September 26, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 3:39 PM


Iran's supreme leader tells Ahmadinejad not to run again for president (Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, 9/26/16, Reuters)

[T]he instruction by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reported by state news agency IRNA, effectively destroys his chances of getting the wider backing he would need to run a successful campaign.

"He (Ahmadinejad) came to me and I told him not to stand as I think it is not in his interest and that of the country," Khamenei was quoted as saying.

"It will create bipolar opposites and divisions in the country which I believe is harmful," Khamenei added.

Rouhani's popularity surged after last year's deal with world powers that lifted most sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Posted by orrinj at 3:32 PM


Glenn Beck Breaks Up With Ted Cruz Over His Donald Trump Endorsement (Andrew Kirell, 09.26.16, Daiy Beast)

[W]hen Cruz finally appeared, via telephone, on the The Glenn Beck Radio Program, it was clear that Beck was wondering: What had I just wasted a year of my life on?

Wistfully comparing the senator's infamous RNC speech--in which he refused to endorse Trump, instead imploring voters to "vote their conscience"--to a speech from legendary orator Charles Sumner, Beck pointedly asked: "Am I supposed to now vote for him or am I supposed to vote for my conscience?"

Cruz stumbled to comfort his old friend. [...]

"For the very first time I heard Ted Cruz calculate. And when that happened, the whole thing fell apart for me," he lamented. "It's my fault for believing men can actually be George Washington. It's my fault."

And then made a jaw-dropping admission: Maybe Marco Rubio would've been better.

"I should have said, 'You know who can win, you know who could beat Hillary Clinton? Marco Rubio,'" he said, seemingly unaware that just moments before he spoke of the futility of supporting politicians. "'He's a different kind of politician, he's young politician, he's a Hispanic, he can win. Let's go for it.'" (Oddly enough, Marco Rubio capitulated and endorsed Trump months before Cruz ever did.)

And then his regrets turned to anger. He suggested Cruz would now attempt to shame him and others for refusing to vote for either major-party nominee. "Why don't you just cover me in a bucket of blood?" he shouted.

"The interview pissed me off," he later asserted. "That was so calculated that it was stunning to me.

"I think I have to apologize and say, maybe, perhaps, those of you who said Ted Cruz is calculating and a smarmy politician, I think I may have to slightly agree with you and apologize for saying, 'No, he wasn't.'"

His politics are as deplorable as the man, so Mr. Beck can't get off the hook that easily.

Posted by orrinj at 3:27 PM


Jeremy Corbyn Re-Elected: Hard Left Kills Off the Labour Party (Alex Massie, 09.24.16, Daily Beast)

At 11:45 a.m. Saturday morning, Theresa May, the newly ensconced leader of the Conservative Party, won a handsome victory at Britain's next general election. It was also the time, the precise moment, when the Labour Party ceased to exist as a functioning electoral force. For it was at 11:45 a.m. that it was announced that, for a second time, Jeremy Corbyn was duly elected leader of the Labour Party.

The Labour Party that has produced six prime ministers, from Ramsay MacDonald to Gordon Brown, is no more. It is an ex-party. It has ceased to be. A once mighty electoral machine built upon the sweat and passion of the working class has been taken over by the far left, a patchwork coalition of cranks and Trotskyites much more motivated by ideological purity than tedious, even banal, considerations of electability. In Corbyn's world, winning elections is for losers. 

The Labour Party is not trudging into the wilderness, it is enthusiastically scurrying to the nearest, highest cliff from which it may leap. This is a party embracing its own downfall. It is quite a sight, the like of which British politics has not seen in decades. 

Their reaction to Tony Blair is doing more damage than the Right's reaction to W--Trump will be gone soon and we'll have our party back.
Posted by orrinj at 3:21 PM


Egyptian official mocks Abbas 'stupidity,' says Fatah 'screwed' in leaked call (TIMES OF ISRAEL, September 26, 2016)

According to the Middle East Eye, the comments were made by Major General Wael el-Safty, an officer in Egypt's General Intelligence Directorate in charge of Palestinian affairs, during a conversation with Fatah's Mohammad Dahlan.

In excerpts of the call which were broadcast on Egyptian Mekameleen TV, Safty reportedly says Abbas's "concentration isn't at full capacity" and he "has nothing to offer."

Safty goes on to compare Abbas to "a camel," saying he routinely regurgitates old ideas. He also speaks of his advanced age (the PA leader is 81), saying "The track is running out, if you excuse the phrase."

He claims Abbas "isn't smart at all. He doesn't want to change, he doesn't want to do anything."

The Egyptian official attacks Abbas's leadership, saying Palestinian factions inside Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are becoming increasingly unruly under his leadership.

"Fatah is completely screwed," he says. "The (PLO) is even worse...It's stupidity."

Posted by orrinj at 1:25 PM


One More Reason Arnold Palmer Was the King : He wasn't just golf's greatest ambassador -- he was its foremost salesman (Geoff Shackelford and Joe House, 9/26/16, The Ringer)

The tributes are flowing and so are the tears. Arnold Palmer meant everything to golf. But few realize what he meant to the business of sports. More than Michael Jordan, Phil Knight, Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods, and even more than his highness, King LeBron James of Cleveland, Palmer was invaluable to translating not just his game, but all games, into our daily lives.

His passing at 87 on Sunday evening has already elicited the always-awkward declaration that golf would be nowhere had Arnold Daniel Palmer not come along. It's a silly suggestion: Bobby Jones got Warner Bros. to fund a series of films at the start of the Depression, not long after he'd experienced the same ticker-tape parades and Time magazine covers that Ben Hogan would enjoy during the 1950s. Walter Hagen convinced America that pro golfers were more than just gambling degenerates. And Sam Snead showed people that golfers were athletes long before Palmer and his forearms started slashing at the ball like no one had ever seen.

The genius of Palmer was less in winning seven majors, 62 PGA Tour titles, and 10 times on the senior tour -- a circuit he validated with his presence -- but instead in combining the best attributes of his golfing predecessors with a saintly charisma that few humans have ever exuded. Someone else might have come along to revolutionize the sports business. But they didn't.

And so yes, he made a fortune off his epic charm and his even more epic blend of masculinity and sensitivity. In attacking golf courses, signing more autographs than anyone else alive, and cashing in on off-course opportunities to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, the King still always made us feel like he was looking out for our best interests. Arnold Palmer reaffirmed our faith in sports as American life at its best, at its most interesting and, yes, its most profitable (at least among ventures not involving the shuffling of paperwork).

Something was lost when we separated the monetary value of athletes from the actual value of their performances.

September 25, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 7:21 PM


Where The Race Stands Heading Into The First Debate (Nate Silver, 9/25/16, 538)

1. Who's ahead in the polls right now?

Hillary Clinton, but tenuously. There were some semantic debates on Twitter this morning after ABC News and the Washington Post released their new national poll that showed Clinton 2 points ahead of Donald Trump. Did the Post convey the right impression in describing the race as a "virtual dead heat" in its headline?

I might have chosen slightly different vocabulary: "Clinton has razor-thin advantage," or something like that. But it's basically correct, at least based on the FiveThirtyEight forecast, to characterize the election as both close and competitive. The ABC News/Post poll is typical of recent national polls, which have Clinton up by about 2 points on average. (That average includes some high-quality polls that have Clinton ahead by as many as 6 points, but also a handful of others that show Trump with a lead.) Meanwhile, in the Electoral College, Clinton is leading in the states she needs to win, but only in those states, and not by all that much. Trump is one string of good polls in Pennsylvania or Colorado or New Hampshire away from erasing that advantage.

To put it another way, a narrow Trump win would not count as a major polling foul-up if the election were held today: It would be within a reasonable range of disagreement among pollsters. A clear Trump win -- or for that matter, a Clinton landslide -- would be more of a problem for the polls.

With that said, Clinton is a pretty good bet at even-money. As of Sunday morning, she's a 58 percent favorite according to both our polls-only and polls-plus models.

...where everyone just needed to be reassured that Reagan wasn't gaga.  Hillary needs to show up and not pass out.  Of course, Reagan only had the one debate and it was the week before the election...

Posted by orrinj at 4:50 PM


Jose Fernandez's greatness in perspective : Jose Fernandez is one of the greatest young pitchers in baseball history. (Timothy Finnegan, Sep 25, 2016, Fake Teams)

Fernandez's career K-BB% of 23.8% is the greatest K-BB% for a starting pitcher age 24 or younger in the live ball era, which dates back to 1920. The bulk of that is built on his 31.2% strikeout rate, which is the best strikeout rate for starters of those ages, and there isn't a close second. Nobody else in that age group has a strikeout rate over 29%.

Fernandez wasn't just the best young pitcher ever at striking batters out, he was one of the best young pitchers ever at preventing runs and keeping batters off base. By ERA-, which adjusts for run scoring environment, Fernandez is the third best starter age 24 or under at preventing runs. His 67 ERA- is better than notables like Roger Clemens (71), Clayton Kershaw (72), Tom Seaver (72), and Bob Feller (73) in their age 24 and under seasons. His 1.05 WHIP is also third best for starters in that age group, and is better than Tom Seaver's WHIP of 1.07 in those seasons.

By FIP-, Fernandez is the greatest starting pitcher ever age 24 and under. His FIP- of 64 ranks better than anybody in the history of baseball, live ball or not, which dates back to 1871.

Posted by orrinj at 4:38 PM


A Week of Whoppers From Donald Trump (MAGGIE HABERMAN and ALEXANDER BURNS, SEPT. 24, 2016, NY Times)

All politicians bend the truth to fit their purposes, including Hillary Clinton. But Donald J. Trump has unleashed a blizzard of falsehoods, exaggerations and outright lies in the general election, peppering his speeches, interviews and Twitter posts with untruths so frequent that they can seem flighty or random -- even compulsive.

However, a closer examination, over the course of a week, revealed an unmistakable pattern: Virtually all of Mr. Trump's falsehoods directly bolstered a powerful and self-aggrandizing narrative depicting him as a heroic savior for a nation menaced from every direction. Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist, described the practice as creating "an unreality bubble that he surrounds himself with."

The New York Times closely tracked Mr. Trump's public statements from Sept. 15-21, and assembled a list of his 31 biggest whoppers, many of them uttered repeatedly.

Posted by orrinj at 12:22 PM


OPEC Under Pressure to Act in Algiers as Surplus Triples (Grant Smith, September 22, 2016, Bloomberg)

More than 800,000 barrels a day of additional crude is pouring into the global market this month compared with August as Russia pumps at an all-time high while Libya and Nigeria restore disrupted supplies, according to statements from their ministry officials. That would imply a tripling of the supply surplus, estimated currently at about 400,000 barrels a day by the International Energy Agency.

"We are overproducing and we're not going to draw down inventories like we thought we would," said Chris Bake, a senior executive at Vitol Group, the biggest independent crude trader. "We're still building crude inventories and that's a problem."

Posted by orrinj at 7:55 AM


The Conservative Media Figures Who Donated To The Clinton Foundation (ERIC HANANOKI, 5/15/15, Media Matters)

Numerous individuals and entities that don't fit the model for Democratic Party donors have donated to the Clinton Foundation. For instance:

Newsmax Media, Inc. The media company, which has billed itself as operating the "#1 Conservative Site in the Nation," has made donations to the Clinton Foundation of between $100,001 to $250,000 and between $1,000,001 to $5,000,000.

Donald J. Trump. Trump, a perennial-potential Republican presidential candidate, donated between $100,001 to $250,000 to the foundation.

Richard M. Scaife. The late Scaife, who published the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, was described as "one of America's leading funders of conservative causes." He donated between $250,001 to $500,000 to the foundation.

News Corporation Foundation. The foundation for News Corp., which is headed by Rupert Murdoch and was formerly the parent company of Fox News, donated between $500,001 to $1,000,000 to the foundation.
James R. Murdoch. Murdoch, the co-chief operating officer of Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox and son of Rupert Murdoch, donated between $1,000,001 to $5,000,000.

High-Profile Republicans Have Supported The Clinton Foundation's Efforts

Many Republican Party-affiliated individuals have attended and supported Clinton Foundation-affiliated events, including the annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meetings. They include former first lady Laura Bush, Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Sen. John McCain, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, Republican billionaire T. Boone Pickens, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Bush Treasury secretary Hank Paulson, and former first daughter Barbara Bush.

Romney spoke to CGI in the middle of his 2012 presidential campaign and praised President Clinton for having "devoted himself to lifting the downtrodden around the world. One of the best things that can happen to any cause, to any people, is to have Bill Clinton as its advocate." He added: "I have been impressed by the extraordinary power you have derived by harnessing together different people of different backgrounds, and different institutions of different persuasions. You have fashioned partnerships across traditional boundaries -- public and private, for-profit and nonprofit, charitable and commercial."

McCain spoke to CGI in September 2008 during his own presidential run, and also praised its efforts, stating: "You know something about great change at the Clinton Global Initiative, because you are striving every day to bring it about. I thank each one of you for the good work you have done to relieve suffering across the earth, and to spread hope. I thank you for the even greater works that you seek to accomplish in the years to come, under the leadership of the man from Hope."

Laura Bush appeared at CGI in 2006 and said she was "delighted to be a part of this year's Clinton Global Initiative. Thank you for inviting me, and thank you for the terrific development work you're doing through your foundation."

Newsmax CEO and editor Christopher Ruddy recently praised the foundation for helping "improve global health and wellness, increase economic opportunities for women in less-developed nations, reduce childhood obesity, and spur economic growth in countries that desperately need the help."

TRUMP AND THE TRUTH: HIS CHARITABLE GIVING (John Cassidy , 9/23/16, The New Yorker)

Fahrenthold and his colleagues deserve a great deal of credit for their reporting, but they aren't the first journalists to take a skeptical look at Trump's charitable activities. As far back as the early nineteen-nineties, the investigative reporter David Cay Johnston was following up on Trump's claims, calling up dozens of charities that Trump said he'd given money to. Johnston had difficulty confirming some of the payments. In 1999, when Trump was mulling an earlier bid for the White House, the Smoking Gun, a Web site that specializes in unearthing and analyzing legal documents, inspected the annual tax returns of the Trump Foundation. Although Trump has managed to keep his own tax returns private, the tax filings of his foundation are public documents. They detail how much money Trump and other donors have given to the foundation, how much the foundation has handed out, and who the recipients were.

The Smoking Gun looked at the period from 1994 to 1998, when Trump's businesses were recovering from a severe economic downturn earlier in the decade that saw three of his Atlantic City casinos, along with his Plaza Hotel, in New York, file for bankruptcy. As the real-estate market recovered, so did Trump's net worth. In 1999, Forbes magazine estimated that he was worth $1.6 billion. "With all that dough, you'd think the presidential aspirant might use some green to benefit society (because those garish skyscrapers and Atlantic City clip joints ain't the grandest legacy)," a Smoking Gun article from November of that year said. "Alas, the Donald J. Trump Foundation has donated a paltry total of $475,624 over the past five years . . . Compared to other business barons like Bill Gates and David Geffen, The Donald looks like a lousy penny-pincher."

Posted by orrinj at 7:39 AM


Investigation: Donald Trump Either Lied To Jeb Bush Or Broke the Law   (Kurt Eichenwald, September 23, 2016, Newsweek)

In the lie we are examining here, Trump either committed a felony or proved himself willing to deceive his followers whenever it suits him.

Trump told the public version of this story last year, during the second Republican presidential debate.

Trump had been boasting for weeks at his rallies that he knew the political system better than anyone, because he had essentially bought off politicians for decades by giving them campaign contributions when he wanted something. He also proclaimed that only he--as an outsider who had participated in such corruption of American democracy at a high level--could clean it up. During the September 2015 debate, one of Trump's rivals, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, verified Trump's claim, saying the billionaire had tried to buy him off with favors and contributions when he was Florida's governor.

"The one guy that had some special interests that I know of that tried to get me to change my views on something--that was generous and gave me money--was Donald Trump," Bush said. "He wanted ca[***]o ga[**]ling in Florida."

Trump interrupted Bush:

Trump: I didn't--

Bush: Yes, you did.

Trump: Totally false.

Bush: You wanted it, and you didn't get it, because I was opposed to--

Trump: I would have gotten it.

Bush: Ca[***]no gambling before--

Trump: I promise, I would have gotten it.

Bush: During and after. I'm not going to be bought by anybody.

Trump: I promise, if I wanted it, I would have gotten it.

Bush: No way. Believe me.

Trump: I know my people.

Bush: Not even possible.

Trump: I know my people.

If Trump was telling the truth that night, so be it. But if he was lying, what was his purpose? His "If I wanted it, I would have gotten it," line may be a hint. Contrary to his many vague stories on the campaign trail about being a cash-doling political puppet master, this story has a name, a specific goal and ends in failure. If Bush was telling the truth, then Trump would have had to admit he lost a round and, as he assured the audience, that would not have happened. When he wants something, he gets it.

But that wasn't the point he needed to make in 2007. The deposition was part of a lawsuit he'd filed against Richard Fields, who Trump had hired to manage the expansion of his ca[***]no business into Florida. In the suit, Trump claimed that Fields had quit and taken all of the information he obtained while working for Trump to another company. Under oath, Trump said he did want to get into ca[**]no ga[***]ing in Florida but didn't because he had been cheated by Fields.

A lawyer asked Trump, "Did you yourself do anything to obtain any of the details with respect to the Florida gaming environment, what approvals were needed and so forth?"

Trump: A little bit.

Lawyer: What did you do?

Trump: I actually spoke with Governor-Elect Bush; I had a big fundraiser for Governor-Elect Bush...and I think it was his most successful fundraiser, the most successful that he had had up until that point, that was in Trump Tower in New York on Fifth Avenue.

Lawyer: When was that?

Trump: Sometime prior to his election.

Lawyer: You knew that Governor Bush, Jeb Bush at that time, was opposed to expansion of gaming in Florida, didn't you?

Trump: I thought that he could be convinced otherwise.

Lawyer: But you didn't change his mind about his anti-gaming stance, did you?

Trump: Well, I never really had that much of an opportunity because Fields resigned, telling me you could never get what we wanted done, only to do it for another company.

One of these stories is a lie--a detailed, self-serving fabrication. But unlike the mountain of other lies he has told, this time the character trait that leads to Trump's mendacity is on full display: He makes things up when he doesn't want to admit he lost.

Assume the story he told at the debate is the lie. Even though Bush's story reinforced what Trump was saying at rallies--he had played the "cash for outcomes" political game for years--he could not admit he had tried to do the same in Florida because he could not bring himself to say that he had lost. Instead, he looked America in the eye and lied. And then he felt compelled to stack on another boast: His people are so wonderful that they would have gotten ca[***]no gambling in Florida, regardless of Bush's opposition--if Trump had wanted it.

Posted by orrinj at 7:31 AM


Pakistani Taliban Leaders Reported Killed In Air Strike (RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal, 9/25/16)

Three Pakistani Taliban leaders have reportedly been killed by a joint Afghan and NATO air strike in the Laman area of Afghanistan's Paktika Province, Pakistani security sources say.

Posted by orrinj at 7:20 AM


Musician Buckwheat Zydeco, who took genre mainstream, dead at 68 (Deutsche Welle, 9/25/16)

"This is one of the world's true genius musicians. A completely natural musician who could just fit in in any scenario," Fox told The Associated Press news agency. "He had this incredible charisma both onstage and personally," Fox continued. "To the end of his days with all the stuff that he'd done, all the awards, he was still the same Stanley Dural Jr. who was picking cotton when he was 5 years old."

One of 13 children, Dural earned his nickname because of his signature braided hair when he was younger that resembled the character Buckwheat from "The Little Rascals" television show. His father played the accordion, but the younger Dural preferred listening to and playing rhythm and blues and learned to play the organ. In the late 1950s, still a teenager, Dural was backing up musicians and eventually formed his own band. In 1976 he joined legendary zydeco artist Clifton Chenier's Red Hot Louisiana Band as an organist, launching an important musical turn in his career.
"I had so much fun playing that first night with Clifton. We played for four hours and I wasn't ready to quit," he said in comments quoted in his obituary.

Zydeco music was once largely unknown outside of Louisiana, where people would often drive for miles to small dancehalls where zydeco bands featured an accordion and a washboard. But Dural helped bring the genre to a larger audience after signing a five-album deal with Island Records in 1987.

Posted by orrinj at 7:14 AM


Muslim Assimilation: Demographics, Education, Income, and Opinions of Violence (ALEX NOWRASTEH, 8/24/16, Cato)

Assimilation and General Feelings about America

Pew found that U.S. Muslims are more likely to be satisfied with national conditions than dissatisfied, 56 percent to 38 percent, in contrast to the general public which was only 23 percent satisfied and 73 percent dissatisfied.  Three-quarters of Muslims also think that most can get ahead with hard work compared or 62 percent of the general public. 

A total of 56 percent of American-Muslims think that Muslims want to adopt American customs and ways of life, 20 percent want to be distinct, and 16 percent want to be both.  Thus, 72 percent of Muslim respondents think Muslims either want to assimilate entirely or partly.  Presumably, much of the desire to avoid assimilation comes from the impulse to preserve their religion and its traditional gender norms from dominant American values.   

Other Concerns

Concerns over Muslims-American support for violence, al Qaeda, or cooperation with law enforcement also abound.  The results of a Pew survey in Table 1 show that American Muslims have opinions on these topics that are very similar to those of the general public and the native born.  Interestingly, native-born Americans are slightly more understanding of suicide bombing than Muslims.  Furthermore, Muslims are half as likely as the general public to have a favorable view of al Qaeda.  The responses to that question indicate that many respondents don't know what al Qaeda is - the biggest surprise.

Posted by orrinj at 6:49 AM


How time can turn $3,000 into $50 million (PAUL A. MERRIMAN, 12/28/15, Market Watch)

The plan I am about to describe isn't magic. It's a recipe with four essential ingredients:

An initial investment of $3,000
A Roth IRA
An investment that's likely to grow at 12% over a very long time
A long lifetime (plus ample patience).

Want to try it? Here's how, using an imaginary infant named Brendon for the example.

When Brendon is born, set aside a lump sum of $3,000. Invest it in an ETF or a mutual fund that holds small-cap value stocks. (To learn more about this check out my podcast called The Best Small-Cap-Value ETF.)

Leave the money in that asset class to grow. And grow. As soon as Brendon has taxable earned income, start contributing the money in the account to a Roth IRA in his name, keeping it invested in small-cap value. That way, at least under current tax law, it will never be taxed. Do this every year until all the money is within a Roth account.

Assuming that Brendon leaves this money alone and that it continues to compound at 12%, when he is 65 years old, your one-time $3,000 investment in small-cap value will be worth about $4.75 million.

That is still far short of $50 million. Let's follow the money and see how this scenario plays out.

Assume that at 65 Brendon starts withdrawing 5% of the balance of his small-cap value account every year. That first year, he takes out $237,281. (Compare that figure to your $3,000 investment.) Because the money continues to compound at 12%, his balance grows, and so do his yearly withdrawals.

When he's 70, he'll take out $323,572, based on his account value of $6.47 million. At 80, the account is worth slightly more than $12 million, and he takes out $601,710 -- theoretically without any tax liability.

If we assume Brendon keeps this up until his death at 95 (his final annual withdrawal being $1.5 million), his account will be worth about $30.5 million. Starting at age 65, he will have taken out a total of $21.6 million. That final value plus all the withdrawals come to more than $50 million from your initial $3,000. And, presumably, very little of it will have been taxed.

Just making federally-funded contributions to a sort of tax-free O'Neill Account for every kid and then means-testing SS benefits essentially ends the program.

September 24, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 9:00 PM


Posted by orrinj at 5:56 PM


Estimating the Impacts of the Trump and Clinton Health Plans (Q&A with Christine Eibner, Rand)

Christine Eibner, a senior economist at the RAND Corporation, led a team that analyzed parts of the proposed health care plans of the two major parties' presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. [...]

Can you briefly describe what each candidate's plan does and how you went about analyzing the plans?

The Trump plan repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA). So we first analyzed the effect of full repeal by itself. Then we conducted three additional analyses, in which we examined the effect of repealing the ACA combined with each of three other parts of the Trump proposal:

allowing tax deductions for the full amount of health insurance premiums;

converting Medicaid to a block grant program; and

allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines.

The Clinton plan modifies the ACA. It introduces a number of policies designed to expand coverage and reduce consumer out-of-pocket costs. We analyzed four of the policies included in Clinton's plan:

A cost-sharing tax credit of up to $2,500 per individual or $5,000 per family to offset the cost of out-of-pocket spending in excess of 5 percent of income, available to all individuals enrolled in private coverage;

Reducing the maximum premium contribution individuals must make to enroll in a benchmark plan on the ACA marketplaces;

Fixing the "family glitch," a quirk in the ACA that means workers and their families could be ineligible for marketplace tax credits, even if they cannot obtain employer coverage without spending more than 9.7 percent of income on health insurance. We model this policy in combination with the reduction in premium contributions.

Introducing a public option in the ACA's marketplaces. [...]

What were the key findings?

All of the Trump proposals decrease the number of insured, increase out-of-pocket spending for consumers enrolled in individual market plans, and raise the federal deficit compared to the ACA. The federal deficit increases because repeal of the ACA would eliminate the ACA's provisions that reduce spending and generate revenue, such as changes to Medicare payment policy; and taxes and fees levied on insurers, medical devices, and branded prescription drugs. The amount that the deficit increases varies widely, from half a billion dollars under the block-grant provision to $41 billion under the tax deduction provision. People with lower incomes would be more affected than other groups. This is true largely because repealing the ACA means eliminating Medicaid expansion, which covers people with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Sicker people would also be disproportionately affected, because the proposals would eliminate the ACA's rule that people with pre-existing conditions can't be denied coverage.

The Clinton proposals all increase the number of people with insurance and decrease consumer out-of-pocket spending among the insured population. Three of the four proposals increase the federal deficit. The amount of the increase varies from $3.5 billion under the premium reduction to $90.4 billion under the cost-sharing tax credit. One of the Clinton proposals (the public option) reduces the deficit by $700 million. In terms of out-of-pocket spending, the Clinton proposals have the biggest effect on people whose incomes fall between 139 to 250 percent of the federal poverty level ($33,534 to $60,750 for a family of four). The cost-sharing tax credit proposal has the largest effect because it potentially touches as many as 178 million people and expands coverage to an additional 9.6 million.

Posted by orrinj at 5:46 PM


No Fortune 100 CEOs Back Republican Donald Trump (REBECCA BALLHAUS and  BRODY MULLINS, Sept. 23, 2016, WSJ)

No chief executive at the nation's 100 largest companies had donated to Republican Donald Trump's presidential campaign through August, a sharp reversal from 2012, when nearly a third of the CEOs of Fortune 100 companies supported GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

During this year's presidential primaries, 19 of the nation's top CEOs gave to other Republican candidates, including former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of campaign donations. [...]

Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric Co., who gave to Sen. Lindsey Graham during the GOP primary, called Mr. Trump's comments about Mexicans and Muslims "unacceptable" in an interview with Vanity Fair last month.

Posted by orrinj at 11:36 AM


What We Know (And Don't Know) About Immigration and the U.S. Economy (JEFFREY SPARSHOTT  AND PAUL OVERBERG, Sep 23, 2016, WSJ)

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine this week released a report looking at the economic and fiscal implications of immigration to the U.S.  The findings suggest benefits for the immigrants themselves and the broader U.S. economy, but also acknowledge costs for state and local governments. Here are some additional facts, figures and findings from the study: [...]

Immigrants and their children will account for the vast majority of current and future net workforce growth. Even so, the U.S. civilian labor force is growing only slowly. It's expected to expand 0.5% this decade, compared with 1.2% in the 1990s and 0.7% in the 2000s. That has significant implications for overall economic growth as well as funding for programs like Social Security.

The panel didn't look at immigrants' social or cultural impact that may have economic effects. For instance, 59% of immigrants over 15 are married versus just 48% of natives.

Posted by orrinj at 10:54 AM


Read Vin Scully's touching farewell letter to Dodgers fans (Jason Foster,  Sep. 23, 2016, Sporting News)

Posted by orrinj at 10:39 AM


Trump Stumbles on Good Idea: Take Away Harvard's Tax Breaks (Eric Levitz, 9/24/16, New York)

A broken clock is right twice a day. Donald Trump is correct far less often. But he does, on occasion, have himself a point.

Your average elite university has become an enormous hedge fund with a side business in research and education. Harvard spends roughly $800 million on research every year -- and $4.2 billion in total operating expenses. As New York's Annie Lowrey notes, the university has used its wealth to buy up enormous amounts of land in Cambridge, driving up real-estate prices while contributing little, if anything, in property tax. Revoking its nonprofit status would provide the state of Massachusetts with an additional $80 million a year. Considering that Harvard recently spent a billion dollars renovating its student dorms, the Bay State can probably be trusted to find a more socially useful way to invest that $80 million.

Posted by orrinj at 10:31 AM


Rafsanjani takes aim at Iranian military spending amid furor  (Saeid Jafari, September 23, 2016, Al Monitor)

The chair of Iran's Expediency Council, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, delivered the following remarks Aug. 10 at the 33rd Summit of Managers and Heads of Education in the Country, organized by the Ministry of Education:

Today, you can see that Germany and Japan have the strongest economies in the world. These same two countries were prohibited from having military forces after the Second World War. When a country is at war, it spends so much money on its military. With no military spending, these countries could use that extra money on science and production and were able to create a science-based economy for themselves. As a result, they are no longer fragile. The door has been opened to a similar process in Iran. Managers, teachers, and concerned citizens should use this opportunity. I am sure that we can get there during President [Hassan] Rouhani's second term.

And for the same reason : the protective cover of American alliance.

Posted by orrinj at 10:18 AM


Why Ted Cruz Is Finally Endorsing Donald Trump (Ed Kilgore, 9/24/16, New York)

At The Atlantic, Russell Berman suggests Cruz is worried about his reelection bid in 2018, and the possibility of a primary challenge fed by the parallel grudges that Establishment Republicans and Trumpites hold against the junior senator from Texas.

It is the changing dynamics of the presidential general election, however, that may well be pushing Cruz toward at least a pro forma gesture toward his party's nominee. By that I do not mean that Cruz is gaming the possibility that Trump will win; no matter what he does now, the Texan will almost certainly be frozen out of any real influence in a Trump administration. It's the significant likelihood of a narrow Trump loss that is probably bugging Cruz and his advisers. It was one thing to stay on the sidelines and watch sadly as Trump self-destructed and lost by a landslide, as appeared likely for a good part of the general-election campaign. In that scenario, Cruz was in a good position to help pick up the pieces afterward and become the chief advocate for a movement-conservative version of the GOP's post-Trump future. But after an agonizingly close Trump defeat, Cruz would become a prime object of recriminations for having helped Hillary Clinton and her baby-killing, Christian-hating secular-socialist minions to seize power.

Given that his own politics is driven primarily by the same racial and religious hatreds as Trump's, the only reason not to endorse him was petty personal hurts.  Serious politicians should be above such things and able to support those who are vindicating their beliefs.

The Senator has to endorse him for all the same reasons that conservatives have to oppose him.

Posted by orrinj at 10:11 AM


Clinton's eyes -- a window into her health issues (John R. Coppedge, 9/22/16, The Hill)

It appears that she has a problem with her left sixth cranial nerve. That nerve serves only one function and that is to make the lateral rectus muscle contract. That muscle turns the eye in the direction away from the midline. 

It comes out of the base of the brain and runs along the floor of the skull, immediately beneath the brain before coursing upward to the eye. Dysfunction of that muscle causes the striking picture of the eyes not aiming in the same direction and causes the patient to suffer double vision.

Like all things medical, there is a long list of potential causes but in my opinion the most likely one, based on Clinton's known medical history is an intermittent lateral rectus palsy caused by damage to or pressure on her sixth cranial nerve.

It is known that she suffered a traumatic brain injury in late 2012 when she fell and struck her head. What is also known is that she was diagnosed with a transverse sinus thrombosis -- blood clot in the major vein at the base of the brain. Almost all patients with a transverse sinus thrombosis suffer swelling of the brain and increased intracranial pressure. Most have headaches, balance issues and visual disturbances -- all of which Clinton was reported to have following that event.

Clinton's physician reported that she was placed on Coumadin (a blood thinner) to dissolve the blood clot. Actually, that is incorrect, because Coumadin has no effect on an existing clot. It serves only to decrease the chance of further clotting occurring Clinton's physician has also reported that on follow up exam, the clot had resolved. That is surprising since the majority of such clots do not dissolve. The way it was documented that the clot had resolved has not been reported.

If, as is statistically likely, Clinton's transverse sinus is still blocked, she would still have increased pressure and swelling and decreased blood flow to her brain. That swelling would place pressure on the exposed portion of the sixth cranial nerve at the base of her brain, explaining the apparent lateral rectus palsy. And such a deficit can be partial and/or intermittent. 

Additionally, when patients who have decreased intracranial blood flow becoming volume depleted (dehydrated) or have a drop in blood pressure loss of consciousness can occur. That could explain her witnessed collapse in New York City on 9/11. [...]

It would be very helpful if Clinton agreed to an independent exam and to have the questions raised here answered. 

Posted by orrinj at 10:01 AM


Monetarists are out of ideas (Noah Smith, 9/24/16, Live Mint)

Maybe doubling down on activist monetary policy would work, but another possibility is that the standard theory of how monetary policy works--the general idea that low interest rates stimulate both inflation and the real economy--is broken.

I have no idea whether Williamson's Neo-Fisherism is the answer. An alternative possibility is that monetary policy just doesn't do very much when interest rates are very low.

Perhaps the premium of corporate bond rates over government rates diverges when rates get low. Maybe interest on bank reserves changes the equation. Or maybe the institutional peculiarities of the banking system prevent low rates, quantitative easing and forward guidance from having much of an effect.

Perhaps Fed policy affects expectations in ways that are very hard for us to understand, that end up cancelling out much of monetary policy's intended effect.

But whatever's going on, I don't foresee the conventional wisdom, or the instincts of central bankers, changing very much. I predict that policymakers, and mainstream macroeconomics, will continue to believe that low interest rates encourage both inflation and growth, and that high rates do the opposite.

Rather, inflation is the cause of higher rates and deflation, while it causes lower rates, actually hides how high real rates are.

Posted by orrinj at 9:49 AM


What One Man Learned Attending Both The RNC And Gathering Of The Juggalos In One Week : "Two sets of clowns, two divergent worldviews." Author Nathan Rabin crosses societal screams with his new book, 7 Days in Ohio. (JOE BERKOWITZ 09.23.16, Fast Company)

"Both events felt very influenced by wrestling. Insane Clown Posse used to be involved with the WWE, and there's a wrestling ring at the Gathering of the Juggalos, but also don't forget that Trump is a Hall of Famer at the WWE. He's a performer," Rabin says. "Both events kind of had the vibe of cult meetings, too. There's a lot of chanting, but the chanting is very different. At the Gathering, people will be chanting 'Fam-i-ly! Fam-i-ly!' or 'Magic magic ninja what!' It's about community, and there's affection there. People were chanting to affirm themselves and their experience and just be generally positive. At the RNC, when people would chant things, it was terrifying. It made me feel scared--it played to this hatred of women, more than anything. 'Lock her up!' There's this hatred that kind of goes beyond the pale and becomes frightening. 'Build a wall!' These are all just incredibly negative things. When people were chanting at the RNC, they wanted to hurt or punish somebody."

"I wouldn't say Insane Clown Posse are totally Christian, but they do promote a Judeo-Christian theology. It's almost like AA, where you just have to have faith in something bigger than yourself. The form of Christianity at the Republican National Convention just took the form of flat-out hate. The Westboro Baptist Church--the God Hates [****] people--were there, but they kind of lost some of their mojo because everybody was saying horrible things about homosexuals. There were a lot of signs like 'Sodomites roast in hell.' I think Trump's a fake-Christian. I think he is obviously a debauched sinner who realized that in 2016, if you wanna get elected as a Republican, you better start talking about how much you love Jesus and your favorite book is the Bible."

"These events are funhouse mirror reflections of each other--they're spectacles, very vulgar, populist, and they're about appealing directly to the base, but in different ways," Rabin says. "Here we have the party of the establishment, one of these two giant parties who have dominated American politics, and it has sort of compressed itself into the fringe. To say you support the Republican presidential nominee this year is to make a kind of extreme and radical statement and that's crazy. While this party is descending into madness, the Juggalos are starting to get at least a little more activist-minded and respectable. They've never been more political, working together on this case to counter the FBI."

Posted by orrinj at 9:14 AM


The Slow Slide Into Single-Payer Health Care (IB Times, 9/24/16)

For decades, liberal Democrats have been advocating a single-payer health care system where government pays all the bills. The public has never supported this idea, but it looks like the country is headed there anyway, slowly but surely.

The latest data from the Census Bureau show that just since President Obama took office, the number of Americans getting health care through a government program -- Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, etc. -- shot up by 32 million (an increase of more than 32%).

In contrast, the number of people getting coverage from private insurers has gone up 11.6 million (a gain of less than 6%).

The Congressional GOP's strategy of just trying to obstruct the UR--who they imagined an illegitimate and temporary figure, just as Democrats considered W--meant that they offered no alternatives to things like immigration reform and Obamacare, both 60-40 issues.  The former left room for Trump to rise, which will at least cost this eminently winnable presidential, potentially both houses of Congress and who knows what long term damage with everyone but older white men. The latter has just served to make an eventual National Health system more likely, where universal HSAs would have been preferable.  

Posted by orrinj at 9:09 AM


'What's red and can't be trusted at Number Ten?' - Twitter reacts to Rooney benching (Ronan Murphy, Sep 24, 2016, Goal)

Posted by orrinj at 9:03 AM


The New Know-Nothings (The Editors, 10/03/16, American)

It was a time of great economic uncertainty and political turmoil. The next election promised to move the nation closer to a terrible precipice, and the native-born were frustrated by their diminished status, one accelerated by an apparently endless flow of newcomers who seemed destined to dislocate and replace them. Cries of "America for Americans" rose across the anxious republic.

Was that 1856 or last week? It appears it has been both. Responding to the "dog whistling"--or worse--of politicians, the xenophobia and neo-nativism of the so-called alt-right, thinly veiled as a political position, has emerged from the murk of the internet. The alt-right's message has found an especially receptive audience among white males frustrated by reduced economic prospects and a perception of a loosening hold of white hegemony in U.S. society.

Voices from within this fringe sometimes bluntly promote hate and a juvenile, pseudo-scientific delusion of the superiority of European culture, denigrating others as polluters or diminishers of its greatness. But the Hispanic presence in the New World is old and deep enough to rival any Anglo claim to cultural legitimacy on these shores. Of course it is not as old as that of the "Americans" regularly ignored by such competing claims of authenticity: the indigenous people whose cruel eradication made room for everyone else in the first place.

The reek of this creed of tribalism and intolerance should be instantly recognizable to modern-day Catholics. To the Know-Nothings, Irish Catholics came to America merely as paupers or felons in service to a Romish plot to undermine American liberty through the ballot box. Recycling 19th-century nativist headlines would require little more than the adjustment of a few words: Replace Irish with Mexican, Catholic with Muslim.

It's easy to forget that it took a hundred and fifty years from that point to Reform the Church so that it accepted democracy, capitalism (John Paul II) and protestantism (Benedict).  We'll Reform the Sunni much more quickly.  

Posted by orrinj at 8:51 AM


Four al Qaeda members killed in suspected U.S. drone strike: officials (Reuters, 9/24/16)

They said the attack in Marib province, controlled by forces loyal to exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, occurred late on Friday. A local commander of the militant Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), known as Abu Khaled al-Sanaani, was killed along with three associates, they said.

It was the second drone strike in two days to target a local commander of the Islamist militant group regarded by U.S. officials as one of the most dangerous branches of al Qaeda.

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