrasound is "around $200."

So, are a woman's reproductive rights greater than a woman's right to her own life?

Yet, in Washington, DC it takes 5 hours of training to get a license and register a gun.  One must also take a 20-question exam on DC's firearms laws and regulations.  You must also give your fingerprints and submit a pre-owned firearm for ballistics testing at the office.  Additional cost include having to take the forms in in person.  The total dollar cost is over $500.

Alito in Chicago v. McDonald: "In sum, it is clear that the Framers and ratifiers of the Fourteenth Amendment counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty."  Scalia in Heller also referred to these rights as "fundamental."

Bottom line: How can a 20 minute test that costs $200 be deemed of as imposing an undue burden on a right, but a 5 hour training requirement and many hours of filing out forms and delivering them plus over $500 in fees not be considered such a burden?  How can a 2 percent tax on newspaper be deemed abridging the First amendment but what could easily be over a 100 percent tax on a gun be viewed as OK?

The court in Grosjean v. American Press Co., Inc. struck down the newspaper tax because it was reducing circulation of what it deemed to be a "fundamental right" ("it is seen to be a deliberate and calculated device in the guise of a tax to limit the circulation of information to which the public is entitled in virtue of the constitutional guaranties").  The tax on gun and ammunition purchases would seem to have the exact same effect on guns.

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Forget about the problematic Obamacare website, enrollment at 3% of target in 12 U.S. states where Obamacare marketplaces are working smoothly

From Reuters:
President Barack Obama's healthcare reform has reached only about 3 percent of its enrollment target for 2014 in 12 U.S. states where new online health insurance marketplaces are mostly working smoothly, a report released on Monday said. 
States with functioning exchanges have signed up 49,100 people compared with the 1.4 million people expected to be enrolled for 2014, according to the report by healthcare research and consultancy firm Avalere Health. 
With enrollment in the federal HealthCare.gov website serving 36 states stalled by technical failures, the weak sign-ups for functioning insurance exchanges could be due to the administration's difficulty to promote the program as a success, Avalere said. 
The government is due to release national enrollment figures for the month of October this week. Open enrollment ends March 31, 2014. . . . 
Avalere looked at 11 of the 14 states and Washington D.C. that elected to build their own exchanges for individual insurance. . . .


Gonzaga students who used gun to defend themselves will not be expelled, will be put on permanent probation

This is one school that I would appreciate the chance to debate at, especially given that they are reconsidering their policies on guns on campus.  Despite the pressure put on them, the student with the gun still said that he was glad that he had it and would rather be expelled than not have had the gun to protect himself.  From KREM.com in Spokane, Washington:
Gonzaga University will not expel two students for using a gun to defend themselves in an off-campus and Gonzaga owned apartment.  They will be placed on probation for the rest of their time at the university. Students Erik Fagan and Dan McIntosh were originally threatened with expulsion after they flashed a gun at a man with outstanding felony warrants who came to their door asking for money. That man was later arrested. Fagan and McIntosh were told by campus security that they violated school policy by having a firearm on Gonzaga University property. . . .
Possibly the most important part of the news is the last sentence.
The Gonzaga President sent an open email to students on Saturday acknowledging calls to reevaluate the school’s rules on guns.
Here is a slightly stronger statement about the Gonzaga policy review from the New York Daily News.
Gonzaga University has agreed to review its weapons policy as two students who used a pistol to drive an intruder from their apartment appeal their probation for having guns in their university-owned accommodation. 
"As a Jesuit institution dedicated to thoughtful evaluation of complex social issues," Gonzaga will use the incident to re-examine its policy, President Thayne McCulloh said in a weekend statement. . . .  
Gonzaga should consider student safety above all else, said their lawyer, Dean Chuang.  
"We're glad that it didn't have to end in tragedy for them to consider changing the policy there," Chuang said. "Our boys were armed and stopped a home invasion here." . . .
UPDATE: If a robber wants to rob people, where should he go?  You might think that a University would be an attractive target, right?
Officials at the University of Minnesota have lifted a warning for students to take shelter after man with a gun tried to rob a student on campus. 
University police say the armed man tried to rob a student of her laptop in Anderson Hall on the West Bank of the Minneapolis campus Monday before fleeing into the tunnel system between buildings. . . . 
 How does a university solve the problem?
After the attempted robbery, the university sent a text alert at 3:20 p.m. Monday warning students on the West Bank to stay in a safe place. The alert was lifted about an hour later. . . .

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Two seniors from Gonzaga University in Spokane face expulsion over using a gun to defend themselves against a six time felon

The reporter here asks a great question: How are students supposed to defend themselves in the worst case scenario when someone enters the apartment?  The university's response ignores the obvious.  The statement that there is security all over campus and that students are supposed to keep their doors locked isn't an answer.  There was no campus security officer present.  Clearly security isn't all over campus.  These students very likely wouldn't have had time (or the ability) to make a call, let alone wait for the security to arrive.  Great advice on locking the door, but what if the criminal does get in or surprises the students as happened in this case?  The engineering student comment is powerful that he has no regret and would do everything all over again because he would rather risk expulsion than lose his life.

More on the story is available here

Thanks to Tony Troglio for the link.


Is gun ownership declining?: Yet more evidence that it is increasing

The General Social Survey is taken as evidence that despite gun sales soaring, the percent of the population owning guns has fallen.  As I have noted previously, this claim is inconsistent with other surveys and it is also inconsistent with the huge increase in the number of concealed handgun permits.  Well, it turns out that this is also inconsistent with the issuance of FOID cards in Illinois.
The issue of gun permits surfaced briefly in the Illinois governor’s race, when a candidate claimed that the Illinois State Police had a backlog of 75,000 gun-owner’s ID applications under Gov. Pat Quinn, forcing hunters to miss entire hunting seasons. 
The real number isn’t that high — just 49,000, according to state police. But those numbers belie a bigger headache awaiting the state’s bureaucracy now that lawmakers have set in motion a process to facilitate the carrying of concealed weapons in public, as mandated by a federal court order. 
Whereas a few years ago, 1.2 million Illinoisans held Firearm Owners Identification cards, the number has jumped to 1.6 million, state police spokeswoman Monique Bond said. Soon after the court decreed in December that Illinois couldn’t ban public carry anymore, demand for FOID cards jumped precipitously. In January alone, Bond reported, there were 61,000 FOID applications, nearly double the 31,000 in January 2012. . . .



Some data on state sign ups for Obamacare, things look bad even though they are excluding the worst numbers

UPDATE: From The Hill newspaper:
Fewer than 50,000 people have successfully purchased private healthcare coverage using the struggling ObamaCare enrollment site, according to a report 
The figure represents about one-tenth of an initial enrollment target from the Obama administration that has been cited by Republican lawmakers.  
The report by the Wall Street Journal, citing two people familiar with the matter, comes as federal health officials prepare to release official sign-up figures from healthcare.gov for the first time later this week. . . .
Original Post: Presumably these numbers will increase dramatically in the near future.  But what really concerns me is the number of people who, despite Obama's frequent promise, have lost their insurance policies.  You throw off enough people from health insurance and you will force them to go through the Obamacare website because that is the only game left in town for health insurance.  Note that these numbers for lost policies only include those who had an individual plan those who are losing their employer based insurance are strangely excluded by how the Obama administration counts these things.  If the numbers were counted correctly, they would be staggering.

North Dakota

. . . "New information tonight, on the number of North Dakotans signing up for health insurance, under the state's federally-run marketplace," says the local reporter. "The insurance commission says just 30-people have signed up so far." 
"Three insurance companies are doing business in the marketplace: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medica, and Sanford. Those 3 companies say more than 35,000 people are, or will be, losing their existing health insurance, because of Obamacare." . . .
Washington, DC
While President Obama continues his cross country pitch on the merits of his landmark health care law, dismal new data shows only five people in the D.C. area have signed up for the Affordable Care Act – or ObamaCare. . . . 
“A lot of Americans are getting cancellation notices from their current health care plan but they haven’t been able to enroll in a new plan,” Grassley said in a written statement. . . . 
Grassley and Hatch contacted CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Kaiser Permanente, UnitedHealthcare and Aetna. CareFirst reported two enrollees from Oct. 1 through Oct. 30. Kaiser Permanente reported three enrollees from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31. Neither UnitedHealthcare or Aetna had any enrollment data as of Nov. 4 and Oct. 24 respectively. 
“With numbers like these, it’s no wonder the Obama administration hasn’t wanted to release how many people have signed up for ObamaCare,” Hatch said. . . .
In California many have lost their coverage:
And about 1 million of consumers affected are in California. . . .
The Oregon system hasn't been working particularly well.
But more than a month after Cover Oregon’s online enrollment was supposed to launch, reality is lagging far behind Gov. John Kitzhaber’s grand ideas. The online system still doesn’t work, and the exchange has yet to enroll a single person in health insurance. . . .


Lafayette, LA: Armed family members rescue woman who had been kidnaped, fatally shoot kidnapper

Police said that family members searched an abandoned property in Duson, La., and saw Arceneaux inside. When they confronted her kidnapper, 29-year-old Scott Thomas, he reportedly started attacking the woman, and he was shot by one of the woman's relatives.  From KLFY in Louisiana:
Details are emerging from how the kidnapping of Bethany Arceneaux ended. According to police, family searched an abandoned property and saw her inside. They got inside and Thomas attacked her. The family member then defended Bethany, shooting Thomas. Then left the scene with Bethany. Thomas has been pronounced dead. . . . 
[W]e are getting good news from Bethany Arceneaux's family. They tell KLFY she was hurt, stabbed and cut, but is expected to recover. They want to let Acadiana know she's been found and thank the community for the help. . .
I guess that we will soon find out whether the relative had a concealed handgun permit because if he didn't police will have to press charges against him.

More on the dramatic events is available here from the UK Daily Mail:

'We kicked doors down. It was like a movie unfolding,' Miss Arceneaux's brother, Ryan, told the Advertiser. 'If we would have waited, she would have been dead.'Ryan was part of a search party made up of family and friends who were helping police try to find Miss Arceneaux after Thomas, the father of her two-year-old son, grabbed her on Wednesday evening. . . . Kaylyn Alfred, another of the victim's brothers, said they heard screams for help as they entered the desolate building. As the search party confronted Thomas, who was the subject of a restraining order, he allegedly began to harm Miss Arceneaux.In the tussle that followed Thomas was shot and Marcus Arceneaux was able to grab his niece and carry her to safety. 'She’s shook up, she’s sliced up, but she’s alright, Ryan said. His sister was believed to have been stabbed but is recovering in hospital and has been reunited with her son. Captain Kip Justice of the Lafayette Parish Police Department confirmed that 29-year-old Thomas died as a result of injuries received in the confrontation. . . .
Apparently, Bethany Arceneaux had a protective order against her ex-boyfriend and he had already violated the order at least once, but it obviously didn't do her much good.  From USA Today:
Arceneaux had a protective order issued June 17 against Thomas, court records show. Thomas was arrested Aug. 8 for violating the order and also was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated flight from an officer then. "He keeps threatening to kill us," Arceneaux wrote in her June 15 complaint to police that resulted in the protective order. "He put a knife to my neck countless times," choked her, dragged her by the hair and held herself and her son hostage. . . .
This might be one of those rare cases where a gun was used to save a life and it has gotten some news coverage in such venues as ABC News, NBC News, New York Daily News, and CNN


Rep. Matt Gaetz, The Chair Of Florida "Stand Your Ground" Hearings, cites statistics from CPRC during debate

My recent testimony to the US Senate was quoted by Rep. Matt Gaetz during the Stand Your Ground debate in Florida.  He began quoting from John Lott's testimony at about 3:31 into this video and continues until 4:31.  His entire testimony is worth listening to and quite powerful.


Is there any evidence that the multiple victim public shooters couldn't afford help with mental illnesses?

From CBS News:
The Obama administration issued new rules Friday that will improve access to mental health care for 62 million Americans. It's an idea the president said he would impose himself by executive order when Congress declined to pass gun legislation. 
The move comes after the movie theater massacre in Colorado that left 12 dead; the shootings in Newtown, Conn., that killed 27; the Washington Navy Yard attack, in which 12 died; and the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport one week ago. Eighty-eight dead in 12 mass shootings in just over a year. 
Mental health professionals have sought this change for decades, both to improve treatment and to lift a long-standing stigma. Friday's announcement means insurance companies now must provide the same benefit coverage for illnesses of the mind they have long provided for every other kind of illness. . . . 
"Imagine what it would mean if people felt as comfortable saying they were going for counseling as they do saying they're going for a flu shot or physical therapy," Sebelius said. . . .
They point to mental illness and these mass shootings, but they fail to show two things.  1) Did these killers try to get mental health help and fail?  2) Are they really mentally ill?  The first point is pretty critical, but I have seen no evidence that is the case.  The administration hasn't provided any evidence.  On the second point, here is something from the WSJ:
Contrary to the common assumption, writes author Michael D. Kelleher in his 1997 book "Flash Point," mass killers are "rarely insane, in either the legal or ethical senses of the term," and they don't typically have the "debilitating delusions and insidious psychotic fantasies of the paranoid schizophrenic." Dr. Knoll affirms that "the literature does not reflect a strong link with serious mental illness." 
Instead, massacre killers are typically marked by what are considered personality disorders: grandiosity, resentment, self-righteousness, a sense of entitlement. They become, says Dr. Knoll, " 'collectors of injustice' who nurture their wounded narcissism." To preserve their egos, they exaggerate past humiliations and externalize their anger, blaming others for their frustrations. They develop violent fantasies of heroic revenge against an uncaring world. . . . 
In some sense, the multiple victim public killers all want to commit suicide, so that indicates some mental health problems.  The National Institute of Mental Health seems to define suicide as such a problem.


Hardly new, but a detailed discussion on how Multiple Victim Public Shooters crave the limelight

These proposals in the WSJ are very similar to comments that I have made over the years (e.g., see here and here).  Others have also noted this:
One learning point was that some school shooters, like the young men at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, seem to desire a large body count for media attention. . . .
I would also have added in much more evidence from Newtown and other places about how these killers calculate how to get media attention.  From the New York Daily News regarding the Newtown attack:
Law enforcement reportedly discovers a sickeningly thorough 7-foot-long, 4-foot-wide spreadsheet with names, body counts and weapons from previous mass murders and even attempted killings. 'It sounded like a doctoral thesis, that was the quality of the research,' an anonymous law enforcement veteran said. . . .

There has also been a CBS radio news report that I heard that this spreadsheet contained counts of media coverage.  CBS News notes how Lanza was in competition with the Norway killer for the amount of attention that he received:
Law enforcement sources say Adam Lanza was motivated by violent video games and a strong desire to kill more people than another infamous mass murderer. 
Sources say Lanza saw himself as being in direct competition with Anders Breivik, a Norwegian man who killed 77 people in July 2011. . . . 
Two officials who have been briefed on the Newtown, Conn., investigation say Lanza wanted to top Breivik's death toll and targeted nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School because it was the "easiest target" with the "largest cluster of people." . . .
Also, I suspect that Lanza chose an elementary school so he could - in his mind - "score the most points" by claiming the most victims and also get victims who would generate the most sympathy. Other killers have also compared themselves to those in past attacks and hoped to beat their numbers.  From the WSJ:
How might journalists and police change their practices to discourage mass shootings? First, they need to do more to deprive the killer of an audience: 
Never publish a shooter's propaganda. Aside from the act itself, there is no greater aim for the mass killer than to see his own grievances broadcast far and wide. Many shooters directly cite the words of prior killers as inspiration. In 2007, the forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner told "Good Morning America" that the Virginia Tech shooter's self-photos and videotaped ramblings were a "PR tape" that was a "social catastrophe" for NBC News to have aired. 
Hide their names and faces. With the possible exception of an at-large shooter, concealing their identities will remove much of the motivation for infamy. 
Don't report on biography or speculate on motive. While most shooters have had difficult life events, they were rarely severe, and perpetrators are adept at grossly magnifying injustices they have suffered. Even talking about motive may encourage the perception that these acts can be justified. 
Police and the media also can contain the contagion of mass shootings by withholding or embargoing details: 
Minimize specifics and gory details. Shooters are motivated by infamy for their actions as much as by infamy for themselves. Details of the event also help other troubled minds turn abstract frustrations into concrete fantasies. There should be no play-by-play and no descriptions of the shooter's clothes, words, mannerisms or weaponry. 
No photos or videos of the event. Images, like the security camera photos of the armed Columbine shooters, can become iconic and even go viral. Just this year, the FBI foolishly released images of the Navy Yard shooter in action. 
Finally, journalists and public figures must remove the dark aura of mystery shrouding mass killings and create a new script about them. 
Talk about the victims but minimize images of grieving families. Reports should shift attention away from the shooters without magnifying the horrified reactions that perpetrators hope to achieve. 
Decrease the saturation. Return the smaller shootings to the realm of local coverage and decrease the amount of reporting on the rest. Unsettling as it sounds, treating these acts as more ordinary crimes could actually make them less ordinary. 
Tell a different story. There is a damping effect on suicide from reports about people who considered it but found help instead. Some enterprising reporters might find similar stories to tell about would-be mass shooters who reconsidered. 
Rampage shootings are fed by many other sources that also must be addressed, of course. Many shooters have suffered bullying, which inflicts a sense of powerlessness that their actions aim to overcome. Some (though not most) shooters have had prior contact with mental health services, and many give recognizable warnings beforehand to friends, family or teachers. Institutionally and individually, we must learn to take these signs seriously and report them to authorities. Massacres also would not be nearly so lethal without the widespread availability of guns and high-capacity magazines designed more for offense than for defense. 
But, guns aside, these factors are more or less perennial problems of human life and cannot, alone, bear the blame for rampage shootings. In coverage of these events, the focus on insanity particularly risks playing into the need of potential future shooters to convince themselves that the world rejects them, rather than the other way around. The minority who really are psychotic, or just act impulsively, are even more likely to draw their ideas from the cultural ether. . . .

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