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Obama-facepalmOne of the things that mainstream media tends to overlook in the current debate over the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) is that it employs the very market solutions that business-centric Republicans love to tout as the panacea for all that ails, but either don’t really seem to understand, or only apply topically when needed — like zinc ointment for a skin rash.
 
One reason the media keep missing it is because the White House Office of Communications (WHOC) repeatedly fails to point it out.
 
We need to remember that Obamacare is not socialized medicine, or anything remotely like it, no matter what those reality-challenged moonblind sub-normals in sloth cloth say on the buzzbox.
 
The foundation of Obamacare is state-based insurance exchanges. The idea is not to socialize medicine, but to socialize risk across a broader population base and thereby to reduce costs for everybody. In fact, that’s all insurance companies of any stripe do — socialize risk by spreading loss across a large subscriber base. The ACA state-based insurance exchanges just make it more efficient.
 
Here’s where market principles apply: as health insurance companies compete for customers within a huge pool of potential customers, over time there will be winners and losers, as there are in any competitive marketplace. Those who survive and prosper will be those who figure out ways to: 1) Provide better services at lower cost; 2) Create more efficiencies in providing those services; 3) Find innovative ways to create those efficiencies; 4) Increase productivity while decreasing overhead.
 
What’s for a free market capitalist and Austrian School Tool not to like? Maybe the regulations?
 
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How Much Can Money Change Perception?

by Grace Kelly on September 24, 2013 · 0 comments

trust me bankerHow far will people actually go to manipulate the odds view of one candidate in the presidential race? Actually quite far.

 

A new academic paper digging into presidential betting in the final weeks of the 2012 election finds that a single trader lost between $4 million and $7 million placing a flurry of Intrade bets on Mitt Romney—perhaps to make the Republican nominee’s chance of victory appear brighter.

 

Why?

 

A number of stories and blog posts in the final weeks of the election noted that Mr. Romney continued to fare well on the Intrade market, even as he was lagging in public opinion polls. Intrade, based in Ireland, stopped trading activity in March.

“It is worth knowing that a highly visible market that drove many a media narrative could be manipulated at a cost less than that of a primetime television commercial,” the authors write.

 

What is this compared to buying the media companies!

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From CNN’s Reliable Sources

by JeffStrate on April 23, 2013 · 2 comments

I profoundly appreciate the clarity and resonance of Joe Bodell’s “Thoughts Elsewhere” posting.   I have come to detest the wall-to-wall TV coverage afforded tragedies of the kind that happened a week ago in Boston. I am saddened by the conjecture, the lack of source checking, the lack of restrain.  We are a nation of voyeurs watching real life “reality shows” narrated by assumption and driven by the stupid desire to be first.

But back to TV coverage, not in the faked “reality shows” but as it has played out from Boston, West, Newtown and some time ago in Atlanta.   During the live coverage of the failed assassination attempt on President Reagan, ABC anchor Frank Reynolds became angry with his unseen producers, sternly ordering them  to nail down the facts — too often anchors and news producers and reporters do not nail down the facts but go ahead with stupid lines like — “We can’t confirm this detail but we learned just moments ago from a “Tweet” sent out by a guy we don’t know who just talked with a Boston cop three blocks from the finish line about what he thinks just happened on Boyleston.  We stress to viewers, that we can’t yet verify what the officer said but is what we can tell you now.   Our story may change as we learn more …”

CNN, with some laudable exceptions, grows increasingly careless and trivial on breaking news situations what it is praised for being the best at.  One of its better programs “Reliable Sources” discussed media coverage of  Boston this past Sunday.  Howard Kurtz,  the Daily Beast’s Washington’s Bureau Chief is not beholden to CNN.

Here’s the link to an hour perspective that is worth listening to -

http://reliablesources.blogs.cnn.com/

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Why do the vile thrive?

by Dan Burns on March 31, 2013 · 8 comments

warThat is, of course, a huge question, that has puzzled thinkers throughout human history. I’m noting it here in the context of the tenth anniversary, roughly, of the beginning of the Iraq War.
 

As I reflect on the 10 years of the Iraq War, what is most striking with respect to the war’s enormous human toll — nearly one million dead, five million displaced, hundreds of thousands of widows and orphans, untold misery — is the sheer callousness of the pro-war clique when confronted with these facts. As I argued in my book about this topic, The Deaths of Others, nothing stings the national security establishment like the charge of wanton killing. Even failure in war is more acceptable than culpability for large numbers of civilian casualties. And that, perhaps as much as any reason, is why the policy and media elites avoid the topic almost completely…
 

Even as the retrospectives on the war spotlight the “we made mistakes” mantra, American elites still avoid the actual human toll in Iraq. They will not discuss it, they will not grapple with the current consequences, like the three million Iraqis who are still displaced from their homes, and they certainly will not consider U.S. culpability. If we don’t come to terms with this catastrophe, we learn nothing. It’s not just about the lying by Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, or the see-no-evil media lemmings. It is a moral failing of much greater magnitude — knowing that this carnage was occurring and not acting on it, not admitting to it, trying to burying it under more mendacity.
 

(AlterNet)

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The Star Tribune’s Minnesota Poll has come out with a poll on marriage equality today that in order to be right, well, let’s say every other poll, and the last election results, need to be wrong. They claim 38% support legalizing same-sex marriage, 53% oppose, and 9% don’t know. This is despite a majority rejecting the marriage ban amendment in the last election, and other polls consistently showing support rising with pluralities or majorities ready to make the law the same for everyone.

 

The same poll found 70% support background checks on gun purchases even though national polls show support around 90%, and a small majority supports upper income tax increases despite other polls showing much higher support.

 

The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon, they same pollster the Star Tribune used for their pre-election polls. That’s the same outfit that said at the end of October that Romney trailed Obama by just three, while other polls had him behind by high single digits. Obama won Minnesota by 8. Mason-Dixon’s record for the rest of the country was, well, similar.

 

Is this poll denialism from the left, like conservatives engaged in before the presidential election? One small difference. Before the election, conservatives refused to believe the bad news from the consensus of polls, relying instead on “unskewing” or their guts or Romney’s internal pollster with its outlying result.  We, however, are refusing to believe the outlier, and accepting the consensus of polls. That’s easier, granted, when you like the results, but still, one side wants to believe the outlier and one accepts the consensus. So no, not the same.

 

Let me put it this way: there are several possibilities. Maybe there has been some significant shift on all three issues in a very short time. Granted that’s true with gun issues, since the Sandy Hook massacre has indeed caused a sudden shift, but that’s been in favor of sane gun regulations.

 

Or maybe Minnesota is significantly more conservative than the national average. If so, then this run of election wins by Democrats running on liberal platforms in a high turnout state gets hard to explain.  OK, I phrased it that way just so the voter fraud believers get a chance to scream at the their computers.

 

Or maybe Mason-Dixon has a distinct rightward house effect. Given their record, that seems pretty likely.

 

Someone I mentioned today’s poll to called it bad journalism. It’s not bad journalism, just bad polling, though there is one criticism to be made. The articles didn’t say the poll results contradicted other polls. They had a public figure mention this, Speaker Paul Thissen in the case of the marriage poll, but they didn’t say that the public figure was factually correct. This is that false objectivity that comes from treating each side as if it’s equally likely to be right. Reporting on your poll’s results is just fine, but whether it comes in with similar results as other polls is just a fact, and a relevant one. Especially given their pollster’s record, the Star Tribune needs to say this.

 

Just like is suggested by that study posted yesterday about how elected officials assume voters are more conservative than they actually are, elected officials who accept these results are in danger of putting themselves to the right of their constituents. That’s fine for Republicans worried about winning the party nomination from a base that skews far right, but that’s a bad risk for Democrats. They risk not just voting out of step with their constituents, but also demotivating their voters and alienating the people who show up at their phonebanks.

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Update: A poll from about a month ago, by highly regarded SurveyUSA, showed Minnesotans’ support for taxing the rich at a higher rate at 65 percent.

 

The Minneapolis Star Tribune came out with a pretty suspicious poll number, on Sunday.

 

Fully 54 percent of Minnesotans favor higher taxes on net incomes above $150,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples.

 

Year after year, in poll after poll, support for higher taxes on the wealthy is almost always up into the 60s, at least. And a good rule of thumb is that when there’s no reason to see a big change in poll numbers, polling that shows a substantial change, anyway, is probably wrong.

 

So, what could be going on? It took a moment to occur to me, because it’s like…the Strib isn’t…still using Mason-Dixon, right?

 

Well, yes, it is. Bad idea.

 

Now, for the bottom five:

 

3. Mason Dixon: 173 points
75 points on picking winners (Overall record: 15-6-1)
43 points on “error” score (Average error: 5.7 percent)
55 points on “partisan error” score (Average error: Republicans +4.5)

 

I’m not saying that just because the tax-the-rich number is clearly out of line, and that the reason for that may well be the Strib’s use of a right-skewed pollster, that the entire poll should be automatically dismissed. It’s quite reasonable to see public opposition to the sales tax overhaul, for now; people are always leery of big change, at first. Public opinion regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act started out negative, but has improved now to solid majority support as people experience the benefits.

 

I’m also not suggesting that M-D deliberately cooked its numbers, to try to provide backing for the lower-taxes-for-the-rich-are-the-key-to-prosperity-for-all idiot brigade. (Yes, there still are a lot of them out there, despite all of the evidence of the past 30+ years. They’re long past the point of being worth even a moment of any thinking person’s attention.) The pollster’s problem is likely methodological. Whether the folks at the Strib should have recognized that, you can decide for yourself.

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Dear AP: Climate change is not a social issue

by Eric Ferguson on February 13, 2013 · 0 comments

EarthMPR reprinted an AP article on last night’s State of the Union speech. The writer, Nedra Pickler, included this weird sentence (bolding mine), “And he continued to push in support of left-leaning social issues including gun control, immigration reform, climate change and advancing equal rights for gays.”

I won’t speculate on whether the writer innocently meant to lump together what she saw as non-economic issues, or really thinks climate change is just some lefty special interest thing. I would like to point out to her that social issues are about people, and climate change is about nature, which I would think any cub reporter could tell apart. Social issues are normally about expanding or restricting rights. Climate change is about whether the drought becomes the new normal inland while the coasts get flooded.

Equality and public safety are obviously important too, but a significant danger to the entire planet just got lumped in with other issues, suggesting the writer dismissed their individual importance. She could have just said the president included non-economic issues if a characterization was needed.

One thing the writer missed entirely was voting rights. The president introduced a 102-year-old woman who waited several hours in line to vote, like hundreds of thousands of her fellow Floridians. That makes voting rights more than just a throw-away line, as does his mention of a specific bill. That would seem to indicate the president thinks this is an issue up there with the others important enough to warrant their own section of the speech.

One tangent, how could the Republicans sit and refuse to applaud this woman’s determination to vote? Oh right, elderly black ladies voting in swing states is bad. Since the long waits aren’t enough, that proves we need a strict photo ID law.

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TPT Takes On The Gun Nuts, On Your Radio!

by TwoPuttTommy on February 12, 2013 · 0 comments

(photo courtesy of Jack Tomczak, via Twitter)  Last Friday night (08 Feb 2013), yours truly, the ol’ TwoPutter, was invited by Jack Tomczak & Ben Kruse to be on Late Debate to discuss guns with Andrew Rothman, who is with Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance.  So I tossed on a shirt that’s guaranteed to raise the hackles and feed the paranoia of RightWingNutJobs everywhere (about that Tee Shirt, here), and headed to the studio!

I’d like to start this out by saying Jack & Ben are gracious hosts; they’ll ask the lefty that goes on the show some tough questions, but they’re always fair (well, to me and those lefty’s that I’ve heard ‘em interview).  So I’ll give ‘em a shout-out; they’re doing everyone a service by putting opposing views on air, on their show.  Plus, Jack and Ben can be really funny! If you have to listen to RightWingRadio, theirs is a show to listen to.

And I’d also like to say that as a person, I like Andrew Rothman – he’s a very articulate person that believes passionately in what he does.  Some of which I happen to agree with; some of what I vehemently disagree with. But hey – this is America; disagreement is our tradition going way back to the days of The Founding Fathers.  The point here is Andrew is someone reasonable people can (and should) like even while disagreeing with his positions.

Prior to that night’s radio gig, I’d never met Andrew.  But, I’d heard him!  On January 19th, GunNuts “rallied” at the Capitol in St. Paul; pictures and my comments in a Facebook Album titled “Guns Across America, St. Paul’s Circus Act”.  Here’s what I said, back then, in a tweet:  ”Opening speaker at #GunNuts Rally: “No new #Gun Laws in #MN; gun laws don’t work”  Yep – “right” out of the gate, and then repeated by speaker after speaker (including Tony Cornish, R=NRA) were “no new laws – PERIOD.”

So that’s the backdrop; yours truly, the ol’ TwoPutter, was headed to the studio — link to podcast and partial transcript below the fold!
You can link to the podcast here and listen along; the following transcript has to deal with finding common ground – that the idea anyone can go to a gun store, or under a tent at a gun show, and buy a machine gun is a really, Really, REALLY bad idea.  Or, so I thought; starting at 7:05 into the show:

TPT: “We should actually start off, you know, and see if we can find any common ground.  Now, you know, back in the 1930′s we had Al Capne and the bootleggers, yada yada yada.  And in their infinite wisdom, (cross talk) let me finish, don’t start talking over me already; I know your style!  We outlawed Tommy Guns.  My question is:  are you ok with that? Should sub-machine guns be illegal?

Rothman:  No.

TPT: Alright, now we have it, folks!  Now we’re getting ready to go!

Rothman:  Let’s go back a little further.  First we had Prohibition and it turns out that if we just prohibit something there won’t be any of it.  We know this about the war on alcohol; we know this about the war on drugs.  But we ended up with this huge bureaucracy of the, the uh, the Revenuers.  And these folks did their very very best to win the war on alcohol.  Failed miserably and creaed a huge market for crime in the process.  When Prohibition was repealed, there was this whole federal bureaucracy with nothing to do.  1934 – the Gun Control Act (sic).  So they had to do something about all those machine guns and all that crime which was caused by:  Prohibition.

TPT:  I just want to make sure all the listeners are very clear that Andrew, you just said that there should not be a prohibition on fully automatic AK-47′s, M-16′s, Thompson sub-machine guns, Uzi’s, yada yada yada.  Is that really your position?

Andrew: That’s my position.

Ladies and Gents, you simply cannot make that up.

While reasonable people are trying to find reasonable solutions to curb gun violence, including banning Loop-Hole Legal Machine Guns, a leader of those opposing any – ANY – new gun law is very clear:  fully automatic weapons should be readily available.

Listen to the podcast here; not only is it great radio, but you’ll gain insight into the thoughts of those that oppose any and all regulations on The 2nd Amendment,  which reads:

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

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I did the transcription, as best I could.  Any error is inadvertent and will be corrected upon review; please suggest any such correction in the comments, below
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The DFL looks to be making a serious push to raise the minimum wage.

Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley chairs the Select Committee on Living Wage Jobs, which had their first meeting on Monday.

I really hope they can get this accomplished as I believe this will help our economy.

Does anyone know when the hearings are that Ryan Winkler will be having?

Thanks,
Adam T, Saint Louis Park Class of 2004

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Michele Bachmann: rehabilitating her ‘image’

by Bill Prendergast on January 25, 2013 · 0 comments

Our old friend Conventional Wisdom says Michele Bachmann’s “done” as a relevant national political figure. There are good reasons to believe that: last fall, (running as an incumbent in the most conservative district in Minnesota and despite a humongous funding advantage) she barely survived a challenge from a local political unknown.

During the national debate over the budget and “fiscal cliff” at the end of last year, the normally outspoken Bachmann remained silent. That silence also suggested she was “over.” Bachmann had always been relentlessly outspoken on taxation and spending issues, broadcasting hardline “tea party” positions on them in high profile forums. (She was doing so even before the tea party movement came into existence.) But she refused to show up on media radar during the definitive battle between the White House and the Republican Congress on those very issues.

Steering clear of a critical policy battlefield at a time when American conservatives needed heroes to make a stand for small government: more evidence that Bachmann was “over” as an influential national political voice. (It’s also evidence of political cowardice, but that’s by-the-by.)

So: given all of the above–is she really “done” as a national leader? If you asked most people on the left, I suspect their answer would be “Yes, absolutely, and thank God–it’s high time.” If you ask media professionals who cover politics, I suspect their answer would be: “Right now, her name is dog dirt so far as credibility is concerned. That’s practically impossible to come back from, given her lack of practical policy successes. So, yeah: she’s done as a national political figure.”

But this week we’re seeing an attempt by voices on the right to rehabilitate Bachmann’s credibility as a leader. Over at the Powerline blog, John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson just ran a couple of pieces alleging that Bachmann is an admirable leader–an American political hero who’s been crucified with a media smear campaign designed to destroy her credibility.

According to them, Michele Bachmann is  

You don’t have to “go way back” in this conservative political hero’s history to find her promoting nuthouse conspiracy theories. Just last year she claimed (publicly) that the President of the United States is party to a scheme to impose Sharia law on the United States.
LINKS:

John Hinderaker, “Reconsidering Michele Bachmann.”
http://www.powerlineblog.com/a…

Scott Johnson, “The Campaign to Destroy Rep. Bachmann.”
http://www.powerlineblog.com/a…

Caroline Glick, “The Left’s new campaign to destroy a friend of Israel’s”
http://www.carolineglick.com/e…

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