October 29, 2014
Sherlock Khan is Dr. Strange!
He doesn't quite look like Strange but meh, who cares. He's a good actor and I think he'll do a good job.
Just posting this here to scoop Hube on comic book related news for once.
3D printing strikes again
Meet "Reason". A 3D printed handgun. I don't see any specs on reliability so that's a caveat but really, this is getting serious. Defense Distributed is selling a milling machine that will let you mill a lower receiver for an AR 15 with one touch of a button.
Things are about to get really interesting.
Count me in!
Chadwick Boseman is slated to play Marvel's Black Panther in 2017.
If you haven't seen Boseman before, check out his spectacular breakout portrayal of Jackie Robinson in the terrific 42.
Hey Philly.com -- you're idiots
Check out the headline in today's edition:
Attention writer Tirdad Derakhshani: Captain Marvel is NOT Captain America. Captain America and Captain Marvel are two distinctly different characters. They have no relation to one another. None, other than serving as Avengers together at various points.
And you forgot to include probably her most popular former name -- Ms. Marvel. It's how she was introduced when she finally got her own comicbook in the 70s.
A message from Rhymes With Right
Please check out this important post from my buddy Greg at Rhymes With Right.
I'm sure it's absolutely nothing. Carry on.
October 28, 2014
We've come full circle
Remember, he spoke ill of Muslims, taking on Ben Affleck in the process.
Like a good "progressive," ASUC Senator Marium Navid said “It’s not an issue of freedom of speech, it’s a matter of campus climate.”
October 27, 2014
People have had it
... with the pathetically tired "progressive" lines.
Case in point: At a debate for New York's 23rd district, check out the reaction to Democratic challenger Martha Robertson's ridiculously overused talking points line "War on Women":
Even better is her reaction!
(h/t to Legal Insurrection)
The Problem is Choice
This week and next promise to be significant in the ongoing battle over the Affordable Care Act. But before looking forward, let's take a brief look in the rear view mirror.
As previously noted, the cases of Halbig/King/Pruitt/Indiana have worked their way through the court system. In those cases, the Plaintiffs argued that the ACA was written in such a way as to give the States a choice of implementing a State Based Exchange with premium tax credits (subsidies) and the Employer Mandate Tax or a Federal Exchange (Healthcare.gov) without subsidies and the Employer Mandate Tax. It is the existence of subsidies that acts as the trigger for Employer Mandate Tax.
Two of the cases were decided in District Court in July, one for the Plaintiffs, one for the Government. Then, the Obamacare world was struck by lightening, as the infamous Gruber Video(s) were finally found in late July. The only Court decision since that time was Pruitt in Oklahoma. Pruitt won that case and the Gruber video was actually footnoted in the decision.
Since then, the Government has been playing a game of "Where's Waldo," essentially trying to move forward with the defense of the cases but scrambling to do so without the use of the words "Gruber" or "three-legged stool."
Which makes next week very interesting. Nov. 3rd is the day we could hear if the Supreme Court decides to hear the King case. Later that day, the Feds will file their en banc brief on the Halbig case. I can't wait to see how they deal with Gruber in that brief because if they don't mention him or the "three legged stool," they'll essentially be disavowing the dissent in Halbig, which totally embraced the "three legged stool."
Which brings us to the questions I've been struggling with: When the law was being written, what was really the thought process?
The more I watch video and read, the more I'm reminded of my personal experience as a young investment adviser. I learned a valuable lesson very early in my career. The lesson was that the real world is much different than a textbook. If you read any investment textbook, there are always three assumptions built into every investment theory: 1. Investors are rational, 2. Let's ignore taxes, 3. Let's ignore transaction costs. Well we all know that in the real world those three issues are extremely important. But in the classroom, they just get assumed away.
I think that happened here. A couple of years ago the Individual Mandate/Tax was decided by the Supreme Court. What was lost by most of us that day was that the Court also ruled that the Feds could not force the States to accept Medicaid expansion. Medicaid was expected to provide insurance to people who earned from 0-138% of the poverty line. Nobody ever expected this to be an issue. Nobody. It was just ASSUMED that the States would not dismiss the "free money." The idea that the States had a CHOICE was simply assumed away. In fact, the Wonks have been quoted as saying the choice was given to the States by the Supreme Court, not by the law.
Which brings us back to Gruber and the State Based Exchanges. It was also ASSUMED that for people between 138%-400% of the poverty line, they could go to the State exchanges and get subsidies. Once again, it was just ASSUMED that States would not dismiss the "free money." The idea that the States actually had a CHOICE was simply assumed away.
How does this all tie together into a nice, neat bow? The Wonks that built the ACA were mostly brought into Washington from Massachusetts. They built Romneycare and continue to claim that its the same "f-ing law" or the same law "with three additional zeroes."
But its not. The ACA is a Federal law, not a State law. And the Federal government cannot "Command" the states to expand Medicaid or build their own exchanges. Because of the 10th Amendment, the States have a choice. There was no such obstacle in Massachusetts. The Wonks just assumed this issue away, like in my old investment class. From 0-138% of the poverty line would be covered by Medicaid expansion. From 138%-400% would get subsidies through the 51 State exchanges. Period. Done.
However, when the States started to decline Medicaid expansion and the idea that the subsidies/taxes could be avoided by not building a State based exchange, these guys got very concerned. They started using terms like "crazy" and "malfeasance" to describe the States' decisions. I don't think in their wildest dreams the Wonks ever considered their assumptions about the States choices would be challenged.
So all in all, it seems to me that the the problem with the construction of the ACA is simple. The Problem is Choice.
This week I'll be off to Washington to attend a conference on these cases being given by the Cato Institute. Hopefully I'll have some good "inside baseball" analysis to write about.
October 25, 2014
Remember 'You didn't build that'?
Hillary Clinton may have outdone her former boss with this insane comment:
Yes, she actually said “Don’t let anybody tell you that corporations and businesses create jobs.”
Don't be surprised, though -- like Boss Obama, WTF would you expect from someone who never held a job in the private sector??
What voter fraud?
The WaPo asks: Could non-citizens decide the November election?
How many non-citizens participate in U.S. elections? More than 14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote. Furthermore, some of these non-citizens voted. Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.
Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 CCES sample), we find that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections.
But, as we all know from yammering "progressives," voter fraud is a "myth" and certain groups -- minorities and old people -- are just too damn dumb to get a photo ID.
The post-Democratic Senate Obama era
What will be most interesting is how President Lemon reacts to having not just one legislative chamber in GOP hands, but both. All indications at this time point to a GOP takeover of the Senate.
As before, Boss Obama has promised to do what he can unilaterally; from what we’ve seen, many of those actions already implemented are of dubious legality.
Will Obama goad a GOP Senate into impeaching him? I certainly wouldn’t put it past him. But the GOP needs to be smart (unlike with Bill Clinton’s silly impeachment). They should let the president do as much extra-legal/constitutional stuff as possible … until outcry comes from other than the GOP and conservatives, however small.
The president, though incompetent, is not stupid. He knows any such movement or even talk about the “I” word will cause not only a political rift, but a racial one as well. His acolytes in the mainstream press will play up the race angle more than they already do routinely: “How will it look to world that we may impeach the first African-American president?” “How can the GOP hope to ever attract minorities after this?”
Probably the smartest strategy, though, no matter what Boss Obama does in the last two years of his term, is to do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Let Obama’s approval ratings continue to plummet right through 2016 so that a GOP president is virtually assured. He (or she) can then run on a “returning sanity and legality to the federal government” platform.
October 24, 2014
Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer!
Without further ado:
Newsarama has a "5 Odd Things We Noticed" about the trailer, but you won't be missing much if you don't read it.
Here's what I garner from the trailer and from reading various synopses:
-- Apparently Stark has created some sort of defense network a la The Terminator, which in this case happens to be Ultron (voiced by James Spader). Upon becoming self-aware, Ultron does what SkyNet did -- tries to wipe out humanity.
This Ultron origin differs from the comics in that the evil robot was created by Hank Pym, aka Ant Man/Giant Man. As Ultron's intelligence increased, he evolved his body, too.
-- Stark's creation kinda makes sense since SHIELD has been decimated (see: Captain America: The Winter Soldier).
-- The Avengers seem pissed off at Stark, especially Thor. And Stark has to don his Hulkbuster armor to battle you-know-who! (By the way, the Hulkbuster suit bears an uncanny resemblance to the comicbook version from the early 1990s – created by Len Kaminski and Kevin Hopgood.)
Newsarama postulates that this may sow the seeds of the “Civil War” saga which Marvel is reportedly bringing to the big screen next. As you may know, the opposing sides of “Civil War” were led by Iron Man (pro-superhero registration) and Capt. America (anti-superhero registration).
-- Also as Newsarama notes, although there is no direct appearance of The Vision in the clip, we do see a brief “flashback” sort-of sequence featuring Cap. Sharp-eyed viewers of the first Cap film will have noticed Phineas Horton’s display at the World’s Fair scene – Horton being the creator of the android Original Human Torch, which was later reformatted into The Vision (in the classic Avengers #57). We know Vizh is in the film and word is he is Stark’s A.I. JARVIS downloaded into Vizh’s android body.
-- Who we DO see: The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. If you stayed for the post-credits scene in Cap 2, you saw the mutant twins. Quicksilver’s effects seem way cool; the Witch’s “hexes” are visualized by – check it -- scarlet-colored F/X.
-- Who needs to get credit: There was some chatter on Facebook about the aforementioned Len Kaminski and Kev Hopgood getting at least a screen credit for their creation of the Hulkbuster armor. I hope indeed they do get at least that. (Hopgood indicated he and Kaminski got some compensation for the appearance of War Machine in the Iron Man films.) Kurt Busiek deserves a credit as his Ultron story in early volume three Avengers looks to be the basis for (part of) the film. (I know there was a more recent story; however, most recent stuff has been garbage compared to stories from the early 2000s and before.
October 23, 2014
Delaware's own Joe Biden
He -- and his family name -- ain't one of us.
Evidence supports officer's account in Michael Brown (Ferguson, MO, natch) shooting.
But don't think this will stop the idiots and the zealots.
October 22, 2014
Metering, ratings and you.
is really, really late to the party. I will drop the veil a bit and tell you that I worked at Nielsen (briefly) and in my time there I was at the cold black heart of this very effort. In fact, it was my team that created the metric called "Total Line Reporting". The idea being that they, the customers (ESPN for example) wanted to know what their total audience was from AM/FM/Cable/Interwebs in on report. Previously, we broke those numbers out but with online listening/streaming becoming more and more prevalent, they needed new metrics.
Nielsen is, of course, taking this a step further. In a conversation with the CEO he told us that Nielsen boxes are not just present in every make and model of smart tv on the market, but that they track anything that is rendered on your TV. Get that? Your daughter watches Frozen for the 11th time this weekend, Nielsen knows. You watch Girls Who @#$@% $@#$@ Vol. 9 and Nielsen knows. Switch over to Roku and watch Fox? They got that too.
This is called "fracturing" in the industry. It's a long continual change from the Big Three network days. Now we have hundreds of cable channels, DVD's, on demand video, time shifting, console and pc gaming. Each of those are slices of the entertainment pie that is subdividing very rapidly. Capturing eyeballs is very hard for cord cutting millenials so new forms of advertising are being developed. Product placement isn't "new" but things like that are becoming more common.
Here's the creepy part. They have all of Google's data and all of WalMart's data too. They are not a metering company anymore. They are Big Data and they are moving way out ahead of everyone. The Holy Grail for Nielsen is, and has been, ROI on advertisement. Currently, there's no direct way to track ad dollars to consumer spending. There are tons of technical reasons but mostly it's about variables. The more data they can collate about you, the tighter the ad tuning and the increased likelihood you will buy.
The strange upside to this is that you'll never see commercials for products you don't want or need (within reason). Guys won't have to sit through commercials about feminine hygene products and women won't have to watch commercials for quakerstate.
Hell, I'll go one step beyond and tell you they're tracking the ratings according to things. That is, they are going to start metering soda machines to see how many of which product sells in a given location. They will then cross that with demographic data and that will tell them which maker (Coke or Pepsi) should up their ad spend and what demos are there etc.
The eye of Argus is ever upon us and it seems that engaging with the world either virtually or in meatspace means someone is always watching.
October 20, 2014
Remember the "Public Option?"
Research continues on the Halbig/King/Pruitt/Indiana cases regarding the availability of subsidies in states that chose not to implement a "State-Based Exchanges." Its amazing that we're still trying to figure out what was going on behind closed doors 5 years ago.
Over the past week there was a flash back to a late 2009 video press conference of Harry Reid discussing the Public Option. Remember that? As a reminder, in late September 2009 good old Harry decided to bring that up to the floor for a vote- specifically Chuck Schumer offered amendments to the ACA to include the Public Option. What Cato Institute Health Policy expert Mike Cannon found revealing was that Harry Reid would allow the states to 'Opt Out," just like what's being argued in the Halbig/King/Pruitt/Indiana cases. See the Cannon article here.
Also in the past week, video came out from our friend Dr. Jonathan Gruber where he enthusiastically explains how then Senator John Kerry snuck a huge tax increase into the ACA known as the "Cadillac Tax." I've previously written about this and included a video. See the video here. The key is that economists and Kerry figured out that they could place a tax on the insurance insurance companies for certain insurance plans which would get passed on to the consumer, thus taking advantage of the consumer's economic ignorance and placing the political blame on the "evil insurance companies." His words, not mine folks.
Back to Chuck Schumer. Here's his proposal to amend the ACA in order to incorporate a Public Option. The key part is how he plans to pay for the Public Option: "Increase annual fee on for-profit health insurance providers by amount necessary to offset the increase in spending." By no small coincidence, that's the exact same method John Kerry implemented for the Cadillac Tax.
So what would happen is the for-profit companies would pass the Schumer recommended annual fee onto the consumer, thus making those insurance policies more expensive. Consumers would then choose between a cheaper public option subsidized by the Schumer taxes or the more expensive for-profit plans paying the taxes to subsidize the public option.
As more and more consumers chose the cheaper public option, the for-profit plans would become more expensive because there'd be fewer people to pay the taxes to cover the public option. Over time that pattern would continue and we'd have a death spiral in premiums in the for-profit marketplace... which of course would lead to Single Payer.
Well this brings us full circle back to Dr. Jonathan Gruber and the Noblis/Speako video. Also in that video Dr. Gruber admits that the Public Option was going to pave the road to Single Payer. See that admission here. Now we know how.
October 18, 2014
Obama Ebola update
President Lemon's Ebola "czar" -- absent from an Ebola strategy meeting.
And this czar was ... involved in the Solyndra scandal. Lovely.
Then there's this classic:
Be honest -- which guy do you really feel would do a better job protecting us from a viral epidemic? pic.twitter.com/lesxAkxs8a— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) October 17, 2014
We're in the VERY best of hands.
(h/t to Insty.)
October 17, 2014
How great is it to be a Progressive?
Have you ever wondered what the high and mighty Progressive policy makers really think? Here's a great video of our old friend, Dr. Jonathan Gruber, that splices together two speeches that are essentially the same thought. What's interesting is that these speeches were given over 2 1/2 years apart and he uses almost exactly the same phraseology in both speeches.
In this new video released by "Footnote24," Dr. Gruber discloses 3 extraordinary revelations:
1. He call John Kerry a "hero" for sneaking the Cadillac Tax into the ACA when they all knew it would be politically toxic to make Employer Sponsored Insurance taxable.
2. He notes how the Progressives "cleverly" exploited the lack of economic understanding of the voter by pushing this tax onto the insurance companies, thus making it the fault of the "evil insurance company" that premiums are jumping. Yep, he's literally calling the voters "dumb" and the insurance companies "evil."
3. The Cadillac Tax threshold is not indexed to inflation. Therefore, "over time its going to apply to more and more health insurance plans." He's talking about you and me.
What a wonderful world Progressives live in. They can say and do just about anything they want, mock their electorate, find a way to blame others for everything, wait around for their little policy bombs to go off, tell everyone in advance what they're doing, have the media cover for them, make everyone believe that their policies will impact only the other guy, and get away with all of it!
You knew this was coming, right?
If you're concerned about Ebola, you're ... racist. The headline and sub-headline are sufficient; the whole article will make you scratch your head wondering just how pathetically stupid some people really are.
The problem with the west's Ebola response is still fear of a black patient
Ebola is now a stand-in for any combination of ‘African-ness’, ‘blackness’, ‘foreign-ness’ and ‘infestation’ – poised to ruin the perceived purity of western borders and bodies
The biggest racists must be Africans themselves, then, since (as Insty notes) they are closing borders and imposing travel restrictions.
Delaware's News Journal suffers from this
.. but to be fair, it usually suppresses any mention of race -- black, white, whatever.
From Eric Raymond at Armed and Dangerous:
There is an effective taboo against truthfully reporting incidents in which black criminals yell racial epithets and threats at white victims during the commission of street crimes. If not for webbed security-camera footage we’d have no idea how depressingly common this seems to be – the press certainly won’t cop to it in their print stories.
No conspiracy theory is required to explain the silence here. Reporters and editors are nervous about being thought racist, or (worse) having “anti-racist” pressure groups demonstrating on their doorsteps. The easy route to avoiding this is a bit of suppressio veri – not lying, exactly, but not uttering facts that might be thought racially inflammatory.
The pattern of suppression is neatly explained by the following premises: Any association of black people with criminality is inflammatory. Any suggestion that black criminals are motivated by racism to prey on white victims is super-inflammatory. And above all, we must not inflame. Better to be silent.
What the press is teaching Americans to assume, story after story, is that if “youths” commit public violence and they are not specified to be white, or hispanic, or asian — then it’s yet another black street gang on a wilding.
And look -- I understand that feeling among the press. This country has a long history of denigrating African-Americans. But this is 2014. I know that a color-blind perspective is fairly passé these days, especially among the Left but as Raymond notes,
It’s not clear to me that this kind of indulgence is any better – even for blacks themselves – than the old racist arrangement in which blacks “knew their place” and were systematically cowed into submission to the law. After all – if it needs pointing out again – the victims of black crime and trash culture are mainly other blacks. Press silence is empowering thugs.
And of course, the same press acts in the completely opposite manner when the races/ethnicities are reversed. George Zimmerman, an Hispanic, was labeled a "white Hispanic" by the press which clearly served to inflame white-black tensions.
In Ferguson, MO, the press couldn't get enough cameras and reporters there fast enough, and the line "unarmed black teenager" (Michael Brown) couldn't be said enough times -- as if the fact that he was unarmed means the officer was absolutely and without question in the wrong.
Alas, the mainstream media may actually think it's doing some sort of public service by suppressing race indicators in some cases, but on the other hand going beyond reason to find racial backgrounds in others. But like way too many other instances of good intentions, the results end up in the toilet.
And this is if you think the media actually has good intentions ...
Here's how the 'most transparent administration in history' treats transparency
By my count, the Obama administration has secured 526 months of prison time for national security leakers, versus only 24 months total jail time for everyone else since the American Revolution. It's important – and telling – to note that the bulk of that time is the 35 years in Fort Leavenworth handed down to Chelsea Manning.
And guess what? We got two more years of this lemon. Two. More. Years.