Friday, January 31, 2014

Game theory and Jeopardy!

This is a specialized blog: "The Final Wager."  It (mostly) concerns itself with how a player should bet during Final Jeopardy.

Train wreck

Daily Caller: "Pelosi acts as if she is powerless in disaster 'Daily Show' appearance."  To his credit, Stewart keeps trying to press the point that the case for Big Government requires some level of competency on those who would expand the government.  Pelosi blames the Republicans (of course) and then actually says things like "It's not my responsibility" and "I don't know" to simple questions.

Extra - From the Free Beacon.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Couldn't happen to a worser network

If you're a conservative who loathes everything about NBC, you'll enjoy watching its death spasms.  All their semi-popular shows are circling the drain, "Meet the Press" has historically low ratings, and now "MSNBC and Its Subsidiary NBCNews Fall to Bottom of Poll on Public Trust in News Organizations."

Totally worth it

Fox News: "California spends $1.37 million on Obamacare web stream featuring Richard Simmons."  I just found out that Olivia Wilde was also in this video and I can think of many ways that she could have convinced Californians to sign up for health care.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Whole lot of mumblin' goin' on

This takedown of Harvard-educated Matt Yglesias' writing style (hat tip: Maggie's Farm) is laugh-out-loud funny if only for the well-written insults within:
All aspiring writers should read Slate’s Matt Yglesias. There’s no better way to stress the importance of not writing like Matt Yglesias.

That doesn’t jump off the page, but at least it doesn’t appear to be written by a college sophomore on an Adderall jag.

Yglesias’ writing is also cluttered like a hoarder’s living room with instances of “I think,” “in my opinion,” “something I find,” and other redundant phrases. Readers can discern whose opinion is being presented by the name at the top of the article.
This last one is a pet peeve of mine.  I know that this is an opinion piece and I also know you're writing it.  You need not worry that I'll mistake your blather for gospel.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The NY Times is the MSNBC of print

What happened to the New York Times?  When I was growing up in New Jersey it was considered the "Paper of Record" and an unimpeachable source.  Sure it leaned to the Left but nothing like the current incarnation which is a straight echo of White House talking points.  But it goes beyond regurgitating Jay Carney: the Times is now actively agitating against opposing viewpoints, the First Amendment be damned.  Powerline took on the Decrepit Old Lady's latest editorial in: "The NY Times Editorial Board: Bitter Opponents of Free Speech."  In this example, the Times tries to defend the outright lies of a Michigan Democrat running for the Senate:
More temperate, sophisticated commentary from what used to be the Paper of Record, and is now the Paper of Partisan Hysterics.

It accuses Mr. Peters of lying when he said the law bars cancellations of insurance policies. Mr. Peters happened to be right, as millions of people who once faced losing all insurance after they got sick now appreciate. The 225,000 Michigan residents who the ad said received “cancellation notices” were actually told that they could change to a better policy; they were not told they could no longer have insurance, as the ad implies.

This is a laughable argument, even by the Times’s low standards. Millions of Americans, including hundreds of thousands in Michigan, lost their health insurance coverage because their policies were terminated. They were terminated because under Obamacare, it was illegal to sell them. The paper’s argument–they weren’t cancelled, they were only terminated!–is fatuous. And who could write this line with a straight face?
The Volokh Conspiracy - now at the Washington Post - expands on this illogic:
You haven’t been divorced, you’ve been given the opportunity to change to a better spouse.
You haven’t been expelled, you’ve been given the opportunity to change to a better school.
You haven’t been evicted, you’ve been given the opportunity to change to a better apartment.
You haven’t received a cancellation notice for your pre-Obamacare insurance policy, you’ve been given the opportunity to “change to a better policy.”
Has it really come to this, NY Times?  At long last, have you left no sense of objectivity?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

You're an idiot

So says that shrimp at the NY Times: "The condescension of Paul Krugman."  "Just to get citizens into a suitably docile condition to receive the President’s State of the Union address, Paul Krugman reminds them in a recent New York Times column that they aren’t bright enough to criticize government policy."  A recent column?  He's been writing the same column for four years now.

Burgertime!

The Economist has their yearly Big Mac Index showing the purchasing power parity between different countries.  It's a think piece on the cost of materials, labor, and currency values.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Yay - you voted for the cool guy!

Here's Ben Domenech in the Federalist: "Congratulations, Progressive Millennials: You're the cheapest date in town."
Today, one out of three of Millennials aged 18-31, the young progressives who gave Obama’s campaign its inspirational heart and voted for him overwhelmingly, are living at home with their parents. They put their heart and soul into campaign after campaign, believing they could change the country and the planet. And after all their effort, what do they have to show for it? “Free” birth control that you have to pay for in higher premiums to big insurance? Talk about a cheap date.
Don't forget the cheap college loans and soaring student debt.  You're welcome kids.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

B-b-baby you ain't seen nothin' yet

Megan McArdle: "Resolved: Obamacare is now beyond rescue."  "The law still lacks the political legitimacy to survive in the long term. And in a bid to increase that legitimacy, the administration has set two very dangerous precedents: It has convinced voters that no unpopular provisions should ever be allowed to take effect, and it has asserted an executive right to rewrite the law, which Republicans can just as easily use to unravel this tangled web altogether."

The newly-hired company Accenture has two months to fix a health care system that couldn't be built over three-and-a-half years.

Extra - From Q&O.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lying about Social Security

It's a slow news day so let's go to my old standby topic.  WashPost: "Democratic PAC plays an unwarranted ‘scare seniors’ card on Social Security." The attack ads are starting early in Arizona and we're already up to three Pinocchios.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, both The Fact Checker and FactCheck.org were highly critical of the Obama campaign for asserting that McCain supported a plan that would put Social Security in the stock market. FactCheck.org said the claim was “deceptive” and The Fact Checker (then written by Michael Dobbs) said it was worthy of Three Pinocchios.
Yet here it is, six years later, and Democrats are still using the same old playbook of scaring seniors. Polling must show that such false attacks work.
Yup.  The voting seniors go ballistic at every mendacity while younger voters - who will see their benefits cut - keep Twittering for their buddy in the White House.  Although maybe that's finally changing.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dilemma

Damn, this Seattle-San Francisco game is really good.  But...Downton Abbey.

This story about pistachio thieves is just...what's the word I'm looking for?

Crazy.  Boston Globe: "California nut farmers band together to fight theft, organized crime."
The soaring value of California’s nut crops is attracting a new breed of thieves who have been making off with the pricey commodities by the truckload, recalling images of cattle rustlers of bygone days.
This harvest season in the Central Valley, thieves cut through a fence and hauled off $400,000 in walnuts. Another $100,000 in almonds was stolen by a driver with a fake license. And $100,000 in pistachios was taken by a big rig driver who left a farm without filling out any paperwork.
Sounds to me like some kind of shell game.  I hope they crack the case.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Instead of "Hail to the Chief" they should play "What's Going On?"

The Corner: "Our perpetually surprised President"
While President Obama gives (yet another) speech today on NSA surveillance, the New York Times reports White House aides say “Mr. Obama was surprised to learn after the leaks by Edward J.Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, just how far the surveillance had gone.”
Our president’s time in office has been one of wonder and astonishment.
He's shocked...shocked!...at what he saw on the news.

Factcheckin' ain't easy

The WashPost Fact Checker announced that he was duped by the Administration's bogus (is there any other kind) Obamacare sign-up numbers.  Hot Air: "WaPo gives 3 Pinocchios to Medicaid-enrollment claim … and itself."

It's almost like he wanted to believe it was true and suppressed his journalistic objectivity.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

All the news that's fit to save Hillary

Politico: "'Journalism has died' at New York Times: Graham, McCain slam Benghazi report"
Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain harshly criticized The New York Times on Thursday over a recent report which concluded that Al Qaeda was not involved in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
In remarks on the Senate floor, Graham said "journalism has died at this paper," while McCain called the paper "an ever-reliable surrogate for the Obama administration."
In a fit of insanity, I recently read a NY Times editorial (no link) that tried to explain away December's awful jobs report.  It was like reading Pravda on West 43rd Street, as dictated by David Axelrod, and indistinguishable from a White House press release.  There was literally no daylight between the two which depends on bringing back jobs by making labor more expensive (raising minimum wage).  Don't these midtown clowns have any self-respect at all?

Related - Fiscal Times: "We finally know where the buck stops in Benghazi."  Media: "Where's dat?"

Just get the NSA to scan everybody's computers

Geez, can't Obama just sign an executive order to make it so?  Legal Insurrection: "Just like Amazon.com, Obamacare has no idea who has paid for stuff already shipped … oh, wait."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

You keep using that word "deadline"


I do not think it means what you think it means.  The Hill: "White House delays another Obamacare deadline."

Cthulhu All-Spark McLaughlin

This guy is running an Internet vote to name his daughter with predictable results.  I voted for the middle name "Waitfor-it."

Stories like this are just starting

The Daily Caller has a first person account of an Obamacare supporter who is experiencing real and metaphorical headaches: "An Obamacare supporter recounts his misadventures dealing with HealthCare.gov":
Three days into 2014, Miles took his Obamacare out for its maiden drive. His stop at the doctor went fine. At the pharmacy, it crashed.
His medication — which has cost us a co-pay of between $10 and $30 under every other plan he’s had since 2004 including one under Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan — would not be covered. At all.
That’s $438 out of pocket. Every month. And it won’t even go against the plan deductible.
In other words, this nifty $246 Obamacare plan would actually cost $686 a month.
The author spends a few heartbreaking days calling Obamacare and insurance company hotlines trying to find out why his partner's medication was not covered, to no avail.

Sorry, pal, but they lied and they're going to keep on lying.

Extra - Medicaid stats are just made up.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown

Hot Air: "Report: No federal criminal charges expected in IRS targeting of tea-party groups."  "The DOJ lawyer who’s heading the investigation is an Obama donor and the FBI, after seven months of supposedly investigating this, only recently contacted tea-party groups targeted by the IRS. But other than that, everything here seems legit."

Whatevs, man, whatevs.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The new normal

Investor's Business Daily: "How bad is Obama's jobs record? Let's count the ways."

Zero Hedge says to get used to it:
According to the just released Occupation Outlook Quarterly (OOQ) looking at the period from 2012 to 2022 released by the BLS, in the future the US will be in a significant need of jobs, which is good for all those worried that the economy is grinding to a halt, or those demoralized from not having a job for months on end and unsure if this will ever change.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that as in the case of today, the vast majority of future jobs will pay absolutely miserable salaries.
Temp jobs for everybody.  I was checking this Forbes list of the top startups in 2013 and they're nearly all tech startups to do fun things on your smartphone like Snapchat and Tinder.  In short, we're amusing ourselves to death - and unemployment - on Candy Crush.  Instead of big factories full of workers, we have a bunch of kids coding out of a Silicon Valley loft.

Extra - 92 million Americans are checking out.

Friday, January 10, 2014

I, for one, welcome our new tigerfish overlords



Nature: "This is the first confirmed record of a freshwater fish preying on birds in flight, the team reports in the Journal of Fish Biology."  I subscribe myself and can confirm this.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Go home, Harry - you're drunk

Here's Harold Meyerson in the WashPost, typing under-the-influence:
Despite the treasured right-wing talking points, it’s increasingly clear that Obamacare is a success. Moreover, in places where Obamacare is not succeeding, it’s also clear that the right wing is to blame.
Natch.  This is the classic Obama pronoun shift: when things are a success, it's "I" but when they're a failure it's "we" then later "you" by which he means "Republicans who didn't clap for Tinkerbell."
Charles Gaba, an enterprising Web site designer, has taken it upon himself to track the number of Americans who have gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Tallying those who have signed up on the state and federal exchanges (2.1 million), those who have obtained Medicaid coverage (4.4 million) and those who gained coverage through the law’s requirement that private plans allow parents to cover their children up to age 26 (3.1 million), he cites more than 9 million newly insured through Obamacare.
The "9 million newly insured" has become the new mantra for the Democrats as demonstrated in Nancy Pelosi's churlish "don't call it Obamacare" press conference.  It's complete nonsense.  The 2.1 million is based on estimates of Americans who have chosen a plan but may or may not have paid for it; it's the "Amazon shopping cart" estimate.  Also it doesn't account for the 4.7 million Americans who have lost the health insurance plans they liked but weren't allowed to keep.  Some states have reported that the payment rate so far is only around 50% so there's a million people who are not actually and factually insured.

The 4.4 Medicaid coverage number is even shakier.  It's counting for all gross enrollments in Medicaid whether or not Obamacare had any motivating impact:
Which brings us back to our number above: 1.9 million total enrollees approved in October or November in states that actually expanded Medicaid. If we are correct in our assumptions above—that is, if 10 percent of these enrollees are due to the Obamacare expansion—then we have an actual estimate for Medicaid enrollment due directly to the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid: 190,000.
That's a yawning chasm from 4 million but - as Rachel Maddow shows us - reality is what we choose it to be.

Finally, there's the "Pajama Boy" demographic of hot cocoa, warm government, and delayed maturity.

This brainfart of a "law" was worth the economic disruption and Constitutional crisis to extend coverage to a sliver of Americans who will probably never see a doctor anyway.

A rude awakening awaits

Can this possibly be true, after all this time?
It found that eight in 10 uninsured adults were unaware of the need to sign up for insurance by March to avoid a fine, under the so-called individual mandate.
Eighty percent!  But wait, there's more: for the uninsured giving a reason why they didn't buy a health plan, more cited the cost than "technical problems."  The #1 response was "weighing options" which I'm going to interpret as "hoping the cost will go down."  Maybe that's why nobody refers to it as the "Affordable Care Act."

I tried to warn you kids

The College Fix: "Under Obama, Youth Misery Index hits all-time high."  Mostly due (in this measure) to rising debt which will be paid off by future generations.  Throw into the mix rising health care costs due to the wealth transfer scheme of adjusted community rating.  And you might as well forget about Social Security.

Christie kinda sorta takes responsibility

A couple of  thoughts on Chris Christie's apology today.  First, I always think it's a cop-out when an executive says "hey, man, I didn't know what was goin' on."  It's not like you're writing a book or digging a ditch or something: your job is to govern and control the staff that helps advance your agenda.  You didn't know this was going on?  That doesn't evince control.

Let's assume you didn't know, big guy.  I get the feeling there was a little bit of "will no one rid me of this turbulent priest" going in in Trenton.  Christie throws a lot of sharp elbows - his staff followed his lead.

Finally, because leaders of large organizations cannot do everything, it's critical to use judgement to pick the best people.  These were not and it doesn't show executive-level acumen.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Is there no respite?

Politico: "Obamacare ads to hit the Olympic slopes."  That's right: HHS is spending taxpayer money on commercials to run during the Winter Olympics.
The agency declined to specify the size of the ad buy.
I'll bet.  What's worse is that Kathleen Sebelius is hoping some young invincibles crash horribly so everybody understands that it's important to get insurance:
No word on the images that might be used along with the usual messaging, although high-injury events such as the giant slalom or snowboarding offer immediate visuals to underscore the risk of going without health insurance.
It's come to this.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Viva la exodus

Newsweek: "The fall of France"
Since the arrival of Socialist President Fran├žois Hollande in 2012, income tax and social security contributions in France have skyrocketed. The top tax rate is 75 percent, and a great many pay in excess of 70 percent.
As a result, there has been a frantic bolt for the border by the very people who create economic growth - business leaders, innovators, creative thinkers, and top executives. They are all leaving France to develop their talents elsewhere.
For those that remain, things are turning desperate: "Angry French union workers take two bosses hostage" at a Goodyear plant.

In completely unrelated news, people are leaving California for some reason.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Bill de Blasio's favorite prop

In case you missed it, the incoming mayor of New York had 11-year-old Dasani Coates join him on stage during his inauguration, as a potent symbol of the institutionalized inequality that led to the girl's homelessness.

It's worth reading this piece by Kay Hymowitz in City Journal: "Did inequality make Dasani homeless?"  Or could it be - just spitballing here - her unemployable parents who spend their days zonked out on methadone?  Oh but there I go again with my bend towards parental responsibility and "the politics of blame."

In any case: your move, Mayor.  I fully expect after your many reforms take place that those "piles of unwashed clothes" will be clean and Downy-fresh.  I'll check back later.

(Hat tip: Maggie's Farm)

Vince Gilligan has one regret about "Breaking Bad"

Jesse didn't have "meth mouth."

Chip *hearts* Applebee's

Atlantic: "This guy has a months-long Facebook Conversation With an Applebee's."  Geez, get a room, you two.

Great ideas, comrade!

I can't believe I used to subscribe to this magazine back when, you know, it wrote about music.  Some dummy at Rolling Stone has posted "5 economic reforms millennials should be fighting for" which reads like Karl Marx as written by Groucho Marx.  Twitchy has already taken aim but for real comedy, read the comments under the article.  Even the millennials aren't buying it.

I'm just going to leave this right here for Jesse.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Straight to the ER

Peter Suderman writes: "No, Obamacare won't reduce emergency room usage".  In fact, expanding Medicaid is going to make the most expensive form of primary care more of a burden to hospitals.
But the best evidence has never really supported the hope that the law would reduce emergency room usage. That’s because much of the law’s expanded coverage comes via Medicaid, the jointly run federal-state program for the low income and disabled. And Medicaid beneficiaries tend to visit the emergency room more often than the uninsured.
A new study of Medicaid beneficiaries in Oregon makes a strong version of this case. The study, published today in the journal Science, finds that adult Medicaid beneficiaries rely on emergency rooms about 40 percent more than similar uninsured adults.
Gosh, if only there was an independent press pointing out similar results in Massachusetts under Romneycare before plunging headlong into this mess.

Extra - From Ace: "Is there a single claim about this program that wasn't a "wrong promise"?"

More - Samefacts: "This talking point was never properly evidence-based or even particularly plausible given prior research."  We'll throw that in with "if you like your health plan you can keep it" pile.

Addendum - Or maybe ER visits went down in Massachusetts.

Meh - wasn't so bad

Everybody's home from work/school today: "Massive winter storm wallops Northeast, dumps 22 inches of snow in Massachusetts."  That's the count out near Boston.  Here in Western Massachusetts it's looks like maybe eight inches of fluffy (easy to shovel) snow.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Gee my living room is warm and there are snacks here

Finally, there's a backlash against outrageous NFL prices: "NFL should be alarmed that three of four playoff games, including Green Bay's home game, still not sold out."
A quick glance at Ticketmaster on Wednesday afternoon showed the face-value prices for the Packers playoff game ranged from $313 and $102, not counting Ticketmaster fees. If you've attended a NFL game, you know that the cost doesn't end with tickets. Parking is outrageously and insultingly high at most NFL games. Concessions aren't cheap either. NFL teams have gouged and gouged and gouged, and maybe there's a breaking point.
I haven't been to a game in years but my sister still goes to Jets games at Metlife Stadium and she told me that parking requires some kind of permit that runs into the hundreds of dollars - extra if you want to show up early and tailgate.  Beers inside the stadium are $12.  Twelve dollars!

NASCAR allows spectators to bring in their own drinks but that still hasn't stemmed the tide, which is obvious from all the empty seats in the stands during races.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Boston Strong

Here in Western Massachusetts, the story of the year - by far - is the Boston Marathon bombing.  This was weird for me because the only vacation I took last year coincided with the Massachusetts school vacation so we would sightsee during the day then watch the news at night.  Here's hoping that 2014 will bring solace to everybody.

We've always been at war with Eastasia

Big Government: "White House: Seven million Obamacare enrollments 'was never our target.'"  And, of course, "enrollments" is whatever phony-baloney definition they decide: "However, even the administration's two million figure is inflated; half of the people who have applied for Obamacare in 17 states have yet to activate their plans by making their first payment, reports the Wall Street Journal."