After arrest, Michael Avenatti denies LA domestic violence
By MICHAEL BALSAMO and ANDREW DALTON
Thursday, November 15
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, has denied allegations of domestic violence after his arrest near his ritzy Los Angeles skyscraper apartment.
“I have never struck a woman, I never will strike a woman,” Avenatti told reporters Wednesday after being booked and posting $50,000 bail.
Avenatti said he has been an advocate for women’s rights his entire career and is confident that he will be exonerated.
Police didn’t immediately disclose details about the arrest incident but Officer Tony Im, an LAPD spokesman, said the victim has visible injuries.
Earlier, he released a statement through his law firm slamming the allegation as “completely bogus” and intended to harm his reputation.
Avenatti became famous representing Daniels, the porn actress who alleges she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006 and has sued to invalidate the confidentiality agreement she signed days before the 2016 presidential election that prevents her discussing it. She also sued Trump and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, alleging defamation.
Avenatti, who has said he’s mulling a 2020 presidential run, pursued the president and those close to him relentlessly for months, taunting Trump in interviews and baiting him and his lawyers in tweets.
The Vermont Democratic Party canceled events planned for Friday and Saturday, where Avenatti was scheduled to speak, and is refunding ticket sales.
Balsamo reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey in Washington contributed to this report.
Opinion: Get Your Gun, Before Laura Arnold Does
By Justin Danhof
If I told you that a liberal billionaire couple was spending a small fortune to try to muzzle the National Rifle Association and erode Second Amendment rights, you might logically guess that they were from Hollywood or New York City. But you would be wrong.
The elitist couple is Laura and John Arnold. They are based in Houston. And they are coming for your guns.
The power couple behind the Laura and John Arnold Foundation has been quietly funding a broad array of leftist initiatives since opening their doors in 2008. Not as visible as socialist misanthrope George Soros or as vocal as radical environmentalist Tom Steyer, the Arnolds are equally as effective.
Since 2011, the Arnolds have disbursed more than $1 billion to fund causes such as abortion, single-payer health care and far-left “journalism” as well as efforts to defund conservative public policy organizations. Now they are laser-focused on gun reform.
In June, Laura Arnold penned an opinion piece for the Houston Chronicle in which she announced their strategy. She wrote:
“During the next five years, a $20 million investment from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation will support research into the causes of and solutions to gun violence in America. The RAND Corp., a non-partisan and widely respected research leader, is coordinating the effort. The foundation expects another $30 million in commitments from fellow philanthropic organizations to help fund this work.”
What the Arnolds are hoping most people will see is that they are partnering with the non-partisan RAND Corp. Non-partisan does not mean without bias, however. Like any corporation, RAND works off incentives. And the Arnold Foundation just gave RAND $20 million (potentially upward of $50 million) in incentive to conduct a study that comes to the Arnolds’ desired conclusions.
That leads to the question: Why?
Well, Arnold couldn’t help but expose her liberal partisanship in explaining why they were funding “non-partisan” research on guns. She vented that the research was necessary “because Congress more than two decades ago throttled federal funding for gun research, passing the so-called Dickey Amendment, named for Rep. Jay Dickey, an Arkansas Republican and dedicated National Rifle Association ally.”
Her explanation is, of course, hogwash. But it’s been a long-standing liberal trope to try to drum up support for anti-Second Amendment legislation. The federal government can indeed study gun issues. Furthermore, as NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide has explained, “Anyone who thinks there’s a lack of researchers studying firearms has been ignoring the headlines. While most are tainted with preconceived outcomes in search of supporting data, there is plenty of funding in that arena.”
He said that before the Arnolds announced their new project, yet his description aptly fits their efforts too. Dalseide may have been referencing former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his anti-NRA group, “Everytown for Gun Safety.”
Also spending upward of $50 million, Bloomberg has been taking on the NRA directly with a massive lobbying, marketing and astroturf movement. However, there is evidence that Bloomberg is actually hampering his own anti-constitutional efforts.
For example, in 2015, Bloomberg’s group targeted Maine with a massive operation to try to get the state legislature there to pass stringent gun legislation. His campaign backfired. In response to Bloomberg’s anti-gun push, Maine expanded its gun rights laws, becoming the sixth state to allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a permit. Evidence suggests that the anti-gun push failed in large part because Maine residents pushed back against Bloomberg’s big-city persona that seeks to instill far-left New York City values across the country.
That’s where the Arnolds come in. They are hoping to put on a “non-partisan” face to increase credibility for their gun control efforts. But it’s a facade.
The Arnolds have a long history of massively funding extremely liberal causes while throwing a few pennies to conservative organizations to work on non-controversial issues. They have worked tirelessly to look bipartisan, but it’s simply not true. I recently profiled the Arnolds in an Investor’s Business Daily article, noting, “the Arnolds — both through their foundation and their personal giving — are like mini-George Soroses. From abortion, to anti-Second Amendment work, to liberal ‘investigative’ journalism, to single-payer health care, the Arnolds fund the gamut of far-left causes.”
The late great Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once wrote that “frequently an issue of this sort will come before the court clad, so to speak, in sheep’s clothing … this wolf comes as a wolf.”
The Arnold Foundation is presenting itself as a sheep, but now you know it’s a wolf. And that wolf wants to take your guns. Don’t let it.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Justin Danhof is the general counsel for the National Center for Public Policy Research as well as director of the center’s Free Enterprise Project. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
THE NEW ABNORMAL
By Robert C. Koehler
Thousand Oaks, California: a city torn apart by wildfire and gunfire. Both are unnatural disasters.
“This is the new abnormal,” Gov. Jerry Brown said this week at a press conference, talking about global warming and the three voracious fires that are tearing up his state, one of them — the Camp Fire, in Northern California — the deadliest and most destructive in the state’s history.
“Unfortunately, the best science is telling us that dryness, warmth, drought, all those things, they’re going to intensify,” Brown said.
In Thousand Oaks, northwest of Los Angeles, the new abnormal met the new abnormal. On Nov. 7, a gunman entered the Borderline Bar and Grill in that city and started shooting, killing 11 patrons and a police officer. He then shot himself. Several of the patrons, including one of the victims, had survived the mass shooting a year earlier at a Las Vegas concert.
There was no time to grieve. A day later, as the Washington Post reported, “catastrophic twin blazes had formed a ring of fire around this Southern California community. The second tragedy of the week had somehow dwarfed the first.” Thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes.
Gunfire and wildfire. This is a country at war with itself in multiple ways.
The shooter, Ian David Long — described, of course, as a troubled loner — was a former Marine who had been deployed in Afghanistan. Is there a relationship between the shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill and the fact that Long had been trained as a machine-gunner?
The American mainstream media are far more willing, it seems, to acknowledge a relationship between human activity and climate change, including the increasing intensity of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires, than they are willing to acknowledge a relationship between killing abroad, which is called war, and killing at home, which is called murder.
A New York Times story in the wake of the shootings, however, wades into the complexity of this relationship.
Reporters interviewed a number of his fellow Marines. One of them, utterly shocked by what happened, said: “He was a really good guy. He gave me the Bible I still carry today.” But he added: “We were trained as machine-gunners, so you know you are capable of doing something like this. But that he did it makes no sense. It is against all our values.”
Presumably the violated values concern the killing of Americans, which, I fear, is a precarious distinction.
The Times story also informed us that Long’s battalion “saw little action” during his deployment in Afghanistan, pointing out, without comment or further context: “The only casualty in the battalion died by suicide after being hazed by other Marines.”
This bit of data may have absolutely nothing to do with the mass shooting spree in Thousand Oaks, but it seems to say something about values as defined by the military and reported by the media.
When life itself isn’t sacrosanct — when the taking of it is allowed to serve tactical and strategic purposes — values can quickly crumble. Killing people, at the very least, becomes no big deal. Sometimes it’s even, you know, necessary.
A Marine is “hazed” by fellow Marines and commits suicide. The awfulness of this resonated for me partly because it was reported with such a shrug, worth half a sentence. (The Times did, however, link to a longer story about the incident.)
Here’s another quote from the story, from someone who served with Long: “I’m not surprised someone I knew ended up doing a mass shooting. We had another guy recently committed suicide by cops in Texas. Guys struggle. We’ve lost more Marines in our peer group to suicide than we ever lost in Afghanistan.”
I fear the influence of militarism expands well beyond the strategy and tactics that are under its control. The essential value it maintains, with a budget almost beyond comprehension, is that safety, freedom and morality itself require belief in — and willingness to kill — a designated enemy. It’s the simplest possible solution to life’s paradoxical complexity: Kill the bad guy.
Sociologist Peter Turchin has called it the “principle of social substitutability.” After the Sandy Hook killings six years ago, he described this principle in an essay: “On the battlefield, you are supposed to try to kill a person whom you’ve never met before. You are not trying to kill this particular person, you are shooting because he is wearing the enemy uniform… . Enemy soldiers are socially substitutable.”
I fear this principle has spread through our gun-saturated society like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Angry and troubled souls can wage their own wars, and more and more of them are doing so. Perhaps the problem isn’t that many people are troubled — there are lots of reasons to be troubled, both crazy and legitimate — but that so many of them have embraced a simplistic, life-devaluing solution to the trouble.
It’s the same solution the country itself has embraced.
“Mass shootings and mass burnings,” said Stephen Pyne, a wildfire expert at Arizona State University, quoted by Wired magazine. “Welcome to the new America.”
Robert Koehler, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is available. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at commonwonders.com.
Why politicians are the real winners in Amazon’s HQ2 bidding war
November 15, 2018
Professor of Government, University of Texas at Austin
Professor of Political Science, Duke University
Nathan Jensen has received funding from the Center for Equitable Growth, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, and the Kauffman Foundation.
Edmund Malesky does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Now that Amazon has announced the winners of its competition to host its second headquarters, a question on many minds is whether it’ll be worth the incentives offered.
We have a different question: Why did so many cities play Amazon’s billion-dollar bidding game in the first place?
One media narrative has portrayed the leaders of losing locations as simply fooled by Amazon’s ingenious scheme. Most of the 238 cities that made bids – offering lucrative tax and other incentives – really didn’t have a shot because they didn’t fulfill the basic requirements, such as access to skilled human capital, sufficient infrastructure and population density.
According to this view, their role was to provide competition, driving down the tax bill Amazon would eventually pay in the locations it had already selected for its own business reasons. They also provided Amazon with valuable data about what types of incentives they would need to provide in the future as it expands.
There is certainly merit to this narrative. Where we disagree is the notion that the politicians were simple dupes in a game they didn’t fully understand. Rather, our research suggests it is far more likely they were willing participants.
A game of incentives
Amazon first unveiled its public competition for what has been dubbed “HQ2” last September.
The retailer gave interested city and state governments only two months to put together proposals for the opportunity to attract what Amazon described as a US$5 billion investment that would employ 50,000 workers.
Most states, and dozens of cities, jumped at the opportunity to put in proposals. Of the 238 initial bidders, Amazon culled this list down to 20 cities in January and requested additional information and the signing of non-disclosure agreements.
After reports began to leak that Amazon was splitting its investment between two sites, Amazon revealed that Long Island City in New York City’s Queens borough and an area in Northern Virginia known as Crystal City were the co-winners, each receiving half of the investment.
New York State reportedly offered $1.7 billion in incentives along with additional local tax reductions to lure Amazon to Long Island City, while Virginia and Arlington County put up a more modest $573 million. But both locations had something else in common: access to reserves of high-quality human capital and pre-existing hi-tech infrastructure. And according to urbanist Richard Florida, that’s what ultimately drove the decision in what some called a bait and switch.
Putting on a show
While this narrative is surely true, we believe something else is also going on here.
In our book, “Incentives to Pander,” we explain how offering incentives to companies is a way for cities that know they aren’t going to actually attract their investment to show voters just how hard they are trying, allowing them to minimize the blame when they don’t succeed.
To better understand the effects of offering investment incentives on voters, we asked 1,500 respondents of the annual YouGov survey about how a business investment that would create 1,000 jobs in their state would affect their support for the governor. Participants were randomly told one of the following:
- that the governor offered greater tax incentives than other states and won the investment
- that the governor offered greater tax incentives but didn’t win the investment
- that the governor offered tax incentives equal to or less than other states and won the investment
- that the governor offered tax incentives equal to or less than other states and didn’t win the investment.
Respondents were then asked whether they would be more or less likely to vote for the governor in the next election.
Unsurprisingly, respondents were always more likely to support the governor if the company invested in the state. What was striking was their response to the incentive.
A winning bid that included a bigger tax incentive led to a 5 percent boost in support relative to the scenario in which the governor won the investment but didn’t outbid other states. Even more interesting is that a losing bid that included a big incentive led to double the boost of support.
This study demonstrates the electoral value to politicians of making a splashy bid for an investment, particularly when they have good reason to believe their locality has little chance of actually winning it. We suspect that this allows a politician to avoid the potential blame of losing a bid as well.
So in terms of game theory, politicians have a dominant strategy to offer incentives to all prospective investors, whether a company needs a break or not or however improbable it is to actually happen.
Hide and seek
Amazon HQ2 is an extreme case of this thesis.
Mayors and governors offered up to $8.5 billion in incentives as a way to show effort. While some bids were serious, there was also rather embarrassing theater, such as the mayor of Kansas City publicly reviewing Amazon products during a video address to constituents, the city of Stonewall, Georgia, offering to rename the city after the retailer, and Atlanta proposing to build the company a train to deliver goods throughout the city.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo even jokingly offered to rename himself Amazon Cuomo if doing so would help win the bid.
What’s worse is that some mayors, governors and other city officials tried to hide the true costs of their bids from their constituents. Cities such as Dallas and Detroit avoided public disclosure requirements by not submitting bids though local government agencies. Instead, they expressed their interest through Chambers of Commerce, public-private economic development agencies and nongovernmental organizations that were formed only to pursue HQ2 and dissolved afterwards. Only now are they releasing the details of their failed bids.
Austin’s Chamber of Commerce immediately released a statement that they don’t intend to release details of its bid – ever.
And in other cases, such as Pittsburgh, normally transparent governments fought public records requests in the courts, at a minimum stalling the revelation of what was offered and possibly avoiding it all together.
Even many city council members were left in the dark.
In follow up experiments to our YouGov survey, when we told voters what the actual cost of the incentive would be to taxpayers, the vote bonus declined to zero. This is why transparency about the incentives is so important.
The real losers
This is the irony of HQ2.
Our research suggests elected officials will later try to use their efforts, win or lose, as a way to show that they are doing “all they can” for their communities and local economies. When asked for details about their actual effort, however, many will claim the Chamber of Commerce ate their homework.
The problem is simple: Elected officials are expected to create jobs in their communities, but most of the policies that facilitate economic development often take decades to pay dividends, such as investments in public education or providing adequate public services to small business.
There aren’t easy solutions but the first step is to recognize what is happening. Amazon HQ2 was another case of a company playing states and cities against each other to achieve special benefits. It’s also a story of complicit governments playing along with the game by offering grandstanding deals and keeping the details of the deals out of the public eye.
They both played a game – and their constituents are the real losers.