Thursday, October 31, 2013

What's Happened to Halloween?

Boo! Yeah, I said "Boo!" Whaddya gonna do about it? Really, what ARE you going to do about it? Halloween used to be the greatest holiday ever! Now it's just a dreaded day filled with political correctness and warnings of the evils of unhealthy snack foods.

Halloween was the holiday that every kid dreamed about. All you had to do was to drape yourself in an old sheet (well, not so much in the South) or put a patch over your eye and the candy, FREE CANDY! would come pouring into that big plastic pumpkin bucket you clutched for blocks careful not to spill one morsel. All sorts of wonderful, sugary candies like SweetTarts or chocolatey minibites of Snickers or Krackles! The gooey-er and sugarier the better. All free for the knocking and taking. And all you had to do was shout "Trick or Treat"!

And your parents would let you do it! They would actually LET you go begging through the streets to score all the candy you could carry. You could go running through the neighborhood in gangs and groups and gaggles where, let me tell you, that kid-network worked faster than any internet does, to share the 4-1-1 on which house had the best (or worst) candy. It was glorious! Then when you finally dragged your loot home, there was one last hurdle before the fun really started. You know the procedure - dump all that wonderful sugary, chocolatey treasure on the table while Mom and Dad took out all to poisonous popcorn balls and the apples laced with razorblades. [I never personally saw an apple with razorblades, but my parents assured us that they existed] Then and ONLY then could you finally gorge yourself into a beautiful sugar-induced coma.

So what happened? It used to be so much fun. But lately, you can't swing a dead, black cat without getting ragged on by some prissy do-gooder.

First there's the administrators at University of Colorado Boulder and several other college campuses like Universtiy of Minnesota. LINK The "University Spokesperson" actually explained why dressing like cowboys would be offensive...
'When you dress up as a cowboy, and you have your sheriff badge on and a big cowboy hat, that's not a representation of a cowboy, that's not a representation of people who work on a ranch that's not a representation of people who live in the West, that's kind of a crude stereotype,' Hilliard said.
Really? I wasn't aware that the CowPokes Of America were offended. They always seemed so self-assured and reasonable. I feel so bad now. I dressed like cowgirl with pink boots, fringed skirt and all once, and now I know that I was offending them. I am contrite. [I guess the Watergate Bug costume I wore in 1974 was okay 'cause that only insulted Nixon. Phew]

Then this is what one woman in North Dakota felt compelled to write to drop into all those little plastic pumpkin buckets in lieu of candy...LINK

You [sic] child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season. My hope is that you will step up as a parent and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits.

She is exactly why flaming paper bags filled with dog poop were invented.

But then there is the Mom whose child suffers from Type 1 diabetes. She wanted him to be able to participate, so she bought a bunch of small toys and distributed them to her neighbors with a note attached that explained that her child could not eat candy, but when he knocks on the door, please give him this toy instead. And went on to explained how they could identify him. Now THAT'S a really cool Mom.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Toon-arama: Frankenweenie (2012)

by tryanmax

In 1984 while working for Disney, Tim Burton created a half-hour, black & white, live-action film about a boy’s love for his dog as perhaps only he could imagine it. In a tale closely following the 1931 Universal Frankenstein, young Victor’s dog Sparky gets hit by a car, so he takes inspiration from his science class to bring the beloved pet back to life. Burton was fired from Disney for his efforts.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Washington, D.C. Trick or Treat Guide

Halloween is upon us, and that means trick or treating. That means it’s time for our annual Washington, D.C. trick or treat guide! Here’s what you need to know to score big!

The Obamas: Avoid. Obama will come dressed in a bathrobe with a presidential seal and holding a golf club. Mrs. O will come dressed like Oprah. They will shower you in candy... but the wrappers are empty.

Joe Biden: WARNING DANGER! Avoid. Joe likes to dress like Hillary Clinton. But for Halloween, he’ll be dressed as the most interesting man in the administration. No one knows what kind of candy Joe hands out because he shoots through the door at trespassers, so don't risk it.

John Boehner: Sure. Boehner will be dressed as a eunuch and he pays out like a drunken cattleman at a hooker convention. If he doesn’t give you enough, just threaten him and he’ll give more. Careful though, he cries and you will get wet.

Ted Cruz: Depends. Ted dresses as an anti-establishment outsider and he’s never seen without his mini-me Mike Lee at his side. If you can pass his purity test, he hands out “authentic” tacos from Taco Bell with little Canadian flags on them. If you want to pass his test, the answer is always “No!”

Kathleen Sebelius: Avoid. She’ll come to the door dressed as a professional, but she won’t be able to figure out how to get the door open, so don’t bother.

Harry Reid: Maybe. You’ll find Harry at the Ritz, dressed like Hitler and surrounded by union thugs and prostitutes. He hands out LOTS of candy, but only to his friends.

The Pentagon: Absolutely. That place is awash in candy and has so many doors that they won’t know if you’ve already come. This place is a bonanza so bring extra sacks! (Important: Muslim costumes are a bad idea.)

John McCain: Avoid. He’ll be dressed in a Republican costume, complete with elephant mask... or as Yosemite Sam. He’ll waste an hour of your time telling you about the big treats he’s going to give you, but he only gives candy to people you don't like. Expect a stick of unflavored gum.

Eric Holder: Depends. Eric doesn’t hand out candy to whites.

Al Gore: Forget it. You’ll never make it past the huge electric fence and the stadium lights will blind you. And if you somehow make it to the door, the heat emanating from that huge, cavernous mansion which is heated by the rendered fat from polar bears, it will melt your costume. Plus, he only hands out indulgences and even then he wants you to pay for them.

The Supreme Court: Avoid. These clowns will be dressed as the Oracle from Ancient Greece and they never give you what you want.

Congress: Avoid. They only give out treats to people with a K-Street or Wall-Street address and most of them are nuts. Expect to see a lot of zombies... some in costume.

NSA: Avoid. They take, they don’t give. They do play a mean game of knock-knock though.

The Fed: Avoid. They only hand out laxatives to help with gastronomic easing.

Clinton, Bill: Depends. Clinton will come dressed as himself or as Carlos Danger. If you are female (or dressed like one) expect to be groped. He hands out cigars, but you might not like where he puts them.

Clinton, Hillary: Avoid. Hillary will come to the door dressed as Marvin the depressed Robot. Uh, yeah, that’s about it.

Freedom Works: Avoid. These Fortune 500 presidents, hedge fund managers and lobbyists will come to the door dressed in tricorn hats. They pass out American Pie (hencho en Mexico) in exchange for favors to be named later.

Glenn Beck: Avoid. Glenn dresses as God in a blue suit. He will give you communion if you kiss his ring. Ask for a tour of his bunker. Oh, and if you want to have some fun, get some friends and come dressed as a gay, Mexican Mariachi band who have come to the US to spread the word about Common Core.

Eric Weiner: Uh... no. He will come to the door dressed as the Mayor of New York and he will touch you... inappropriately... a lot. He hands out copies of Sydney Leathers’ porno tape.

There you have it, a guide on where to go trick or treating in Washington D.C. and how to maximize the take! Good luck and good hunting. Have a happy Halloween.
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Activists Hurt Their Causes

There’s a study I want to point out, but before we get there, I want to help you understand the point we are about to make viscerally. So let me start with a couple questions.

If I told you that the divorce system, indeed all of family law, is biased against fathers and needs reform, would you be interested in hearing what I have to say? If I then outlined this bias and I point out to you instances where this has caused the courts to award children to unfit or abusive mothers over the objections of excellent fathers, would you consider my suggestions for changing the law to correct those problems? Probably, right?

Now let me change this scenario somewhat. Assume again that I want to tell you about problems I see with the state of family law and the reforms I think are needed. But this time, let me tell you why I care. Well, I was CHEATED by that very system!! See, my evil ex-wife and her rotten lawyer cheated me. They used dirty tricks put into the law by man-hating feminists who hate men and want to use the law to grab political power for womyn! It's an outrage! I’ve actually formed a group called “F**kWOMYN” to advance my goals, and you should join. In fact, I can't see a reason why you wouldn't join. You're not one of THEM are you?! And while I’m at it, I should point out that rape is a made-up crime, that it’s a biological fact that women are liars, and that my ex-wife is a lazy whore.

Still want to listen? Hell no, right?

Before I continue, let me point out that none of this is true: never been married, never been through a divorce or adoption, don't even practice that kind of law - it's brutal. There is some anti-male bias in the law, but I don't care. So why did I mention any of this? I wanted to show you how quickly I can lose you on an emotional level with my own conduct. In the first paragraph, I come across as rational, informed and dispassionate. That approach puts you at ease and makes you more than willing to listen to what I am concerned about. But in the second paragraph, I send up red flags all over the place that give you the screaming willies. For one thing, it’s clear that I am biased. That wipes out the trust factor and now everything I say goes through your bias filter. For another, I demonstrate a lack of judgment. For example, the name of my organization calls into question my ability to function in human society. And then there’s the real killer: it’s clear that I’m obsessed, and that will send people running because it scares us.

Why does obsession scare us? Obsession is seen as dangerous because it causes people to act irrationally. It makes them blind to reality, immune to fact or logic, and it strips them of their judgment both in terms of what is important but also in terms of what is appropriate. Obsessed people lie, cheat, stalk girlfriends and shoot up offices. But even when it doesn’t go that far, obsession is super unpleasant to be around. People who are obsessed talk about the same thing over and over. They are blind to the gaping holes in what they believe, yet they demand absolute conformance to their crazy views. They are obnoxious, conspiratorial, and hateful. We flee them.

So what does this have to do with anything?

There have been a series of studies lately that reached an interesting set of conclusions. In essence, the studies sought to determine how activists were perceived by the public. They studied feminists and environmentalists, but the same holds true of any activist group... like Tea Party types, like talk radio, and like my divorce reform guy above. And what they found was that the public holds overwhelmingly negative views of activists. Even more interestingly, they discovered that activists actually make people less likely to adopt behaviors advocated by the activists. In other words, activists actually turn people off of their cause.

To test this, they gave people an essay on recycling and a biography of the author. One group was told the author was just a regular person without much in the way of environmentalist credentials. Another group was told that the author was engaged in low-key fundraising to help environmentalist causes. The third group was given the biography of a hardcore activist who stages protests and the such. The result was that the people who were told the author was the hardcore activist were significantly more hostile to recycling than the other two groups. In other words, knowing that the author was an aggressive activist actually made people act in the reverse manner to what the activist wanted.

Now, there are some weaknesses with this study, but years of seeing people react very poorly to activists tells me they are correct. All that screaming, table pounding and demands that the rest of the world adopt your obsession right now!! just turns people off and makes them root against you.

This is a key lesson that unfortunately is lost on the people who need to hear it: the more obsessed you act, the more you lose people. Unfortunately, just like other activists before them, our fringe has no clue how they are perceived. They mistake their obsession for righteousness and they wrongly think the public admires them. . . they don’t, they feel the same way you felt when you read that second paragraph above: they get queasy, they look for the exit, and they actively hope that the crazy doesn’t get what he wants. That’s the lesson of this study and that's how life plays out time and again.

Why this matters can be related to a quote from Otto von Bismarck. Bismarck famously said, “Politics is the art of the possible.” That is truly insightful. It’s also shocking, if you think about it. Bismarck was known as “the Iron Chancellor” and was essentially German’s first dictator. On paper, he is what the fringe argues we need right now. Yet, even in rigid, dictatorial Imperial Germany Bismarck couldn't just get his way; he could only get “what was possible.” And by that, he meant what the public was willing to give him. In fact, I would argue that Bismarck’s quote is actually incomplete. What he should have said is that “Politics is the art of shifting the landscape to make your goals possible.” That's what Reagan did... he took what he could get and he kept the ball moving and, in the process, he kept winning more and more.

What both Bismarck and Reagan understood, which ideologues/activists don’t get, is that the public is self-interested... they don’t care about crusades or ideology, they care about their own lives. As a result, the public fears those who scream about changing things and it despises troublemakers who want to disrupt the order they've established in their lives in the name of ideology. What this tells us is that the fringe is doing it all wrong. The ONLY way to win the public is to take what the public will give you right now, to use that opportunity to show that you are responsible and pose no threat to them, and then to ask them to give you a little more. Demanding everything at once is a nonstarter. And executing leaders for failing to deliver the impossible, screaming about traitors, reveling in purity and crippling the government are guaranteed to turn off the public.

The left has learned this lesson and they have a century of gains to show for it. Little by little, they’ve accepted bastardized versions of things they’ve wanted and then they went back to pushing to un-bastardize them once the public realized the world didn’t end. It has only been when they tried to push too far too fast that they experienced a backlash. The right needs to learn the same thing. The public will give you want you want a little at a time, but if you demand everything at once, you will get nothing. And if you act like an obsessed weirdo, the public will intentionally go the other way.

And if you think about it, you know this is right. When you see a child throw a tantrum, a teenager demand that the world should revolve around them, a friend obsess about his model train hobby, a jilted spouse complain about their ex, a liberal environmentalist protesting before a chemical plant... do you think, "Wow, they real mean it! There must be something to this!" No way. You think they're crazy and you want to get away from them. So why do you think the public will follow you when you do it?

Anyway, let me point out that this does not mean that you have to give up your principles. It just means you need to be sane enough to realize that you have sell people on your principles a little bit at a time, and that you can't act deranged and obsessed and expect people to adopt your ideas. It's time to learn the art of the soft push and to stop screaming like mental patients.
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Monday, October 28, 2013

ObamaCare Update

Here’s a quick Obamacare Update for those of you playing along at home. It’s been a rough week for Obama, but don’t worry, he’s on top of things.

The numbers... oh, the numbers: Every time we turn around, it turns out that the numbers are worse than expected. First, note that team Obama steadfastly refuses to release any numbers of real signups (though they will release visitor numbers) until November and they’ve forbidden the insurers from releasing numbers. Why? Well, because the numbers suck. According to one insurer, less than 20 people have signed up in North Dakota. Yes, 20 people. Zero have signed up in Alaska. One leak placed the overall number of people signing up in the first two weeks at 52,000, but then that number was dropped to 31,000. That would mean a signup rate of 2 million, whereas Obama need 7.3 million to save his skinny ass.

And it gets worse: it turns out that most of those 31,000 aren’t actually signing up for insurance... ha ha!... they are new Medicaid signups. See, to boost their numbers, Obama decided to run Medicaid signups through the same system. The problem with this is that none of those people count toward the 7.3 million because they don’t pay.

As an aside, more people signed up in one week for a one-way trip to Mars then signed up for Obamacare since it began... and their website was able to handle the traffic.

Too Little Information: Insurers are also complaining that they are getting useless data: spouses identified as children, people with multiple accounts, random closing of accounts, etc. Insurers continue to say that only a tiny percentage of the applications they have gotten are useable.

More Harm Than Good: People keep losing their insurance because of Obamacare. Over a million policies are being cancelled in Florida and New Jersey this week. The number of people losing their insurance dwarfs the number getting insurance from Obamacare. Nice work, dipsh*ts.

Freak Out!: The Democratic freak-out has begun. You can see it all over the papers and blogs. They are terrified that this thing is imploding. Their concerns are that (1) signing up has proven to be so difficult that people are being turned off and won’t come back – Jay Leno quipped that it’s easier to sign up for al Qaeda than it is to sign up for Obamacare, (2) that Obama has no plan to fix this disaster and doesn’t know whose ass to kick (hint: it’s black, skinny and can usually be found on a golf course), and (3) that the numbers coming back are so low that the “insurance rate death spiral” I’ve told you about is inevitable. Because of this, every red-state Democrat is calling for a delay of the program and others are demanding a scapegoat.

A Workaround: With signup nearly impossible, people have started contacting insurers directly. This has led to an interesting discovery. Apparently, said insurers are offering better deals with more options if you contact them directly than they are if you go through this “best deal imaginable” offered by Obamacare. If word of that spreads, then Obamacare is beyond doomed. The reason is that these people don’t count toward the 7.3 million because they aren’t paying into those pools.

Making this worse, the insurers are taking the good (paying) candidates and shipping the rest back to the exchanges where they get subsidies. In effect, the insurers are cherry picking the good clients and leaving the dregs to Obamacare, which will make the insurance rate death spiral even worse.

At this point, the media is kindly calling these people a “lost opportunity” for Obamacare, but look for them soon to become traitors and the insurers to be accused of fraud by Defenders of the Democratic Realm like 60 Minutes.

Stop! In the Name of Law: The lawsuit to stop the subsidies in states that didn’t join Obamacare voluntarily continues. If that succeeds and it has a good argument (though I can’t see it succeeding), then rates will rise for Obama’s core audience.

Senior Citizen Surcharge: So it turns out that I was wrong when I told you that they want to charge me $270 a month for crap insurance. Another glitch that has been discovered is that the rates being quoted to people aren’t being adjusted for age until they actually submit applications for insurance. At my age, that means something like a 25%-50% higher rate than the one actually quoted to me by the website. Ah, sticker shock. Anyway, twice way-too-f***ing-much is still way-too-f***ing-much.

No Penalty, huh?: The issue of the penalty has now been examined by the Wall Street Journal, and just as I told you, the IRS has no real ability to collect. They can only take the money from refunds owed to you (or they could sue you, which they won’t unless you owe millions because a US attorney needs to bring the suit and they are too busy). So if you adjust your withholding so you don’t get a refund, then you’re immune. And after ten years, the debt is automatically forgiven. But never fear, say liberals, 75% of the public gets a refund... yeah, as if those people won’t change that once they realize how to avoid paying this.

What I love about this whole situation is that it’s like watching a top notch presentation of Don Quixote. All of the silliness and fantasy the Democrats usually bring to their plans are on full display and reality is proving to be a harsh mistress as each of their fantasy ideas gets blown apart as soon as it meets reality...
1. You can’t hide lies forever.
2. You can’t lie to someone right up to the point they are asked to sign on the dotted line and still expect them to sign.
3. You can’t make people buy something they don’t want just to support your stupid ideology.
4. People don’t give the incompetent an unlimited number of chances.
5. You can’t plan a system around people acting against their own self interest.
6. Government can’t even build a website, yet we’re supposed to trust it to guide our lives?
I guess that makes Obamacare “a teachable moment.”
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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Where Have All The Meese Gone Open Thread

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a crisis. It turns out that the number of mooses (or is it meese?) has been falling dramatically in Minnesota, New Hampshire, Montana and British Columbia. Three causes have been identified, but there is a fourth they have missed.

Here are the three solutions offered by “science”... as if we can trust them:

● Brainworms. Yes, brainworms. Who knew there was such a thing? Apparently, these little suckers creep into meese brains and make them want to keell Admeeral Kirk. Sad.

● Blood sucking ticks. Yikes. Pictured below, these are 8 feet long and can drain a moose dry in under four seconds.

● Global warming. Of course. Our go-to boogeyman. Apparently, global warming makes meese less frisky so they won’t do the nasty... like Pandas. With the shutdown over, the Dept. of the Interior is now going ahead and playing moose porn videos in each of the major forests to try to get them into the mood.

Personally, I think the problem is that the meese, like everyone else, are moving to Florida and other warm states. Or it could be Asian hunters. Aside from being a good source of Moosium 3, I hear that moose testicles are a great chaser for tiger penis, shark fin and ground wombat.

As an aside, some of this was true and that means all of it is true... at least according to Hollywood and most liberals. Besides, I intended well when I lied to you, so it's all good. :D
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Film Friday: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a cult classic. In fact, it’s the first film I personally recall ever being called a cult classic. We’ve said before that what causes a film to become a cult classic is that the film is original, smart and well written, but doesn’t spoon-feed the audience, so it ends up being rejected by general audiences who lack the ability to understand the film but then finds a home with smarter audiences who “get” the film. This time, that may be a bit of a stretch.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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GOP: Still the Ideas Party

Given that this whole ObamaCare/shutdown/who's-the-biggest-two-year-old-here thing has seen another attempt to paint the Republicans as obstructionists who only know how to say no to people, etc., it's important to point out that many in our party are in fact trying to come up with positive reform proposals. Take Mike Lee, for example.

Last month, Utah's junior senator introduced a thorough tax-reform plan, one with the potential to steal a lot of the Dems' thunder, if only it can gain traction. Probably not perfect, but the point is it has lots of goody-PR stuff. For instance:

-Lots of tax credits and tax deductions would be eliminated, but mainly for those under a certain income level. Most households making less than $300,000 a year would be unaffected. Moreover, the "charitable deduction" option would be expanded across the board. This is good because, while people like having as many tax write-off options as possible, they also like the idea of a simple tax code, and the fact that the remaining deductions are stacked towards the middle class doesn't hurt.

-Speaking of simplification, the system of tax brackets is greatly reduced under Lee's plan, with a 15% rate for everyone making less than $87,850, and a 35% rate for everyone making more than that.

-There's a lot here, too, for families with children to like: There would be a $2,500 tax credit per child, which would carry over into both income and payroll tax deduction. Lee argues that this would reduce the burden families face in raising kids, shifting it towards those without such obligations. This is a way, he says, of equalizing the de facto tax burden, and while I'm not so sure I personally agree with that, it also has the potential to play very well with middle-class families, the people Obama and Co. always claim to be sticking up for.

And that's the real takeaway here. As we all know, if we're paying any attention to the news feed from the last couple weeks, the ObamaCare trainwreck has people starting to doubt the administration's ability to help out the "little guy," something it's made its reputation on. A huge opportunity may be opening up here to show who has the better plan to strengthen the middle class--that Holy Grail of politics--and this is a place where the GOP can stake out its ground.

I don't want to give the impression that I'm endorsing the plan wholeheartedly. In a perfect world, I'd like a one-rate-fits-all kind of plan, and this particular formulation might antagonize the upper-middle-class somewhat, given the relative hike for those making 100K or thereabout. But that's not the only issue here. What's important to note is the activity some of our people in Congress are continuing to show. This idea can be batted about, revised, maybe even rejected (okay, probably even rejected). But the point is, it's the sort of thing that gets people talking on issues like tax reform. And that's a good thing.

I'm also glad to see the way Mike Lee is going. He has very conservative credentials, both objectively and in how the base perceives him; and while guys like Cruz and Rubio are drawing a lot of lightning, he and others are quietly building conservative agendas. The party needs both types, and good for him for taking the least flashy role.
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

New York Race to the Bottom...

There is just so much going on in the world, I just can't focus. It's because of the NY mayoral race. The two candidates are going at it like cats and mice. So when I am not trying to glean non-existent information from the New York insurance exchange website, I have been trying glean information about the candidates. Here is what I have learned so far:

Bill de Blasio, the Democrat (photo above on the left) who is married to a African-American former lesbian is promising everything but the kitchen sink (well, that too):

1. Tax "the rich" to pay for stuff like free universal kindergarten for all.
2. Fire Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and end that evil "broken window" policing and the infamous "stop & frisk" policing made so popular by the last two mayors. It doesn't matter that the murder rate is down to less than 400 a year. It targets high crime areas that just happen to be high minority areas's racist.
3. Bunches of "affordable" housing (that's the kitchen sink)
4. He will continue the appeal that Bloomberg filed to strike down the state court judges decision that found the his mandatory "16 oz soda ban" arbitrary and capricious.
5. He pal'ed around with the Sandinista's and honeymooned in Cuba with his former lesbian bride.
6. Oh, and his son has a big 'fro.

Joe Lhota, the Republican candidate (photo above on the right) who was Deputy Mayor under Rudy Guiliani and is the former head of the MTA, is...well...who knows. He hasn't really shown up yet. Seriously, he has made almost no impression on anyone except he swears he is NOT the "Tea Party" candidate and is definitely NOT a Washington Republican.

Honestly, there have been two televised debates with one more left and I just can't bear to watch them. I have watched just long enough to want to destroy my television or fear that I will suffer a massive stroke. I just have to walk away. It's not a big stretch for me to call this race now. Bill de Blasio will be our next mayor. He is leading Lhota by high double digits, so no one has any grand illusions that Lhota has a prayer of winning. Not because de Blasio is the better candidate, but because of "regime change".

We have had Republican mayors (well, Bloomberg was a Republican after he was a Democrat and before he was an Independent) for 20 years and the city has improved in just about every way one can gauge. New York is certainly safer and cleaner than it has ever been. So safe and clean that tourism is booming and real estate prices are unaffordable for just about anyone but the wealthy. People are tired of all that good stuff and long for the bad old days where rents were were low and crime was high. It was fun. It was challenging. So now it's time to let the Democrats take over to restore the balance of the universe and put that challenge back in.

Oh, here's something interesting. You know how Mayor Bloomberg has spent the last 12 years trying to save us from ourselves? Apparently it didn't work. We are not any healthier and are actually 25% heavier than in 2002...

And speaking of 25% heavier, it looks like Chris Christie will be reelected as New Jersey's Governor by an overwhelming margin.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Top 20 Horror Films You Should Know

October is upon us! Run for your lives! It’s horror movie month! So let's revive this article.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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A Conservative Agenda: Education (Part One)

All right, let’s talk about the agenda I outlined in my book. As I noted, the idea is to create an agenda that appeals to the public at large, who are not ideologues. The purpose is to spot the things that matter to average Americans and address them in ways that fit with conservative principles so they will see a reason to vote for us. Let’s start with the issue of the cost of college.

Education is one of the top priorities for most Americans, and any successful agenda must deal with this issue and must address both K-12 and college. Today we start with college. College is vitally important to people’s success and to the success of the country as a whole. As I pointed out a couple weeks ago, people with college degrees will do much, much better than the “I never needs no skooling” crowd by as much as $5.3 million over the course of their careers, depending on the degrees they choose. They are also better off in recessions and they recover quicker. Anyone who tells you we shouldn’t be encouraging people to go to college is a fool.

But there is a problem with college: cost. I first outlined this for you back in 2009. Under the current system, students are being weighed down with the equivalent of a mortgage in student loan debt just to get through college. In 1981, the average yearly cost of attending a four-year college program was $3,499 (that’s in 2011 dollars). Today, it’s up to $22,092! That means college is 6.3 times more expensive in real terms today than it was in 1980. Consequently, today’s students will pay around $89,000 for an undergraduate degree and most of that will be debt. Government figures say that students currently owe more than one trillion dollars in student loan debt.

What this means is that these students, the best and brightest among us, are saddled with a debt that will take 10-15 years to pay off. So rather than starting families, buying homes, starting retirement plans, investing, building businesses, etc., they will spend their most productive years paying off debt. That is a huge disservice to them and to our economy. It’s bad for the interior of the country too (red states) because it means the smarter kids need to stay on the coasts where they earn more to pay back their loans.

More importantly, this is an issue that resonates with the public. Parents worry that their kids can’t afford college or will be weighed down forever by this... or they dread becoming co-signers. College kids despise the debt they are being saddled with. And young professionals struggle to pay off their debts for years. Each of those groups are groups the GOP lost in a big way. Why did the GOP lose them? Well, for one thing, because the GOP response to this issue has been offensive and stupid: basically, conservatives have groused that people shouldn’t go to college. Talk about a response that’s guaranteed to lose the public!

So what should conservatives offer? Three things come to mind, each of which is designed to make college more affordable and more accessible:
(1) Free State College for the Top 15%. Conservatives should advocate letting the Top 15% of high school graduates go to any state college anywhere in the United States for free, provided they maintain a 3.2 GPA or higher.

The purpose here is to make sure that the brightest kids can always afford to go to college. It also frees these kids up from student loan debt when they get out so they can act freely within the economy. It also provides an incentive for high school kids and their parents to make sure they do their best to get into that Top 15%. And it will help state colleges attract the kids they normally lose to places like Harvard.

But what about cost? You might be surprised. In 2012, 3.4 million students graduated from high school, so 510,000 students would be eligible for this program. The average in-state tuition at the moment is around $8,000 a year. Thus, the cost of this program would be $4.08 billion if they all participate – which they won’t. This is less than 10% of the Federal Government’s current $41 billion financial aid budget, which we can probably slash in half with our next idea.

(2) Maximum Pricing Provisions. The primary reason college costs have shot up is because student loans act like a pricing mechanism which lets colleges coordinate their rates. The result is that as loan availability has gone up, so have prices because schools know students can afford it. To counter this, we would ideally drop the student loan program entirely and watch colleges dramatically slash their prices to attract the students. But that’s politically impossible and suggesting it would only hurt us. So, instead, we should advocate the government using its market power to set maximum prices. Specifically, we should propose that any institution that wants its students to be eligible to receive federal loans cannot charge those students more than the average in-state tuition charged by state schools nationwide. Further, if the students are required to live on campus, then room and board must be provided at cost to those students. This will slash the cost of college dramatically and immediately.

But wait, how can a conservative argue for a price control? Because this isn’t a price control. An actual price control is an attempt to control a free market. This is not that. This is simply a condition on the receipt of a subsidy, and if a particular school believes this is unfair, then they are free to forgo the subsidy and charge market prices instead. Moreover, keep in mind that this is hardly a novel idea. The government already does this when it issues fixed-fee contracts to contractors, when it imposes “most-favored customer” clauses or unilaterally sets prices under Medicare, and conservatives are more than happy to argue that things like welfare should come with strings attached. It’s disingenuous to say we can dictate terms to poor people but not to rich schools.

And make no mistake, these schools are stinking rich. Harvard’s endowment is more than $34 billion dollars. Sixty-nine colleges have endowments larger than one billion dollars each. All told, colleges hold $410 billion in investments. These schools do not need taxpayer dollars to survive. If they don’t like this change, then they can hope students will keep paying their outrageous prices or they can dig into those endowments to make schools cheaper for students... they can finally face the free market.

(3) Fed Discount Rate Interest Rates. Finally, we need a solution for the people who are already saddled with these debts. The Democrats talk about forgiving student loan debt, but there’s too much to forgive at a trillion dollars. A better plan would be to convert all debts to a repayment schedule of 20 years and charge students the Federal Funds Discount Rate which the federal government charges to the nation’s biggest banks (about 0.75%). Seriously, if it’s good enough for banks, it should be good enough for taxpayers as well.
Think about what this agenda does. First, it promises the people most concerned about education that their kids can get a good college education for free (or very cheaply). It slashes the subsidy that has been ensconced in the law to support ultra-rich schools. It cuts the cost of college probably by a factor of 3 or 4, which will help current and future students. By all but eliminating interest rates, it helps the young professionals who are struggling with college debt. And its costs can be absorbed within the present system. Offering this will go a long way toward winning over the college students, the young families, and the minority families we have lost in record numbers.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Global Catastrophe Crowd: Wrong Again

There are times I feel badly for the “environmental” movement... well, no, that’s not true. I feel sorry for them in the same way I feel badly for someone who has set up a terrific scam only for it to fall apart when a cop happens by. What am I talking about? Well, this...

Ever since radical leftists hijacked the environmental movement, they’ve tried to invent new theories that would let them impose their socialist view on America. They want to eliminate personal freedom by stripping away cars and internet use and consumer choice, forcing people into smaller homes or communal living, and forcing them to engage in “green” activities that are more like mind-control than environmental protection. They have pushed for massive regulatory increases on the US and Europe only. They want wealth transferred to “the oppressed poor,” i.e. Africa, meaning both cash transfers as well as technology transfers. Their wish list reads like it comes from the Soviet Union’s deconstruction agenda for the West.

But things aren’t going according to plan.
● First they tried a global ice age... but it got warmer. Frustrating people, frustrating.

● Then they tried overpopulation and global famine... but food supplies soared and birth rates crashed. Damn you capitalism!

● They tried mass extinctions... but that didn’t happen. To the contrary, scientists eager for dollars starting discovering “new species” at a record pace by redefining sub-species as new.

● America without trees? Yep... uh, no. There are more trees here now than there were when the first honkey climbed off the express from Europe.

● They tried the ozone hole, but that closed again despite claims it could never close again.
None of this was working. They needed something bigger. Then they thought they’d found it when they realized that temperatures were going up...
● Global warming. Yep, things keeps getting hotter. All we need to do is massage the data to make it seem like this is the hottest it’s ever been, by for example ignoring warmer periods, manipulating our data in any way necessary, and by using a ridiculously short period of comparison! Bingo! The perfect scam.
Yeah, only, call it God, call it Karma or just the universe, whatever it is, it has a way of exposing lies. So lo and behold, the moment people started buying into this scam, the warming stopped. Yep. Stopped cold (no pun intended).

Even worse, their list of doomsday scenarios started to be exposed as fantasy. They predicted the end to the ice caps... then we got record ice caps. The Himalayas were about to lose all their snow. Whoops, had to retract that one. Coastal cities were going to be sunken by a rising ocean, only all the supposed sinking was offset by rising land. They predicted the oceans would stop circulating, only, they didn’t. Next, they tried the water crisis, which was supposed to result in countries going to war to help their parched citizens survive. Yeah, that didn’t happen either. It turns out that 70% of the planet is covered in water... who knew?

Things were not going well. Clearly, the scam had to pivot.
● So they switched to the nebulous “climate change” and they warned of horribly extreme weather. Like a sci-fi channel disaster weekend, they predicted waves of tornadoes, out-of-control wildfires, extreme heat and cold, and hurricanes... mucho hurricanes. Al Gore even repeated this crap this weekend (I believe he chanted it from the doomsday tower attached to his mansion). Only, it hasn’t happened either.
● The past few years have seen the lowest number of tornadoes in decades.

● Wildfires are at a decade low.

● Extreme heat? Hardly. We’re at a 100 year low in terms of the number of extreme heat days.

● How about the hurricanes? We are currently in the longest period since the Civil War without a major (category 3, 4, 5) hurricane hitting the US, and this hurricane season has been a total dud.
Nature actually seems to delight in debunking the claims of these people. It’s almost like somebody up there is sick of them. I know I am. There are good environmental causes, but as long as these leftist liars keep up their garbage, they are only stopping good things from being done.
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Don't Fall For Scaremongering

Have you ever noticed that Americans do really terribly on international tests and surveys? The latest example involves a survey that purports to show that American adults rank 21 of 23 in math and 15 of 23 in literacy among the developed world. Panic!!! Hold on. This number is misleading, as are many such numbers. Let’s discuss.

Fear sells. If a magazine put “Everything is fine!” on its cover, then no one would buy. So instead, they push fake crises. Politicians do this too, as do businesses who want your money. This is how numbers like the 21/23 and 15/23 come about. They are meant to scare you. They are meant to shock you: “You mean we aren’t the best in the world?! Something has gone wrong! Ahhhhhh! We must ____!” And when you are sufficiently panicked, they will happily fill in that blank for you. Don’t fall for this. Always look behind the numbers. Observe.

The rankings above are the result of a random survey of 5,000 people. They took a quick test which was ranked between 0-500 points. The results were then averaged and fed to the news as the latest example of how bad things are in America. But these numbers don’t actually say that. How can I be sure? Well, each score is within +/- 4% of the median. Why does this matter? In a normal survey, that would put them well within the margin of error. Here they claim that is not true because the survey size was large – at 5,000 people. Thus, the margin of error is around 1-2%. But that’s misleading. That margin of error only applies to the median because that’s the only number created by all 5,000 people. When you look at each country’s score, what you find is that only around 220 people were tested in each country. That means that margin of error for any particular country score is closer to +/- 8%. That means that every country is within half the margin of error. That means that mathematically speaking, there is NO difference between these countries that we can say with any degree of certainty.

But that’s not scary, so they cite this number as if it really has meaning.

It’s the same thing with so many other numbers. When they talk about test scores of high school kids, for example, those numbers are so close that using those numbers to rank countries is like ranking toothpicks by height when the issue is comparing toothpicks to yardsticks to trees. Other numbers meant to scare us are similarly warped. People point to meaningless differences, ignore key facts, and make wrong comparisons.

For example, did you know that Mohammed is the number two name for children born in Britain? Wow, that means they must be awash in Muslim kids, right? Panic!! When someone says that Mohamed is number two, people wrongly assume (1) that there must be millions of these Mohameds being born otherwise they wouldn’t be near the top of the list, and (2) if it’s the number two name, then there must be almost as many Muslims being born as Christian British. And that is what the scaremongers want you to believe. But is this right? Hardly.

First, being number two isn’t that big of a deal. Do you know how many Mohamed were born last year? 7,549. That’s it. And that’s out of 706,248 child born. Essentially, 1% of children born in Britain were named Mohamed. Not so scary anymore, is it? And what about this idea that being second means there must be an equal number of Muslims as Christians being born? People forget that almost all Muslims name their sons Mohamed, whereas whites don’t do that, i.e. we don’t all name out sons Jesus. Thus, Mohamed’s high ranking is deceptive because Muslims are more likely to name their children Mohamed whereas people wrongly assume a normal distribution similar to Christian behavior. In other words, the high number of Mohameds does not imply an equally high number of Omars and Saddams. So how many Muslims do think there are in the UK? All of 2.7 million... 4.8% of the population. Not so threatening anymore, is it, certainly not compared to hearing that Mohammed is now the number two name!!

All right, so what about this 47% of the public who pay no taxes? (The number actually fell to 43% in 2013, but that’s neither here nor there.) I bought this one at the time, but I shouldn’t have. Let’s take a closer look at the figure than we have in the past. Consider this: 27.3% of the population is under 20 and 12.8% of the population is over 65. Combined, these two groups account for 41% of the population and most members of these two groups likely pay no taxes. If you subtract them from the 47% figure, then you get 6%. In other words, only 6% of working age Americans pay no taxes. That’s a very different world than the one painted by the assertion of the 47% figure.

Folks, America ain’t so bad, and things are nowhere near as dire as people want you to believe with these headline grabbing, but ultimately false, numbers. When we look at things to worry about and talk about plans to fix them, let’s be sure we know what the real extent of the problem is.
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

The SNL ObamaCare Skit That Didn't Happen

If Saturday Night Live had even the slightest bit of comedic integrity, they would be poking fun at all the massive problems their idol Obama is causing with Obamacare. But they don’t. So here is what you missed because SNL is a pathetic lapdog of the Democrats.

Mrs. John Anderson (Wife of SNL Slug): What are you doing, honey?

Mr. John Anderson (SNL Slug): I’m shopping for insurance on so we don’t get fined.

Wife: What do you mean fined?

John Anderson: If we don’t buy insurance, which we can’t afford, we’ll get fined by the IRS. That’s Obama’s way of helping us.

Wife: Oh, that’s wonderful. The Girl Scouts should do that too. It would be great for their business! How much does the insurance cost?

John Anderson: I have no idea. I can’t get into the site. And the one time I did, it asked for all of our personal information, it accessed our credit, it demanded naked pictures of us, and then it locked me out.

Forget this, honey! They have a phone number: 1-800-FUK-YOUZ. I’m calling them!

//phone rings

Voice of HAL 9000: This call will be monitored by the National Security Agency to determined if you are a terrorist.

Obamacare Navigator: This is Agent Smith. How can I help you, Mr. Anderson?

John Anderson: How did you know my name?

Obamacare Navigator: We know everything, Mr. Anderson.

John Anderson: You know, I have rights. And one of those is the right to privacy.

Obamacare Navigator: Go ahead, Mr. Anderson. Try to use that right. It will be interesting to see how you use it when you can’t speak.

John Anderson: Uh... I was just kidding. I’m looking to sign up for Obamacare.

Obamacare Navigator: Give me access to your bank account.

John Anderson: Wait a minute! You haven’t told me how much this will cost.

Obamacare Navigator: That’s none of your business.

John Anderson: I refuse.

Obamacare Navigator: Don’t make me drone you, Mr. Anderson.

John Anderson: Uh... just kidding again! Here’s my bank information—

Obamacare Navigator: We already have it. You’ve been charged $2,150.

John Anderson: Wow! That’s not bad for a year.

Obamacare Navigator: That’s for the first month.

John Anderson: But that's more than twice what I was paying before! Obama said this was supposed to be affordable!

Obamacare Navigator: He meant for the insurance companies.

John Anderson: He what?

Obamacare Navigator: Drones, Mr. Anderson... can you hear them?

John Anderson: Uh... yeah, that’s a great rate. What’s my deductible?

Obamacare Navigator: $5,000 a year.

John Anderson: But my current employer’s plan had a $1,200 deductible.

Obamacare Navigator: Then stay on that plan.

John Anderson: They cancelled it when Obama let Big Business off the hook. What is my yearly out of pocket?

Obamacare Navigator: You’ll find out.

John Anderson: What does that mean?

Obamacare Navigator: It means, we’re not telling you yet... not until we get your money.

John Anderson: Can you give me a hint?

Obamacare Navigator: It will be somewhere between $12,700 a year and $17,000, Mr. Anderson. But it could be higher too. And for the first year it’s actually $25,400 or more.

John Anderson: That’s insane! Why even have insurance!!!

Obamacare Navigator: Drones, Mr. Anderson... drones. So can I put you down for a yes?

[Scene changes to two old, white, male executives who have been monitoring this discussion and looking at Mr. and Mrs. Anderson’s naked pictures.]
Mortimer Duke: I can’t believe we didn’t think of this sooner, Randolph?

Randolph Duke: Good things take time, Mortimer.

Mortimer Duke: Who would have guessed that we could use the US government to force people to buy insurance that is twice as expensive and covers less than their prior insurance?

Randolph Duke: The threat of force is a wonderful thing.

Mortimer Duke: Well, you won the bet. //hands over $1 bill You know, I’m surprised Obama agreed to this.

Randolph Duke: // laughs

Mortimer Duke: Why are you laughing?

Randolph Duke: Obama? You think there’s an Obama. Take a look at this picture of George W. Bush and compare it to Obama.

Mortimer Duke: My God, Randolph! You just painted the animatronic Bush black and put a wig on him!

Randolph Duke: Exactly, Mortimer. Did you really think I would let a negro run this country?

Mortimer Duke: Of course not. Now let’s work on that Girl Scout Cookie bill.

Randolph Duke: Why not?
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Friday, October 18, 2013

Film Friday: Paranormal Activity (2007)

Earlier this week, we talked about how too many horror films fail to take advantage of the things that naturally scare us. Instead, they rely on a final reveal to scare the audience along with a few moments of shock as their monster jumps out at the audience or a few moments of gore as they try to scare us by showing a bloody death. Paranormal Activity is different. This is a super smart film.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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In which I string a bunch of loosely connected thoughts together and try to make a post out of them.

Well, it ended this week. Our long national reprieve from bureaucratic Idiocracy nightmare is over, as Congress has finally reached a deal to reopen the government. Hurting people everywhere rejoiced! (Except the markets, which promptly tanked early the next morning.) So yesterday and today, we got to hear or see a bunch of headlines querying who are the winners and who are the losers in this fight. (Spoiler alert: It's the Republicans, because they're always the losers.)

My reaction? Meh. For one thing, I personally didn't care about getting the shutdown terror resolved anytime soon--I was kind of enjoying it, frankly--and for another, I got tired of the 24/7 coverage after a while. I mean, how many times can you watch the CNN timer display, down to the second, how long it's been the shutdown started? But more importantly, I was jonesing for more displays of citizens sticking it to SHUTDOWN THEATER. Let's be honest, the best thing about the shutdown was really one of the best things we've seen in a while--WWII vets charging the barricades thrown up around the National Mall and the D.C. war memorials (the ones it probably cost more money to put up than it would have to keep the sites open in the first place). Sure, it was a nice little bit of mud in Obama's eye, but more than that, it was an increasingly-rare middle finger to the petty bureaucracy that does his will.

Being the young and embittered soul that I am, I spend a lot of time thinking about what problem, what fundamental problem, this country has that needs to be fixed for everything else to heal itself. At the moment, I'd have to say it's this habit of obedience we fall into. Think about it. Usually, at least once a week we hear about some story somewhere, usually involving a court or a government agency, that gets us a little riled, like "ACLU sues to get Christian organization off school grounds" or "NSA enacts new round of humiliating stop-and-frisk procedures" and so on and so on. And what do we do? Yeah, we get mad. Yeah, we say "People shouldn't stand for this crap!" or something to that effect. And then what? And then we leave the house for the commute or go back to our homework or turn on the game or whatever. Let's face it, 90% of us, and probably more, are not going to get out into the streets, ever, to show our outrage at something. Because we can't be bothered.

I should note that I'm indicting myself here as well. I talk a good game online or in Letters to the Editor, and I like to imagine myself folding my arms and telling the dern guvmint to get off my property if they know what's good for them, but who am I kidding? Come next spring, I'll pay those taxes that are going to useless agencies or to subsidize SEIU, just like everyone else. I'll grumble about it, maybe I'll give the IRS some snippy and sarcastic feedback, but I'll pay them. And it's not a thought that occupies me 24/7, anyway. Still, it irritates me. I can't shake the feeling that if the Founding Fathers were transported to the year 2013, after taking part in the Boston Tea Party and the Stamp Act boycotts and all that, they'd think we're all sheep. (If you're thinking of replying that 90% of people didn't take part in that revolutionary stuff either, which is not really true anyway, shut up. I'm on a roll here.)

Indeed, this is something conservatives have always come up short on against the Left. We joke all the time that we don't have time to protest because we're too busy having real jobs and so on. Which is true. But hey, the squeaky wheel gets the most grease, doesn't it? The descendants of those dumb hippies and spongers who made a mess of things in the '60s and '70s, they're the ones running Washington right now.

All of which is to say that if the Right wants to profoundly change America, back to what it ought to be, it will have to take part of large-scale civil disobedience. I'm not saying that it will happen. I'm not even saying that it should happen. Hey, I don't want to spend a bunch of time out protesting and get my name put away in a surveillance file somewhere (assuming it isn't already, of course). What I'm saying is that, if we want Y to happen, X will have to happen first. Someone, somewhere, is going to have to tell the EPA to come out here and stop me from putting a fence on my own land, tell the --th Circuit Court my business will cater to whom I want it to and not to whom I don't want it to, tell the IRS it can have my tax money when it can prove it's stopped abusing my tax money.

It's a tall order, and I'm not going to be the one to lead it. I don't have the stomach for it, so I'm not saying someone ought to start it. You can't say that if you're not willing to step into the line of fire yourself. But if we want to get anything substantial accomplished, then this will have to happen.

So that's my opinion on where we're at right now. Thoughts?
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

More Fun With Obamacare - New York Style!

The week the exchanges went online, I challenged you to find out information about the exchanges in your state. And at the time, I reported that it was almost impossible to find out the information on the New York insurance exchanges. Someone in New York must have read my tale of woe because more information has been dribbling out. Honestly, one has to be pretty tech savvy and very patient to find it and use it. The information provided without having to sign up is there, just not in one place.

Just for fun, let's start at the beginning. The Alpha of New York Health Insurance Exchanges:

Here is a link to the New York State of Health website: New York Health exchanges!

Here is a link to the basic plan for each precious metal category: Basic plans

Here is a link to the premium and subsidy estimator: Tax Credit and Premium Estimator [Look hard and you will find it. There is a link at about the middle of the page. Yeah, right there so small you'd miss it if you weren't looking for it.]

Now if you've made it THIS far, here is a link to the insurance providers that are available in each county: Insurance Providers by County

Last week, there was a link to a lovely EXCEL spreadsheet that had links to all of the providers and even sometimes the providers had basic information about what each of their plans provided, but that seems to have disappeared.

The bottom line is that there is no one place where you can get information on plans (deductibles, out-of-pockets etc) and premiums in the same place. I tried to develop my own spreadsheet that married the premium ranges with the basic plans, but it was becoming a full-time job, so I gave up. I am not sure why this is supposed to be such a chore. I am worn out and I am not even signing up!

Here are some basic premium ranges and plans for the "silver" plans which are supposed to be the plan one has to buy to receive any subsidies:
For a single person living in Manhattan with a yearly income of $45,000, there are nine "silver" plans from which to choose with monthly premiums that range from $360 to $645 minus $9 monthly advance subsidy. Each plan has a deductible of $2000 plus $5,500 out-of-pocket expenses and $30-$150 co-pays.

Upstate New York in Onondaga County, there are five plans with monthly premiums that range from $285 to $462 (no subsidy) which presumably have the same deductible/out-of-pocket expenses/co-pays.
I can see why they are trying very hard to keep this all a big secret for as long as possible. For someone living in Manhattan who is earning $45,000, that is NOT any great bargain. Andrew quoted that upwards of 80K people have signed up in New York, however it has been reported in the local papers that 40K have signed up. I have a sneaking suspicion that the high number includes people who have "created an account" which does not mean one has actually purchased insurance yet.

Anyway, play around with the estimators and find out how much you would pay if you live in New York. Have fun, but not TOO much fun!
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Where Most Horror Films Go Wrong

Horror is an interesting genre. It’s the one that’s most accessible to new talent because it doesn’t rely upon specific formulas, established actors, or huge budgets. It also seems the easiest in which to make a decent film. After all, we all know what scares us, right? Well, not quite. A lot of horror films just fall flat. And where I think they go wrong is that they fail in one specific regard: they don’t understand human psychology.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Default Open Thread

Owing to a busy schedule, I've been unable to prepare an article for tonight. So let us instead speculate as to when and whether our government will default on the payment of its debt. Apparently, we've done so twice before -- 1790 and 1933.

Personally, I'm thinking we will default because Washington is awash in irresponsible children. So I lead off the bidding with: Yes, we will default and no deal will be reached until we get a new Congress in 2014.

In a strangely related aside, did anyone see what happened in the two Walmarts in Louisiana? It turns out that the company who processes the electronic food stamp cards (Xerox) had a computer go down. The result was that the "Louisiana Purchase" cards (good grief) suddenly became without limits. The Walmart people knew something was wrong. They contacted their HQ for guidance, and were told to go ahead and let these people buy as much as they wanted. And so they did. They nearly emptied the food aisles at the two stores before the cards reactivated and the locusts abandoned cart-fulls of food.

Now the bills are coming due. Any thoughts on who should pay them? Personally, I suspect Xerox's contract makes them liable for errors. I also think WalMart will pony up because what they did was basically knowingly abet fraud. Probably a couple of the biggest abusers will be prosecuted as well.

In any event, these unseemly displays kind of show that Congress and welfare cheats think alike, doesn't it?
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Obamacare Week Two

Obamacare just can’t catch a break. . . evil never does. It looks like the numbers are even worse than expected, unless you believe the whoppers coming out of New York. Moreover, the technical problems appear to be worse than expected. Here are some more thoughts:

What Numbers?: HHS won’t release the number of people who have signed up for Obamacare until November, though I suspect they won’t release them then either. But that hasn’t stopped the numbers from leaking out. Last week, we spoke about some of the numbers and what they mean. This week, others are catching on. According to the Mail Online, administration sources have said that only 55,000 people signed up for insurance during the first week. The fact they won’t counter these numbers and the horrible PR they bring suggests they are accurate.

As an aside, New York claims it signed up 80,000 people, which would be more than everyone else combined and six times what California claims... something isn't right there.

Just Short of the Green: The Mail Online calculates that at this rate, only 2 million people will sign up during the required six month open enrollment period. Obamacare needs more than 7 million to be financially viable.

Don't Sign Up Anyone Under 30: Obamacare also needs 2.7 million “young invincibles” to foot the bill for the everyone else. Clearly, that ain’t happening. In fact, the 2 million number suggests they won’t get any of the “young invincibles,” which isn't surprising because that's basically throwing away money.

The Big Flopper: If only 2 million of the 48 million uninsured sign up for Obamacare, then it’s a flop. Add in the fact that they would rather be fined than “helped” and what you have is a thorough repudiation.

Obamacare? We Don't No Stinking Obamacare: Let’s think about this 2 million number. There are at least 9 million uninsurables who supposedly need insurance to stave of bankruptcy and to get critical treatment. So why aren’t they all signing up? Well, either, Obamacare is a bad deal for them OR there aren’t really 9 million uninsurables. Either way, the program loses it's biggest justification.

One Step Forward, Three Steps Back: If only 2 million people sign up, then Obamacare has thrown 3 people off insurance for every person it added, as the run-up to Obamacare caused 6 million people to lose their insurance. Sounds like the government.

Glitch In The Machine: The government is now privately admitting that they may need to scrap the $614 billion Obamacare computer system and start over. According to computer experts who have examined the system, it was built backwards with the wrong things using the most resources and by trying to use too much information at once. Tinkering won’t fix it. There are new problems discovered each day too. The insurers now say that they are getting duplicate applications along with phantom cancellations because of a glitch... so they don't know who is real and who isn't. Apparently, it's not calculating the subsidies correctly either, so one insurer stopped issuing insurance because they don't know if they are giving the right prices.

Compare My Butt: The administration keeps trying to avoid the obvious that people aren't signing up by claiming that people are just comparison shopping at this point, which is why there haven’t been more applications. Yeah, only that’s nonsense. For one thing, there is nowhere to comparison shop. And if there was, then the whole justification for Obamacare goes down in flames. Think about that.

For another, industry people have noted that the website is build backwards, so that you need to apply before you can find out what it will cost you. Thus, no one who hasn’t opened an account can comparison shop! Indeed, the industry people are stunned. They note that there isn’t a commercial website in the world where you need to give your personal information before they tell you what they are offering.

You Fail!: Not surprisingly, Obamacare gets really poor reviews. According to an AP poll:
● Only 7% of the public say the rollout has gone extremely well or well. In fact, only 19% of Obamacare supporters say the rollout has gone extremely well or well.

● 40% say it hasn’t gone well. The other 53% don't care enough to find out.

● Only 7% of respondents said that someone in their household has tried to sign up. And 75% of them experienced problems. Further, only 10% of those who tried actually went on to sign up for Obamacare, and 25% of those people weren’t sure if they had signed up correctly or not.
As an interesting aside, the AP claims these numbers are encouraging because 7% of the public could mean 20 million people want to sign up... but compare that to the 48 million they're supposed to help (still optimistic?). In any event, the AP is wrong. The question was households, not people. There are 310 million people, but only about 120 million households in the country. Thus, the "interested" number is closer to 8.4 million. Then you factor in that only 1 in 10 actually signed up and you’re looking at 840,000 by the AP’s count. But even if half of them eventually sign up, you’re still only talking four million... again, three million short of what they need. And even if all of them sign up, you're still looking at 16% of the people the program was supposed to help.

Enough Rope: Finally, this is what happens when the Republicans don’t save the Democrats from themselves. The Democrats are brutally incompetent in everything they do, and historically, they’ve relied on the Republicans fixing their messes to make their programs palatable. This time, the Republican leadership stood fast. The result is an epic disaster unfolding. This is a system that has thrown more people off insurance than it’s covered. It’s cost a fortune and it doesn’t work. It’s attracting less than a third in raw numbers of what it needs to be financially stable and it has no chance of attracting the quality of applicants it needs.

This thing will die under its own weight. Let it.

But even more importantly, realize that you can’t get the public on your side about something until they feel its sting. With less than one in five of the people who will be fined even knowing someone who bothered to visit the websites, the public isn’t ready yet for this to be a big deal. Attack it rhetorically, but wait for the backlash to try to kill it. In the meantime, do what the Democrats do so well... tell the public they need to elect more of you if they want this thing killed.
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Let's Move On

Our fringe has become a problem. They offer nothing but ignorance, hypocrisy, and unfocused hate, which they aim at the Republicans. They are disloyal and destructive, and I have been trying to stop talking about them because it’s pointless to engage them and dangerous to humor them. And, frankly, I’m sick of them. But something happened Sunday needs to be called out. Then it’s time to move on.

Our fringe is a problem. They are 6% of the American public (twice as large as gays, half as large as Hispanics or blacks, just smaller than Jews and Muslims) who act like a doomsday cult and the other 84% of the public pretty much despises them. What’s more, they have become obsessed with destroying the Republicans and every conservative who doesn’t foam at the mouth like they do.

Fortunately, everything I’ve seen tells me that they have peaked at something less than 20% of the GOP, and their influence is waning because their own disloyalty makes them unreliable. And I’m seeing a lot of signs that the Republicans are moving on from them, including a lot of big name conservatives like Tom Coburn, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Brit Hume, Fred Barnes, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, etc. There are even signs that Rand Paul is avoiding them. The writing is on the wall.

What will probably finish them off is the re-election of Mitch McConnell. For many years, the fringe dictated Republican policy, even as they falsely whined that the Republicans were under the control of secret RINOs. Lately, the Republicans have started fighting back and they seem to have found a formula to defend themselves against the fringe: full and open support of the people the fringe attacks. This is bad news for the fringe. So they, led by Glenn Beck and Mark Levin, have chosen Mitch McConnell as a demonstration of their power. If they can unseat McConnell in the primary, then they believe they can cow the Republicans back into line. But in taking this risk, they are exposing their weakness to the Republicans. If they lose, then their influence will be destroyed within the Party.

My money is on McConnell.

In any event, I am done with them. It’s not productive to whine and scream about traitors and doomsday. It’s pointless to discuss a quasi-ideology that is irrational and can’t even define itself except as requiring the outing of the disloyal. It is dishonest to make up facts, to invent secret truths, and to try to trick people into following you. So from now on, I have no intention of talking about these shits anymore because they are simply not relevant to America’s future.

Instead, I’m going to talk about conservatism, something people like Levin, Savage, Rush, Beck, Hannity, Bachmann, Cruz, and the rest know precious little about. I’m going to start Wednesday by talking about the agenda I wrote about and we’ll see where that takes us. It’s time to talk about America.

But first, there was something that happened this Sunday that needs to be called out. The fringer in question is a local radio host named Jimmy Lakey. Lakey is another Levin/Beck/Limbaugh. He banks on his audience being low-information listeners who simply lap up the lies he spews as he tells them they are superior Americans while he warns them that they can’t verify the things he tells them because some mystery conspiracy won’t let this information out... except to him. Here’s what he did Sunday.

As I was preparing to watch football, I suddenly got a call from a relative. They were deeply worried about “what was happening in DC” and they told me to turn on Lakey. So I did. Here is what Lakey said:
1. There are over a million veterans in DC right now.
2. They are trying to protest something (unexplained) which is bad for Obama.
3. Obama fears them and said something (unexplained).
4. This caused them to start toward the White House to voice their objections.
5. The evil tyrant Obama (with the full support of Boehner... naturally) “called out the riot police.”
6. There are "riot police surrounding the White House right now!"
7. There are reports they’ve fired tear gas into the crowd.
8. But don’t expect to find this on the news because the MSM won’t tell you about this. “Only a couple images have leaked out onto the net.”
9. Then he finished with a gratuitous attack on the Republicans for “being identical to the Democrats blah blah blah” and not supporting the veterans.
Glenn Beck then put this on his website (complete with video) and Drudge linked to it too.

None of this is true.

Based on the photos, there were only a couple thousand people tops... maybe less than 2,000. See below.
What they wanted is not clear and Lakey sure as hell didn’t know. But one thing is clear: the White House does not call out riot police. They don’t have any. What happened is that a group of about eight to ten DC police or Park Police (it's not clear which) came to the fence near the White House to talk to a group demonstrators. They were surrounded by more journalists than protestors. They spoke briefly with the leader of the rowdies and then left.

As anyone who has lived in DC can tell you, this is for show. This is what they always do when protest groups come to town... and Glenn Beck knows it! There are segments of these groups who like to get arrested for fundraising purposes, and the DC police come out and negotiate that so no one gets hurt. It's all for show and only those who want to get arrested. Then everyone goes home. These cops left after less than two minutes. No one fired tear gas... no one even had tear gas. Watch the video and you'll see that the cops didn't even raise their voices.

Lakey's presentation is a lie. It is the same type of lie all these guys keep inventing. They make things up to sell you the idea that they are “genuine” and everyone else is a traitor. They make things up to scare you. They play on your ignorance of the law, of the constitution, of how the government works and of world events to sell you a doomsday version of the world to outrage you. Then they feed you this line of shit that they are the only ones who can tell you the truth because everyone else is trying to suppress the truth. It is despicable.

There is no Republican plot to shutdown Levin as he argues. There is no secret informant telling Beck that the Republicans are plotting against Beck or Freedom Works as he and they claim. The media does not control the net. The media does not control Fox News. The Republicans are not in league with the Democrats. And the fringe has done more damage to the Republican brand with the public in the last few years than decades of Democratic attacks. Seriously, stop believing a word that you hear from these people.

That’s my final word on the matter. Talk radio is dead to me. It’s time to move on to something constructive. It’s time to talk about conservatism. It’s time to take an optimistic look forward, as Reagan did, and ask ourselves how we make America better and help her live up to her potential.
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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Open Thread

No commentary tonight, just some optical illusions to remind you that things are not always as they appear at first blush.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Film Friday: Phantasm (1979)

I love Phantasm. Phantasm is one of those films that somehow does it all right. Relatable characters. The mood is tense. The villain is scary. The plot is strong and original. The sets and effects are believable enough that you can suspend your disbelief without trouble. Indeed, the low budget lends a reality to this film which slicker productions typically lack.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Throwing Around The Ol' Redskin

Football is becoming increasingly....well, difficult. Fun to watch, but there are so many stories that get on one's nerves. Take the "new" controversy over the Washington Redskins.

No doubt you've heard a little about this already. For at least the second or third time, some people with nothing better to do have observed that "Redskin" is (or was) slang for Indian, and apparently this is a bad thing. So for the past few weeks, there's been a handful of very noisy activists trying to put pressure on the organization to change its name. To what, I don't know. A few years ago, a fan from West Virginia suggested they should end the controversy by re-naming themselves the Washington Rednecks, but I sense that's not in the cards. Anyway, now President Obama, whose many roles apparently include Spokesman For Any And All Even Theoretically Oppressed Minorities, has weighed in and said that if it were up to him, he would of course consider changing the name. And some sportscasters have announced that they will no longer refer to the team as the Redskins, but simply as Washington.

So far, the team's owner, Dan Snyder, has pretty much told these activists and sundry concerned people that they can suck it, noting in a letter the other day that the team has had this name for eighty years--and it was the "Braves" before that--that it's not meant to be offensive to Native Americans but rather to celebrate them, and finally, that they've gone this long without changing it and they're certainly not going to now. A handful of people in the media have declared that this position is so offensive it will inevitably trigger a backlash and a boycott, but let's face it--as long as Snyder is the owner and his determination holds up, they won't ever put the team under enough pressure to change its name.

More to the point, though--I always shake my head at stories like this, probably because it's so blasted familiar. Having spent years in the wacky circles of academia, I should point out that to the Left, it means nothing if you say your mascot is meant to invoke themes of bravery, ferocity, being a great warrior--which the Redskin mascot is obviously intended to do. To them, any representation of Indians or other minorities doesn't give them their due as individuals and Noble Oppressed People, so trying to stress their positive qualities is still an insult somehow. So, in a nutshell, that's their thinking here.

Not that it makes any more sense, of course. Because I haven't heard any of these people complaining about the name of the Minnesota Vikings. The old Scandinavian seafarers are also being stereotyped by the sports mascot, reducing them to ferocious warriors; why isn't anyone speaking on their behalf?

I'm being facetious, of course. We all know why. The Vikings are (were) white--not just white, but pure Nordic white. Therefore, they can't really be oppressed. Besides, they can't be made into objects of sympathy by activists the way Indian tribes can.

And anyway, it's not like there's an overwhelming feeling of offense from Native Americans today about the name. What polls there have been on reservations about the issue show that while a significant minority would prefer a name change, a majority are either fine with it or don't care. Some pointed out that they have bigger things to worry about, like their job, or paying their bills. Not that it would really matter if there was more negative opinion, because look--the Redskins are a private organization, and unless there's actual discrimination going on by that organization against Native Americans, there's nothing here. End of story.

Though, as someone mentioned on Twitter, a different kind of change might be in order. Perhaps Snyder should consider renaming the team the "Maryland Redskins." Now that would be much less offensive.
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