Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Thank G-d for House Republicans

Dr. Black hits the latest good news from Capitol Hill:

The House has signaled that it isn’t going to play ball today

And I am no longer the only economist noting that the House–not for the first time–is forcing the Administration to do what it should have been ready to do all along. In fact, Brad DeLong cites Tim Noah,* Scott Lemieux and Jon Chait(!), Aging Ezra, and Paul Krugman and Noam Schreiber,** while Jared Bernstein, last seen being willing to further reduce Senior Purchasing Power for a pair of dirty socks, puts it directly:

The thing that worried me most in the endgame is that the [White House] would be so intent on a deal that they’d lock in too few revenues with no path back to the revenue well, and that they’d leave the debt ceiling hanging out there…. Those fears will be realized unless the President really and truly refuses to negotiate on the debt ceiling and is willing to blow past those who would stage a strategic default. If he is not, and if this cliff deal passes, then I fear the WH may have squandered its hard won leverage.

That last is apparently politico-speak for “look who just s*at the bed.” Thank G-d for House Republicans. Otherwise, this Administration would have killed itself long ago.

*Wherein I mix Hebrew and Yiddish in comments. This could become DeLong’s first entirely non-English comments thread… **Sadly, I take this as more evidence that Slouching Toward Prosperity will not be published in my lifetime.

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Social Security and the current fad of being balanced and comprehensive

Salon writer  Natasha Lennard reports that a sticking point around Social Security stalled ‘fiscal cliff’ back and forth rejoinders between the two parties, but also points out that the topic continues to be on the table (and has been offered by President Obama before these talks a couple years ago).   Notice both parties using the same language of “part of a balanced, comprehensive agreement” as the fix is in without looking at other parts of the budget…these back and forth sallies are bi-partisan in appearance, but do not address the current version of ‘fical cliff’ responsibilities.

A free gift to the political players and the cover of the moment, a matter not even related to current fiscal responsibility, nor to the real world impact it has on poverty and seniors, nor the carefully thought out and responsible plans offered to address real issues.

In what Democratic aides told reporters was a “major setback” in fiscal cliff negotiations, Republicans proposed throwing a Social Security cut into the scaled-back deal Congress is attempting to cobble together in advance of the New Year deadline. As things stand at the time of writing, negotiations are close to breakdown.

Aides to Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell presented the Social Security proposal, which included a method of calculating benefits with inflation. The plan would lower cost of living increases for Social Security recipients. Democrats were swift to reject the offer.

A Democratic aide told ABC News that the proposal was a “poisoned pill” in the current negotiations. However, it should be noted that President Obama has suggested a similar proposal within the context of negotiations on a broad deficit-reduction deal. Such a measure had been taken off the table in discussions over a scaled-back, short-term agreement.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor Sunday, “We’re willing to make difficult concessions as part of a balanced, comprehensive agreement but we’ll not agree to cut social security benefits as part of a small or short-term agreement, especially if that agreement gives more handouts to the rich.”

How do I know this? Well, it is worth the time to follow posts at Angry Bear over the next few months, and to compare the analysis to your own understandings. Bruce Webb will be writing with updated numbers, a must to understand the words others are using, and to gain further understanding of the big numbers used to argue political points of view.

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Dr. Black Did It as a Shorter; Here’s the Data

The problem with waiting overnight to post is that other people figure out the same thing:

If the true CPI-E increases faster than CPI, then chained-CPI is worse, not better.

It’s actually worse than that.  The measure by which Social Security is raised turns out not to be what we usually call CPI (Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers), but CPI-W (Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers):

cpivcpiw

What George W. Bush referred to as “the miracle of compound interest” works both ways.  Seniors see their Purchasing Power decline every year.  So when Jared Bernstein, Sensible Centrist, says:

I support the change [to Chained CPI]—it’s a more accurate measure of price growth (though a chained index for the elderly would be better), and I’m sure it’s coming, so I want to get something for it.  That ‘something’ is an offset from the benefit cut for poor, old elderly.

It would be nice to think he was Ernest Lee Sincere.  But we know Jared Bernstein is not innumerate, so we have to assume he’s acting from malice aforethought, since this took me less than 20 minutes to put together from scratch, including the normalization:

threeCPIs

The reason it took me twenty minutes: ten of those were spent trying—unsuccessfully—to find post-2007 CPI-E data.  But unless Mister Bernstein and his cohorts are declaring that costs for the Elderly were actually deflationary from 2008 forward (at which point they would be correctly laughed out of polite society and relegated to Beltway Conversations…oh, wait…), note that CPI-W (the green line and, as noted above, the current, already substandard, measure) is below (that is, less than) the CPI-E line and above (that is, greater than) the Chained CPI line.

It takes three years–until 2010—for CPI-W to reach the 2007 actual CPI-E level.  It takes four years, to 2011, for Chained CPI—the “more accurate measure,” per Mr. Bernstein’s blog post—to get to that level.

The man who says he “I want to get…an offset from the benefit cut for poor, old elderly” in exchange for going to the malicious Chained CPI is basically saying, “I’m going to create a larger and larger group of poor, old elderly in the future in exchange for a couple bowls of gruel now.”

We’ve seen other people make this mistake (most notably Victor Matheson—who, G-d help us, teaches economics at Holy Cross—in comments chez DeLong), but rarely are we so clearly reminded that not only is Barack Obama a poor negotiator, but (again: see Summers, Geithner) the people he had and has negotiating for him are venal.

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Health Care Thoughts: While We Were Busy with the Election

by Tom aka Rusty Rustbelt

Health Care Thoughts: While We Were Busy with the Election

As we were busy watching the election the Obama administration agreed in late October to settle a class-action lawsuit with disability advocates on Medicare services for the disabled and those with chronic conditions.

Medicare has historically required for certain coverage there be a likelihood of medical of functional improvement before services would be authorized. This precluded coverage for those with chronic conditions or disabilities and unlikely to see improvement.

This is a significant change which, when put into full operation, will be a improvement in coverage for some patients and a major relief for their families. How long this will need to be put into full effect? I am not certain but will certainly keep an eye on it.

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Surprise! Facebook Avoids its European Taxes

If you are as cynical as I am, I know you are not surprised that Facebook paid Irish taxes (via Tax Justice Network) of about $4.64 million on its entire non-US profits of $1.344 billion for 2011.* This 0.3% tax rate is a bit below the normal, already low, Irish corporate income tax of 12.5%.

As with Apple, Facebook funnels its foreign profits into its Irish subsidiary. As the Guardian article explains:

Facebook is structured so that companies buying advertisements on the website in the UK, or anywhere outside of the US, have to pay Facebook Ireland.

As a result, Facebook manages to slash its taxes in other countries, paying, for example,  $380,800 in British tax on estimated 2011 UK profits of $280 million, or a little over 0.1%. What is shocking is that Facebook paid so much Irish tax since it managed to convert its $1.3 billion gross profit into a net loss of $24 million.

As you’ve no doubt figured out, it’s that “Double Irish” ploy again. Facebook operates a second subsidiary that is incorporated in Ireland but controlled in the Cayman Islands. This subsidiary owns Facebook Ireland, but the setup allows the two companies to be considered as one for U.S. tax purposes, but separate for Irish tax purposes. The Caymans-operated subsidiary owns the rights to use Facebook’s intellectual property outside the U.S., for which Facebook Ireland pays hefty royalties to use. This lets Facebook Ireland transfer the profits from low-tax Ireland to no-tax Cayman Islands. For more on the arcane mechanics, see Joseph Darby’s article “International Tax Planning,” downloadable at Wikipedia.

This makes no sense of course, but is, in David Cay Johnston’s inimitable phrase, Perfectly Legal. But it shouldn’t be. And in the UK, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced 

a £154m [$246.4 million] blitz on tax avoidance and evasion, with HMRC [the British equivalent of the IRS] hiring an extra 2,500 tax inspectors to target high earners who aggressively exploit loopholes to avoid or evade tax.

The U.S. should do the same.

* Dollar figures converted from pound sterling figures in the Guardian at an exchange rate of $1.60 per pound.

Cross-posted from Middle Class Political Economist.

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Reading articles on federal circuit courts…can a layman follow?

When I forwarded this link to Beverly Mann I was interested in  following the current thread on civil rights, the legalities of state use of torture,  the continuation  in the NDAA exclusion of the prohibition of the use of indefinite detention for domestic ‘terrorism’, etc.  This note is more a lesson for reading newsy items.

Court rules anti war activists can sue government spies 

Beverly writes in an e-mail today:

Hmm. This is good, but, for complicated procedural reasons–complicated procedural reasons? surprise, surprise!–it’s not quite what it would seem to be to a lay person.
 
The first tip-off, to me, is that the opinion is an “unpublished,” non-precedential one. Which is what most federal appellate opinions these days are. They’re written quickly, often not very carefully, usually by a judge’s law clerk, and, in several of the regional federal circuit courts (appellate courts), including in this one (the Ninth Circuit), written “per curiam,” i.e., the judge who wrote (or had a law clerk write) it is not identified; it’s just identified as issued by the three-judge panel. These opinions are not published in the formal law books, called the Federal Reporter series, and they do not have the force of law in any case but the one in which they’re issued. They can be mentioned in briefs in later, similar cases, but the judges in the later cases are not required to follow the holding in the earlier, non-precedential case.

This opinion is so truncated and so poorly written that that I had to read it three times in order to understand what the hell was, and was not, decided in it. Two of the three judges–William Fletcher and Raymond Fisher–are among the few really liberal Clinton appointees (I’m much more familiar with Fletcher, who is prominent nationally). And both are really smart. So I’m sort of surprised that they allowed something so garbled to be issued in their name, in a case that, despite the attempt to keep it from making headlines (by making it an “unpublished” opinion), was bound to get some small bit of attention (although your email to me with the link to the article about it is the only thing I’ve seen written about it, maybe because it’s Christmas week and everyone’s on vacation).
 
The big problem with the way the opinion is written is that it conflates two separate legal doctrines: A longstanding Supreme Court-created legal doctrine called “qualified immunity” and a very new, and highly controversial, Supreme Court-created doctrine just known as “Twombly and Iqbal,” the two recent (2007 and 2009, respectively) Supreme Court opinions that created the doctrine by,in essence, rewriting a statutory federal rule of civil procedure that sets out minimum standards for specificity in a legal complaint (the document in which you file a civil lawsuit) in federal court.
 
“Qualified immunity” is entirely different than just plain old immunity, although the effect is the same: the defendant can’t be sued. The doctrine of qualified immunity–which the right wing Supreme Court justices keep expanding, notwithstanding their public protestations that they are “textualists” in interpreting statutes (suffice it to say that they most certainly are not)–holds that government officials and government employees cannot be held liable for violations of civil rights unless it already was clearly established in law that their action violated a civil right. Conservative justices and lower-court judges have increasingly required that the action by the government official or employee (e.g., a police officer) be nearly identical to the action at issue in an earlier Supreme Court case or appellate case issued by that federal appellate court (opinions issued by other regional federal appellate courts don’t count); otherwise the defendant official or employee has “qualified immunity” from liability.
 
“Qualified immunity” applies to people who are employed by, or are acting on behalf of or at the behest of, the federal government or a state or local government. It does not apply to anyone else.
Another Supreme Court-created rule of law on “qualified immunity” is that, although there are almost no circumstances in which a party can appeal from an interlocutory order (an order issued before the entire lawsuit is resolved), government officials and employees can file an immediate interlocutory appeal if the trial-court-level judge denies their motion to dismiss the claims against them as barred by the doctrine of qualified immunity. That’s what happened here.
 
What’s so confusing is that, normally, the only issues in a “qualified immunity” interlocutory appeal are whether the defendant official or employee did violate a civil right and, if so, whether the law was clear enough at the time to place the defendant on reasonable notice that his or her actions would violate a clearly established civil right. In this case, though, the defendants apparently were not claiming that the civil rights at issue in the part of the complaint that the trial-court judge did not dismiss–First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights that are relevant to the case–were not clearly established at the time of their actions. They were claiming instead that the complaint didn’t detail their actions that would amount to First and Fourth Amendment rights with enough specificity to satisfy the Supreme Court-created specificity requirement of Twombly and Iqbal (which actually is pretty much the opposite of the level of specificity that the actual statutory rule of federal procedure states).
 
Normally, that is not an issue that could be decided in an interlocutory appeal. But because the defendants were claiming (I guess) that the complaint was too unspecific to be able to tell whether the actions alleged in the complaint violated a civil right under clearly established law, they could raise this issue in the interlocutory “qualified immunity” appeal. And the three-judge panel said, in essence, that the claim that the defendants’ actions weren’t sufficiently specific to meet the Twombly/Iqbal test was ridiculous. The complaint detailed allegations of fact that could reasonably be seen by a jury as taken for an improper purpose under clearly established First Amendment law, and detailed allegations of fact that would violate the Fourth Amendment under clearly established law.
 
What was not at issue in the appeal, best as I can tell, is the issue of whether the military has “absolute immunity”–immunity from liability simply because it was the military, and civilians hired by the military, doing these things. Apparently, the defendants did not make that claim, and the article you linked to seems to suggest that that it is a surprise, or anyway that it is a surprise that the appellate court let the lawsuit proceed. It sounds to me like the plaintiffs an their lawyers feared that the government would raise the “state secrets” privilege. Here’s Wikipedia’s explanation of it:

The state secrets privilege is an evidentiary rule created by United States legal precedent. Application of the privilege results in exclusion of evidence from a legal case based solely on affidavits submitted by the government stating that court proceedings might disclose sensitive information which might endanger national security. United States v. Reynolds, which involved military secrets, was the first case that saw formal recognition of the privilege. 

Following a claim of “state secrets privilege”, the court rarely conducts an in camera examination of the evidence to evaluate whether there is sufficient cause to support the use of this doctrine. This results in court rulings in which even the judge has not verified the veracity of the assertion. The privileged material is completely removed from the litigation, and the court must determine how the unavailability of the privileged information affects the case.

But claiming a state-secrets privilege on this would have been preposterous, would not have succeeded, and would have been a public relations disaster. So, while the opinion is nice, it just doesn’t strike me as a big breakthrough. Then again, I’m no expert in national security law, so maybe I’m missing something.
 
The link to the opinion is file:///media/removable/USB%20Drive/9th%20Circuit%20Deicsion%20affirming%20denial%20of%2012(b)(6)-Iqbal%20(1).pdf.

Not sure you wanted such a long, detailed explanation, but this stuff is so technical that it requires one in order to be of any use.

Beverly

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Let’s cut the crap about Japan’s lost decade

Marshall Auerback, a Director of Institutional Partnerships at the Institute for New Economic Thinking (www.ineteconomics.org) Let’s cut the crap about Japan’s Lost Decade.

As Hill notes, we tend to use very narrow metrics to determine a nation’s economic success: “Americans are the only ones who seem to think they need three refrigerators, four televisions and a car for everyone in the household” is the best way to measure national well-being. I admit that terms like “happiness” and “well being” can be somewhat amorphous, although it is only in the last 40 years or so that we have defined prosperity solely in terms of the metric of growth and of course, Japan always seem short-changed in that regard.

One shortcoming of investment-led growth is the traditional Harrod-Domar issue: it is difficult for aggregate demand to keep up with the additional supply capacities created by previous investment. This is probably less of a problem in underdeveloped economies where improvements in standards of living are badly needed (provided, of course, that the capacities of production are used for internal markets rather than exports to developed countries). But it is definitely a concern for mature economies.

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An Editorial on Robert Bork and his Legacy

On Wednesday, December 19, 2012 Robert Heron Bork died at age 85I did not mourn.

Bork first became infamous in 1973 for his role in the “Saturday night massacre” when as Solicitor General, the number three position in the Justice Department, he carried out, under President Nixon’s orders, the firing of Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.  Bork inherited this task when both Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned in protest.  This much is well known.  What sometimes gets left out of the discussion, though, is that due to the manner in which Cox’s position was created and defined, he could not be removed except for cause.  Doing a good job of tracking down evidence relevant to the case he was pursuing does not qualify as cause.  This was a defining moment in Bork’s career, in which he conveniently chose power over principle.

Most recently he was the senior judicial adviser to Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful presidential campaign, but he is best known for being rejected as a Supreme Court justice when nominated for that position in 1987 by Ronald Reagan.  After his nomination was defeated by a 58-42 vote in the Senate, his name was verberized into a neologism that was [and occasionally still is] used almost exclusively in the passive voice.

To be “borked,” as his supporters would have it, is to be subjected to unfair criticisms based on distortions of your words, actions, and beliefs.  But his radically reactionary views on equal protection and sex discrimination were typical of his extreme and perverse positions. The mere fact that he was able to speak out in favor of a poll tax speaks volumes.  In reality, the borking of Bork consisted of subjecting him to valid criticism based on the precise meanings of his words, actions and beliefs.  Jeffrey Toobin explains.

Bork was “borked” simply by being confronted with his own views—which would have undone many of the great constitutional landmarks in recent American history. As Senator Edward Kennedy put it in a famous speech on the Senate floor, “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, [and] writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government.”

Was Kennedy too harsh? He was not—as Bork himself demonstrated in the series of intemperate books he wrote after losing the Supreme Court fight and quitting the bench, in 1987. The titles alone were revealing: ”The Tempting of America,” “Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline,” and “Coercing Virtue: The Worldwide Rule of Judges.” One of his last books may have summed up his views best. Thanks in part to decisions of the Supreme Court—decisions that, for the most part, Bork abhorred—the United States became a more tolerant and inclusive place, with greater freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination than any society in history. Bork called the book, accurately, “A Country I Do Not Recognize.”

Indeed, Bork’s words and actions were consistently anti-gay, anti-female, anti-minority, always favoring government intrusion over citizen’s rights, businesses over people, big business over small, and corporations over government.  His supporters would argue that these conclusions are based on principled positions, and that the outcomes, however repugnant to idealists, are therefore legitimate.  I argue instead that policies that consistently result in the contraction rather than the expansion of basic human rights, and that continually disadvantage definable target groups are corrupt at their core, and that the negative results are inherent and predictable.

After his defeat, Robert Bork gradually faded away from the public consciousness.  I can tell you, in the intervening 25 years, I gave him virtually no thought at all.

But Bork had enormous, possibly even dominant influence on the modern interpretation of anti-trust law, perhaps single-handedly redefining the scope and purpose of anti-trust legislation.  Basically, Bork was pro-efficiency and anti-anti-trust.  He had swallowed whole the bait-bucket of Chicago-economic-school ideas of market efficiency, and built the entire framework of his pro-trust belief system on that invalid foundation.

It seems fair to say that it is in some part because of Bork’s influence that we now have trans-national mega-corporations with huge oligopolies and near-monopolies.  These corporations have no inherent loyalty to anyone nor anything.  In my view, the oligarchs that run them do not even have a general sense of loyalty to stock-holders, let alone the broader universe of stake-holders, who mainly exist to be exploited.

Efficiency, in and of itself is a good thing.  But it cannot be achieved in a vacuum – frequently there are externalities that are largely negative.  For one thing, the efficiencies are mainly internalized and do not necessarily represent a more broadly efficient society.  Second, as a market gets concentrated, competition decreases and the pressure to improve, or even maintain status-quo efficiency slowly erodes.  This ultimately leads to a situation where big, lumbering and inefficient but extremely powerful entities control the economic and political landscape.  Yes, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Insurance, Big Finance, I am looking at you.

Perhaps worse, though, is the power asymmetry that results from size and influence.  Suppliers, customers, and the public at large are overwhelmed by the sheer might of these institutions, leading to even greater concentrations of power and wealth.

The end game is some version of economic collapse.  It happened in the 1930’s, and – due largely to neoclassical Chicago-style economic thinking that has over the last 40 years willfully unlearned the lessons of that time – it happened again in 2008.

Most of the time, evil doesn’t manifest as some cackling cartoon villain, mad-man on a murderous rampage, or even an unjust war waged on false pretenses.  It results instead, in a far more banal but far-reaching way, from the highly refined ideas of men like Robert Bork who value abstract concepts such as efficiency over the effects the programs they institute have on the lives of real human beings.

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Bill McBride on private domestic investment

Bill McBride offers:

A little holiday cheer …

Discussions of the business cycle frequently focus on consumer spending (PCE: Personal consumption expenditures), but the key is to watch private domestic investment, especially residential investment. Even though private investment usually only accounts for around 15% of GDP, the swings for private investment are significantly larger than for PCE during the business cycle, so private investment has an outsized impact on GDP at transitions in the business cycle.

The first graph shows the real annualized change in GDP and private investment since 1960 (this is a 3 quarter centered average to smooth the graph).

GDP has fairly small annualized changes compared to the huge swings in investment, especially during and just following a recession. This is why investment is one of the keys to the business cycle. (Worth a visit to view the graphs)

The key downside risk for the US economy in 2013 is too much austerity, too quickly. However, barring a policy mistake (I expect a fiscal agreement), it seems unlikely there will be a sharp decline in private investment in 2013. This is because residential investment is already near record lows as a percent of GDP and will probably increase further in 2013, and that suggests the US will avoid a new recession in 2013.
Read more at Calculated Risk

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Norquist and LaPierre: Emperors Losing Their Clothes?

Barkley Rosser at Econospeak offers his take on the current political situation and two players.
(re-posted with permission from author)

Norquist and LaPierre: Emperors Losing Their Clothes?

Two figures have held near-dictatorial sway over a majority of members of Congress for several decades: Grover Norquist and Wayne LaPierre.  However, both may be losing their grip to some extent at this time, although it is too soon to count them out yet.  Both may yet get their ways to some extent despite appearances to the contrary.

Norquist’s schtick has been the pledge he has foisted on largely Republican members of Congress never to raise taxes in any way, shape, or form.  This effort dates to the Reagan presidency and has only gradually gained the nearly universal submission that it currently has among Republican politicians at both the state and national levels.  In the face of the current huge deficit and the oncoming “fiscal cliff” (curb, slope, whatever), some are now making noises about abandoning ship on this.  Indeed, this past Thursday saw House Speaker John Boehner proposing to raise income taxes on those earning more than $1 million per year.  While this was a cutoff higher than the $400,000 President Obama was demanding (which is in turn higher than the $250,000 he successfully campaigned on this year), it was a significant break for Speaker Boehner.  However, in the end he was unable to convince his caucus to support him.  The rank and file of Republicans in the House are simply not yet willing to go against their pledges to the will of Norquist.  Boehner’s clothing may be getting pulled at and a bit messy, but he continues to seem pretty fully dressed.

Wayne LaPierre has not made Congressional members sign a specific pledge, but he has demanded that those the NRA supports do exactly as it requests on pain of facing primary or other opposition backed by strong funding and advertising.  Whereas Norquist’s group largely focuses just on Republicans, LaPierre has worked his ways on polticians of both parties, although increasingly his focus has been on Republicans as Democrats have begun to thumb their noses at him.  This movement has accelerated since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT just over a week ago, and the reaction to LaPierre’s speech a week after it calling for armed guards at schools has been ridiculed widely.  Nevertheless, despite a lot of discomfiture, at least Republicans continue to appear to be completely obedient with not a single GOP member of Congress expressing support for any movement to control guns in any way.  One can expect my own representative, Bob Goodlatte, to prove to be the ultimate blocker of any efforts to change gun laws in his new position as House Judiciary Committee Chairman, as he has strongly stated opposition to any changes in gun laws.  So, LaPierre also  appears to be keeping most of his clothing on as well for the near term.

A curious details is that this authoritarian pair has a curious mutual connection.  Norquist is on the board of the NRA, and both are closely connected to John R. Lott, Jr.  Lott has most recently coauthored a book with Norquist, and he has long been the most prominent pro-gun rights advocate in the nation, much relied on and praised by LaPierre.  His book, _More Guns, Less Crime_ has been cited repeatedly by those pushing to loosen gun laws in many states and also at the national level, such as when the NRA succeeded in blocking a renewal of the assault weapons ban in 2004.  Curiously, Lott’s effort to step forward to defend gun rights at this time has brought much focus on his long record of data manipulation and outright fraud, most notoriously in his creating a sock puppet named “Mary Rosh” to praise himself on the internet over a decade ago.  His studies have come under strong criticism on multiple grounds by many, such as Mark Duggan in his “More Guns, More Crime,” Journal of Political Economy, 2001.  His recent claims that mass murders happen only in gun free zones, except for the Gabby Giffords tragedy last year, appear to be false, with at least three this year happening in non-gun free zones: the Clackamas OR shopping mall attack, the Sikh Temple attack in Oak Creek WI, and the Accent Signage attack in Minneapoli, MNs.  For more detailed discussions of the various fraudulent activities Lott has engaged in see http://www.tnr.com/blog/plank/111063/meet-john-lott-the-man-who-wants-teachers-carry-guns  and http://mediamatters.org/research/2012/12/17/who-is-gun-advocate-john-lott/191855

Ironically, while Norquist and LaPierre may just barely be able to keep their clothes on, it looks like it may end up being Lott, who may finally lose his.

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