• comment on a post Toss-Up in MA over 4 years ago

    This is a three-way race, the third candidate being a libertarian (Liberty Party) (That's what state law said he was eligible to run as).

    The polling question gave voters two choices.  It qualifies as a push poll, telling those people who were polled a false list their choices.

    The poll should raise concern -- the candidates who were polled could have hoped fora  blowout -- but as a poll in a close race it is not worth the photons coming off your monitor.

    Perhaps someone could persuade Nate Silver/FiveTHirtyEight.com to start agiating for minimum competence standards for legitimate polling, e.g., 'when it is known who is on the ballot, the lead polling name list should match the ballot'

  • comment on a post MA-Senate Race - GOP Candidate Invokes JFK in Ad over 4 years ago

    In addition there will be the people who glance at the ad, take away 'Kennedy -- tax cuts', see Kennedy on the ballot, and vote for him rather than the Republican.

  • comment on a post NY-23 poll-- Hoffman leads, one week out over 4 years ago

    It appears that one of the top three will win.

    I hope you will forgive me this daring prediction.

    Having said that there is an interesting consequence of a Hoffman victory.  Conservatives and Republicans are not simply the same people. Not all the same people, not everywhere.  In places where the Republican establishment has frozen out various sorts of conservatives, the Palinists, the Ron Paul Folks, the tea baggers, etc. a Hoffman victory may embolden the conservatives to march out of the Republican party and try to win as Conservative Party candidates, even in states where a Conservative Party must first be formed.  The consequences for Republican vote totals appear unlikely to be positive.

  • comment on a post Undoing Reagan over 4 years ago

    "I was shocked and dismayed to learn that 74 percent at the nation's top 146 colleges and universities now come from families in the top quintile of income. And just three percent come from the bottom quintile."

    However, many top-line private universities have needs-blind admission. We admit -- yes, I am a professor -- and then give financial aid as needed, up to at some schools, full freight, tuition, room, board, books, travel. I suspect that does not even matters out completely.

    I am inclined to agree that there is an issue here, but I don't believe it has much to do with Ronald Reagan.  You might look harder at the academic standards that schools supply and parents are willing to support, but I am not sure the challenge is there, either.

    The size of the administrative burden, the number of Vice Presidents, Vice Chancellors, Associate Assistant Deans, university services,...seems to grow with time.

  • In the Great and General Court of the Commonwealth, there are 5 Republican State Senators (of 40) and 16 Republican State Senators (of 160)

    The Republicans are not blocking anything very much.

  • There is a bill on the MA legislative pages with an emergency preamble attached.  It appears that this was not the bill that was ratified.  I gather, but may be wrong that the votes were not given to pass a bill with a preamble, which I gather takes 2/3.  Yesterday, the vote was not 2/3 in both houses.

    The Governor can also issue an emergency letter, which could in principle be challenged in court.  I gather that historically Governors do this rarely.

    The Bill may or may not be subject to a canceling referendum; there is an issue here whose answer I do not know.

    For more on this see not only BlueMassGroup.com but its antithesis RedMassGroup.Com, which in addition to a certain amount of whining "The Democrats are outvoting us" actually has some coherent discussion on the topic of emergency preambles.

  • comment on a post TSA - Air Travel: An Idiocracy in Action over 5 years ago

    Seat belts are an extremely effective safety precaution in airplanes.  They reduce the likelihood that in severe turbulence people will turn into projectiles and injure the people around them.

    The critique of the liquids rule, which was based on an alleged British plot that appears unlikely to have worked in practice because basic chemistry does not function that way is one thing.  The rant on seatbelts is a good example of the aggressive ignorance theme.

  • comment on a post A Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Moment over 5 years ago

    Some of these men likely recall that when general Westmoreland went to LBJ and asked for another quarter million troops, on top of the half million he had, there was a change of intentions.

  • comment on a post A Breach of Duty over 5 years ago

    It is not that many decades ago, about 12 if I recall, that South Carolina had a devastating earthquake.  Earthquakes do not give advance warning.  Being unavailable for this rare but devastating threat is unacceptable.

    On the other hand, it is possible that someplace on the Governor's staff, keeping lips zipped, is the person who did have the contact information for the event of a real emergency.  It is not that many years since there was the chief of state of a NATO country who would occasionally disappear for a night; someone on his security arrangements knew there was an envelope on his pillow with a telephone number.

  • comment on a post Gallup: 40% of Americans are Conservatives over 5 years ago

    Look carefully at what Gallup says their question reads, and how it divides people into three categories.

    Very conservative, conservative


    moderate, liberal


    very liberal

    If Gallup actually asks the question they say they ask, it is no wonder they say liberals are outnumbered.

  • comment on a post Mandate over 5 years ago
    There are however several alternatives for driving down insurance costs:
    #1) Ban cost transfers. You are a hospital.  If someone appears on your doorstep uninsured you are under no legal obligation to do anything, and by the way if you do you cannot charge the cost to insured people.  If your state legislature wants to give the uninsured coverage, then they should pay for it, or run county hospitals for the uninsured only.
    #2) Interstate competition: There are wild variations form state to state in price, for substantially equivalent coverage.
    #3) Treat all medical care costs the same on your taxes: If employer insurance is not taxable income, than personally-purchased insurance and legitimate out-of-pocket costs should also not be part of taxable income.
  • comment on a post Mandate over 5 years ago

    Mandates for auto insurance are an example of the point I am making.  The reason I have uninsured driver coverage organic to my policy is that if I am in an accident there is a significant likelihood that the other vehicle is driven by an uninsured driver.  We have the law; we do not actually have a way to enforce it that works.  You can arrest uninsured motorists, but unless you do something terminal to them like life in prison they are entirely able to repeat their activities.

    Now, you could propose "You appear at a hospital.  You have no insurance.  You ... if you are a minor, your parents ... are now looking at an automatic five years in the Big House."  That approach will reduce medical costs, namely people will decline to show up at hospitals if they can help it, but it kind of misses the point.

    A substantial fraction of the uninsured people in the country are uninsured for reasons other than money, in the usual sense.  There was a Harvard study reported in the Times on this: illegal aliens, about a quarter of the total.  people covered by Medicaid because they are on welfare, but who have not registered because they are not sick, about half the total.  People changing jobs, or who just quit work and did not take COBRA...a tenth.  People who declined coverage their employer offered...another tenth.  And, down there, were people who fell through all the cracks..four million or so.  Mind you, I expect these numbers are not very accurate.

    "We arrest uninsured drivers"...unless you then lock them up for life or something even more permanent, you have not stopped them from driving without insurance, you have simply interrupted their activities momentarily.

  • comment on a post Mandate over 5 years ago

    This issue came up in Massachusetts, which has a variation of this law.

    And with respect to the people who do not believe in Western medicine, or who choose to take the risk, or whatever:

    What are you proposing to do to them?

    Throw them in prison, where, as a strong ACLU supporter, I can pretty much guarantee that we will if need be litigate to guarantee their access to medical care?

    Alternatively, you could do civil process and go after these people's assets.

    It's nice to say that you will pass a law, but at some point you need to consider enforcement penalties and how those penalties will make you look.

    Of course, at some point the Republican right will work out that this process guarantees that every person in the US other than tourists has had to file a date and place of birth where it can be used to enforce immigration laws.  Then you will get lots of supporting votes you did not expect.

  • The pre-recession levels of borrowing -- borrowing in many cases more than income -- were unsustainable.  They have ceased to be sustained, and one way or other will unravel.  Hoping that people will go back to spending more than they earned is even less promising that the market for really large SUVs will explode.  The latter is at least possible, though highly unlikely in the near term.

    Note that while some people have massive consumer debt, other people pay off their credit cards every month and have none, other than the mortgage used to buy a house.  The latter people, except as incomes fluctuate down or up, will continue their traditional thrifty American habits.

  • comment on a post Pyongyang Says Hello over 5 years ago

    6 miles underground?  That is one non-trivial hole to dig.  The State Department is sensibly biting its tongue until there is a careful check to see if there is a six mile hole digger that has been someplace in the vicinity, if the depth is not quite right, and/or if the "test" was not in the immediate vicinity of an earthquake fault line that gave us a natural event which can usually -- after some work -- be distinguished from an earthquake.


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