Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

Clinton gets the numbers

June 8th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Even before the results of today’s primaries come in, Hillary Clinton now has the 2,383 delegates to become the presumptive nominee. Sanders is well behind on 1,569.

So it is all on for Trump vs Clinton – the two most unpopular nominees in a generation.

Anti-Trump protesters are helping him

June 6th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

Democrats and Hispanic activists said Friday that they are increasingly alarmed by a spate of violence at Donald Trump rallies instigated by anti-Trump protesters, fearing that the incidents — widely viewed on television and social media — will only help the GOP candidate and undermine their attempts to defeat him.

They’re right. The average voter is repelled by protests than are violent. They figure that the right side to be on is the opposite side to the violent protesters.

The latest flash point came Thursday in downtown San Jose, where a demonstration outside a Trump campaign rally quickly escalated out of control. Several protesters assaulted Trump supporters, ripped pro-Trump signs away from them and stomped on vehicles in the area. A flurry of video clips circulating Friday morning showed bystanders who sustained bloody injuries.

If Trump wins, he should thank the protesters for their help.

“We wrapped up, everybody was cheering like crazy, and they walk out and they get accosted by a bunch of thugs burning the American flag,” Trump said, adding for emphasis: “And you know what? They are, they are thugs.”

Assaulting people and burning the US flag – no wonder people are worried about the impact.

Krugman on election maths

June 2nd, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Paul Krugman writes:

First, at a certain point you have to stop reporting about the race for a party’s nomination as if it’s mainly about narrative and “momentum.” That may be true at an early stage, when candidates are competing for credibility and dollars. Eventually, however, it all becomes a simple, concrete matter of delegate counts.

That’s why Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee; she locked it up over a month ago with her big Mid-Atlantic wins, leaving Bernie Sanders no way to overtake her without gigantic, implausible landslides — winning two-thirds of the vote! — in states with large nonwhite populations, which have supported Mrs. Clinton by huge margins throughout the campaign.

Yep it is Clinton vs Trump.

Second, polls can be really helpful at assessing the state of a race, but only if you fight the temptation to cherry-pick, to only cite polls telling the story you want to hear. Recent hyperventilating over the California primary is a classic example. Most polls show Mrs. Clinton with a solid lead, but one recent poll shows a very close race. So, has her lead “evaporated,” as some reports suggest? Probably not: Another poll, taken at the very same time, showed an 18-point lead.

What the polling experts keep telling us to do is rely on averages of polls rather than highlighting any one poll in particular. This does double duty: it prevents cherry-picking, and it also helps smooth out the random fluctuations that are an inherent part of polling, but can all too easily be mistaken for real movement.

Yep individual polls have a lot of fluctuation and noise. The average is far better to focus on.

Which brings us to the general election. Here’s what you should know, but may not be hearing clearly in the political reporting: Mrs. Clinton is clearly ahead, both in general election polls and in Electoral College projectionsbased on state polls.

It’s true that her lead isn’t as big as it was before Mr. Trump clinched the G.O.P. nomination, largely because Republicans have consolidated around their presumptive nominee, while many Sanders supporters are still balkingat saying that they’ll vote for her.

But that probably won’t last; many Clinton supporters said similar things about Barack Obama in 2008, but eventually rallied around the nominee. So unless Bernie Sanders refuses to concede and insinuates that the nomination was somehow stolen by the candidate who won more votes, Mrs. Clinton is a clear favorite to win the White House.

Clinton is at 66% in the prediction markets. That’s definitely a favourite but far from a certainty.

At the moment Trump looks to have 206 electoral college votes and Clinton 332. That’s the same margin as Obama beat Romney by.

North Korea endorses Trump

June 1st, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Donald Trump has won the backing of a major newspaper – in North Korea.

DPRK Today, the official state paper of Kim Jong-un’s regime, published an editorial on Tuesday calling Mr Trump a “wise politician” and “far-sighted presidential candidate”.

It was Mr Trump’s hands-off policies toward Asia that earned him the plaudits of the author, identified as a Chinese North Korean scholar named Han Yong Mook.

I think this is the first newspaper to endorse Trump, except those he owns.

Mr Trump said recently that he would be open to direct communications with Mr Kim, in a break with the long-standing policy of freezing out the country’s antagonistic regime.

He has also warned America’s Asian allies, including South Korea and Japan, that he will withdraw US troops if they do not contribute more toward the costs associated with basing them there.

The presumptive Republican nominee has more broadly advocated an “America First” foreign policy that would see the US play a less forceful role in disputes beyond its borders.

While calling on America to adopt those policies immediately, the article urges US voters not to choose Mr Trump’s “dull” rival, Hillary Clinton, in November’s election.

 So Trump has both Putin and Kim Jong-Un backing him.

US CO2 emissions keep reducing

May 31st, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Capx reports:

Carbon dioxide emissions in the United States fell again in 2015, according to new data from the federal government. Though the levels increased slightly in 2013 and 2014, last year’s drop is in line with the gradual decline that’s been occurring for a decade. The nearly 5.3 billion metric tons of energy-related carbon dioxide the country added to the atmosphere in 2015 is 12 percent smaller than that number in 2005.

And not due to recessions either:

More recently, however, the U.S. economy has continued to grow even in years that have seen decreases in emissions. In 2015 the economy was 15 percent larger than in 2005, but the country emitted 23 percent less carbon dioxide per dollar of GDP last year compared with 10 years prior.

This is the challenge – to reduce emissions without reducing GDP.

In the U.S., the decoupling of emissions from economic growth was largely a result of the boom in domestic gas production thanks to hydraulic fracturing. And while the deployment of renewable energy technologies has also increased substantially of late, burning natural gas instead of coal for electricity will likely continue to be the main contributor to emissions declines for years to come.

Yet the Greens oppose fracking despite saying reducing CO2 emissions is critical to our survival. Which is it? Can’t have it both ways.

Libertarian Party selects Johnson and Weld

May 30th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

William Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts who made a late-career leap to the Libertarian Party, won its vice presidential nomination Sunday after a close and raucous convention vote.

“This is a national ticket,” Weld said. “We can offer something meaningful and realistic to the country.”

Weld’s nomination, secured after a day of drama and in-person lobbying, gave the 45-year-old party the most electorally experienced ticket in its history. Gary Johnson, a two-term governor of New Mexico, won the party’s presidential nomination for the second time. He made two trips to the stage of the convention, held at Orlando’s Rosen Centre, to ask delegates not to write off Weld as a latecomer or interloper.

The Libertarian team have more executive experience than Clinton and Trump. They’ve both been elected and re-elected as popular Governors. Their chances are minuscule but they’re who I’d back.

More marxist professors than Republicans

May 29th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Nicholas Kristof writes in the NYT:

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

O.K., that’s a little harsh. But consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.

“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”

Sadly true.

Four studies found that the proportion of professors in the humanities who are Republicans ranges between 6 and 11 percent, and in the social sciences between 7 and 9 percent.

Conservatives can be spotted in the sciences and in economics, but they are virtually an endangered species in fields like anthropology, sociology, history and literature. One study found that only 2 percent of English professors are Republicans (although a large share are independents).

In contrast, some 18 percent of social scientists say they are Marxist. So it’s easier to find a Marxist in some disciplines than a Republican.

I wonder if the same would be true in NZ? Would there be more Marxist social science professors than say National supporting ones?

Considering around 0.5% of the population are probably Marxists and 47% voted National, wouldn’t it reveal something about our universities if it was also true here.

Can anyone think of any centre-right social science professors in NZ?

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Took the easy way out

May 29th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar


And this one is actually true.

Clinton pinged by State Department Inspector General

May 27th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

One of the two big dominoes in the Hillary Clinton email controversy toppled today:The State Department’s inspector general released its report on the email practices of Clinton and a number of other past secretaries of state. (The other major domino is, of course, the FBI investigation into Clinton’s decision to exclusively use a private email server while serving as the nation’s top diplomat.)

The report, which you can read in its entirety here, badly complicates Clinton’s past explanations about the server and whether she complied fully with the laws in place governing electronic communication. And it virtually ensures that Clinton’s email practices will be front and center in Donald Trump’s fusillade of attacks against her credibility and honesty between now and Nov. 8.

The report is quite damning in what it reveals.

Clinton used an inappropriate method of preserving her documents. Her approach would not have been approved if it had been requested by a more junior member of the State Department staff.  The report also suggests that despite a Clinton aide’s insistence that the method of preserving her emails had been submitted to a legal review back in 2010, there is no evidence that such a review took place. And, here’s the kicker: Clinton refused to sit for a formal interview.

Staff who raised the issue of Clinton’s personal server were lied to and said it had been approved by legal review, and more so were told never to raise the issue again!

Trump clinches the nomination

May 27th, 2016 at 7:17 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Donald Trump has reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for US president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the stage for a bitter autumn campaign.

Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count on Thursday (Friday NZ Time) by a small number of the party’s unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the national convention in July.

Among them is Oklahoma GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard.

“I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn’t like where our country is,” Pollard said. “I have no problem supporting Mr Trump.”

It takes 1237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump has reached 1238.

Amazing that Trump has defeated 16 candidates faster than Clinton can defeat the most left wing US Senator to get the Democratic nomination.

A reflection on Hiroshima

May 26th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

James Martin writes:

Millions of Americans have a personal or family connection to World War II. One is Salon columnistCamille Paglia who, in answering a letter from a reader in her April 21 column, mentioned her father’s service during the war, explaining how he and his Army unit, which was slated for an invasion of Japan, were “spared from certain decimation by the two atomic bombs and Japan’s surrender.”

Paglia’s father was among many thousands spared because of President Harry Truman’s decision to launch a nuclear strike against Imperial Japan. His order to attack Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, was carried out in no small part by my uncle, Maj. Tom Ferebee. He was the bombardier aboard the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb, and that in doing so, ushered in the nuclear age.

As President Obama prepares for his visit to Hiroshima May 27, I recall my uncle’s personal reflections. As the bombardier, peering through his Norden bombsight, he was the last man to see Hiroshima in any detail before it was leveled, making his perspectives on the event somewhat unique.

Definitely a unique perspective.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff estimated as many as 134,556 dead and missing Americans. A study for the office of War Secretary Henry Stimson put the figure at 400,000 to 800,000 dead GIs, with Japanese fatalities reckoned between five and 10 million military personnel and civilians. In addition to combat casualties, the more than 27,000 American POWs held by Japan were subject to immediate execution should the United States invade.

The nuclear attack on Hiroshima was terrible. All warfare is. The power unleashed by the splitting of the atom was monumental. But tragic as the bombing of Hiroshima was, it was also necessary. The alternative to Hiroshima would have been one of the bloodiest, if not the bloodiest, slaughter in human history.

An invasion of the home islands would have been terrible for everyone – military on both sides, and Japanese civilians.

No apology is necessary for sparing Japan the unspeakable horror of an invasion to end the war. No contrition is needed for an act that preserved hundreds of thousands of lives. One can thoughtfully reflect on the awful destructive power of the atomic bomb while understanding the indispensable role it played in world history. Maj. Ferebee never lost any sleep over the bombing of Hiroshima, and neither should President Obama.

Hard to disagree.

Gary Johnson at 10%

May 26th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

538 reports:

Gary Johnson might be on the verge of becoming a household name.

At the moment, he’s probably most often confused with that plumber who fixed your running toilet last month or your spouse’s weird friend from work who keeps calling the landline, but he’s neither — he’s the former governor of New Mexico, likely Libertarian candidate for president, and he’s polling at 10 percent in two recently released national polls against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

A Morning Consult survey published Tuesday and found Clinton getting 38 percent of the vote, Trump 35 and Johnson 10, with 17 percent undecided. A Fox News poll conducted from May 14-17 showed Trump leading over Clinton, 42 percent to 39 percent, but Johnson at 10 percent as well. Lest you think this is some fluky May development, a Monmouth Universitysurvey conducted in mid-March — while the political universe was still busy wringing its hands over the Republican nomination — found that in a three-way race, Clinton would get 42 percent, Trump 34 percent and Johnson 11 percent.

Johnson is who I support to be President. He was an excellent Governor of New Mexico and is the rare breed with executive experience but also stood by his principles.

It is unlikely he can win (to say the least) but if he builds up enough support, then he might be able to get into the presidential debates – and the public might like what they see.

How 538 got Trump wrong

May 25th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Nate Silver writes on how he got Donald Trump so wrong (as almost everyone did). He notes:

But it’s not how it worked for those skeptical forecasts about Trump’s chance of becoming the Republican nominee. Despite the lack of a model, we put his chances in percentage terms on a number of occasions. In order of appearance — I may be missing a couple of instances — we put them at 2 percent (in August), 5 percent (in September), 6 percent (in November), around 7 percent (in early December), and 12 percent to 13 percent (in early January).

Silver notes five things:

  1. Our early forecasts of Trump’s nomination chances weren’t based on a statistical model, which may have been most of the problem.
  2. Trump’s nomination is just one event, and that makes it hard to judge the accuracy of a probabilistic forecast.
  3. The historical evidence clearly suggested that Trump was an underdog, but the sample size probably wasn’t large enough to assign him quite so low a probability of winning.
  4. Trump’s nomination is potentially a point in favor of “polls-only” as opposed to “fundamentals” models.
  5. There’s a danger in hindsight bias, and in overcorrecting after an unexpected event such as Trump’s nomination.

The interesting thing is that if you just looked at the polls, then you should have concluded Trump would win. He basically led in every poll for six months. But everyone found reasons to argue why the polls would change. 538 for example places great store on endorsements. And endorsements have been a good predictor in previous elections, but as Silver notes the sample size of previous elections is not great.

So one lesson from this is not to ignore the polls. They’re not always right, but polls vs assumptions, polls tend to win out.

Another source of info I look to is the prediction markets. At the moment they have Clinton at 66% likely to win and Trump 32%.

Obama celebrates charter schools

May 25th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The White House announced:

Our Nation has always been guided by the belief that all young people should be free to dream as big and boldly as they want, and that with hard work and determination, they can turn their dreams into realities. Schools help us uphold this ideal by offering a place for children to grow, learn, and thrive. During National Charter Schools Week, we celebrate the role of high-quality public charter schools in helping to ensure students are prepared and able to seize their piece of the American dream, and we honor the dedicated professionals across America who make this calling their life’s work by serving in charter schools. 

Charter schools play an important role in our country’s education system. Supporting some of our Nation’s underserved communities, they can ignite imagination and nourish the minds of America’s young people while finding new ways of educating them and equipping them with the knowledge they need to succeed. With the flexibility to develop new methods for educating our youth, and to develop remedies that could help underperforming schools, these innovative and autonomous public schools often offer lessons that can be applied in other institutions of learning across our country, including in traditional public schools.

This is from a Democratic President.

Better to be poor today than 30 years ago

May 25th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar


QC report:

Income inequality in the US has increased in the last few decades, but inequality and well being are different. If everyone is living better than before, the fact that some people are much better off isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The recent inequality has been a problem because, at least in income terms, a few have prospered while most stagnated. But income does not tell us much about living standards. Anecdotally it seems like living standards increased for everyone since the 1970s. Once, hardly anyone had air-conditioning, now everyone has mobile phones. Others argue the poor are struggling like never before.

An article in the latest version of the American Economic Review finds that Americans’ consumption has become more unequal too: The amount high-earning Americans spend grew much more than that of low income earners in the last 30 years. But that does not mean low earners are worse off. The figure below shows the share of low and high earners who own goods that used to be considered luxury items. Despite more inequality, low income Americans have better access to dishwashers, laundry, and entertainment goods.

I’d argue access to goods is more important to low income households than relative inequality between deciles.


May 24th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar


Sent in by a reader.

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The king of crony capitalism

May 24th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Eric Peters writes:

If Elon Musk’s various projects are so fabulous, why do they all need government “help”?

Musk will tell you all about the virtues of his Tesla cars. They are sleek and speedy. This is true. But they are also very expensive (the least expensive model, the pending Model X, will reportedly start around $35K, about the same price as a luxury sedan like the Lexus ES350).

The real problem with Tesla cars is that no one actually buys them. Well, not directly.

Their manufacture is heavily subsidized — and their sale is heavily subsidized. Either way, the taxpayer is the one who gets the bill.

On the manufacturing end, Tesla got $1.3 billion in special “incentives” from the state of Nevada to build its battery factory there. This includes an exemption from having to pay any property taxes for the next 20 years. Another inducement was $195 million in transferable tax credits, which Tesla could sell for cash. California provides similar incentives, including $15 million to “create jobs” in the state.

Tesla does not make money by selling cars, either. It makes money by selling “carbon credits” to real car companies that make functionally and economically viable vehicles that can and do sell on the merits — but which are not “zero emissions” vehicles, as the electric Tesla is claimed to be.

Laws in nine states require each car company selling cars in the state to sell a certain number of “zero emissions” vehicles, else be fined. Since only electric cars qualify under the law as “zero emissions” vehicles — and the majority of cars made by the real car companies are not electric cars — they end up having to “purchase” these “carbon credits” from Tesla, subsidizing Tesla’s operations.

The amount Tesla has “earned” this way is in the neighborhood of $517 million.

It is estimated that Musk’s various ventures — including his new SolarCity solar panel operation and SpaceX — have cost taxpayers at least $4.9 billion, with Tesla accounting for about half of that dole.

It is outrageous that basically one person has received $4.9 billion in corporate welfare. This is an issue left wing parties should be campaigning against – but they are the biggest cheerleaders for it.

Another poll shows Trump leading

May 23rd, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

There’s been another poll out showing Trump ahead. It is of course early days, but it does show that Trump is consolidating his support.

This poll is the ABC/Washington Post poll – normally one that is highly reported.

Some interesting aspects:

  • Trump net favourability -17%
  • Clinton net favourability -16%
  • 51% say they want a third choice
  • Independents – Trump +13%
  • Moderates – Clinton +10%
  • Whites – Trump +24%
  • Non-Whites – Clinton +48%
  • Men – Trump +23%
  • Women – Clinton +14%
  • Under 40s – Clinton +8%
  • 40 to 64s – Trump +8%
  • Over 65s – Trump +3%
  • North East – Clinton +6%
  • Mid West – Clinton +4%
  • South: Trump +10%
  • West: Tie
  • Urban: Clinton +21%
  • Suburban: Trump +10%
  • Rural: Trump +35%

The three targets for Clinton to secure the nomination

May 21st, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

How Clinton gets Sanders to concede is becoming quite an issue. There are now three seperate targets being bandied about for what she needs to achieve to win. They are:

A majority of all delegates, including super delegates

This is the normal target. There are 4,763 delegates. You need 2,383 to win. Clinton has 2,293 so she needs just 90 more out of the 939 remaining. She will obviously do this. This will however not occur until June 7 as only 79 delegates come up before then.

A majority of pledged delegates

Some in the Sanders camp say that it isn’t over until someone has a majority of pledged delegates. There are 4,051 pledged delegates. A majority is 2,026. Clinton has 1,768 so she needs 258 more out of 781 remaining. That’s just 33% of remaining delegates which is easy to achieve. This will also happen on June 7 as after that only DC remains on June 14,

A majority of all delegates, but counting pledged delegates also

Again some in Sanders camps says that as super delegates may change their mind, then unless Clinton can get a majority of all delegates, just with pledged delegates, then it is a contested convention. They say until the first vote you don’t know what they’ll do.

This is nonsense as 550 senior Democrats aren’t suddenly going to renege on their written statements and suddenly vote for Sanders. But Sanders can argue it is mathematically possible so hence he won’t concede. This will put pressure on Clinton to adopt more of his policies.

So by this argument Clinton needs 2,383 to clinch it pre-convention and you can only count the 1,768 to date she has pledged. So she needs to win 615 of the remaining 781 pledged delegates. That clearly won’t happen, so if that is Sanders line, he won’t concede.

In reality it will all be over on 7th of June. It effectively is over now.


Native Americans not offended by Redskins

May 20th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

Nine in 10 Native Americans say they are not offended by the Washington Redskins name, according to a new Washington Post poll that shows how few ordinary Indians have been persuaded by a national movement to change the football team’s moniker.

This shows how a small number of politically correct activists are so out of touch with the vast majority of the people they claim to speak for.

Among the Native Americans reached over a five-month period ending in April, more than 7 in 10 said they did not feel the word “Redskin” was disrespectful to Indians. An even higher number — 8 in 10 — said they would not be offended if a non-native called them that name.


Since the nearly half-century-old debate regained national attention in 2013, opponents of the name have won a string of high-profile victories, garnering support from President Obama, 50 Democratic U.S. senators, dozens of sports broadcasters and columnists, several newspaper editorial boards (including The Post’s), a civil rights organization that works closely with the National Football League and tribal leaders throughout Indian Country.

So the political and media elites all decided what is offensive to Native Americans, without actually consulting them.

Across every demographic group, the vast majority of Native Americans say the team’s name does not offend them, including 80 percent who identify as politically liberal, 85 percent of college graduates, 90 percent of those enrolled in a tribe, 90 percent of non-football fans and 91 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 39.

That is an overwhelming result.

Meet some Sanders supporters

May 20th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

As the Nevada Democratic convention voted to award a majority of delegates to Hillary Clinton — an accurate reflection of her victory in the state’s February caucuses — Sanders backers charged the stage, threw chairs and shouted vulgar epithets at speakers. Security agents had to protect the dais and ultimately clear the room.

Sanders supporters publicized the cellphone number of the party chairwoman, Roberta Lange, resulting in thousands of abusive text messages and threats:

“Praying to God someone shoots you in the FACE and blows your democracy-stealing head off!”

“Hey bitch. . . We know where you live. Where you work. Where you eat. Where your kids go to school/grandkids. . . Prepare for hell.”

Veteran Nevada reporter Jon Ralston transcribed some of the choice voicemail messages for the chairwoman, some with vulgar labels for women and their anatomy:

“I think people like you should be hung in a public execution. . . . You are a sick, twisted piece of s— and I hope you burn for this!”

“You f—ing stupid bitch! What the hell are you doing? You’re a f—ing corrupt bitch!”

Such charming people. And these were not e-mails or Facebook rants but voice messages and text messages.

Socialism vs capitalism

May 19th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Glenn Reynolds writes:

It is a common misconception that socialism is about helping poor people. Actually, what socialism does is create poor people, and keep them poor. And that’s not by accident.

So true.

Under capitalism, rich people become powerful. But under socialism, powerful people become rich.

Also very true.

The daughter of Venezuela’s socialist ruler, Hugo Chavez, is the richest individual in Venezuela, worth billions and billions of dollars. In Cuba, Fidel Castro reportedly has lived — pretty much literally — like a king, even as his subjects dwelt in poverty. In the old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as Hedrick Smith reported in his The Russians, the Communist Party bigshots had lavish country houses and apartments in town stocked with hand-polished fresh fruit, even as the common people stood in line for hours at state-run stores in the hopes of getting staples.

Socialism means everyone but the socialist rulers are poor!

George Orwell explained the phenomenon in his Animal Farm, many decades ago. But people keep falling for it: Like Ponzi schemes, socialism is an evergreen form of fraud, egged on by suckers eager to believe the lies hucksters tell them.

Which brings me to Bernie Sanders. The Washington Post recently ran a pieceoriginally entitled “Bernie Sanders’s plans have surprisingly small benefits for America’s poorest people.” Among other things it noted that “In general, though, Sanders’s health-care plan would benefit affluent households more than it would poorer ones.”

Likewise, a paper from the left-leaning Brookings Institution notes that the biggest beneficiaries of Bernie’s free-college proposal would be rich kids:  “Under the Sanders free college proposal, families from the top half of the income distribution would receive 24% more in dollar value from eliminating tuition than students from the lower half of the income distribution.”

Labour in NZ is pushing for the same – a massive wealth transfer from taxpayers to the wealthiest people in NZ – college graduates.

If the 2016 presidential candidates were ‘Game of Thrones’ characters

May 18th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post assigns characters:

  • Donald Trump: Robert Baratheon
  • Hillary Clinton: Cersei Lannister
  • Bernie Sanders: Ellaria Sand
  • Ted Cruz: Tyrion Lannister
  • Jeb Bush: Stannis Baratheon
  • Marco Rubio: Renly Baratheon
  • John Kasich: Rickon Stark
  • Martin O’Malley: Ned Stark
  • Carly Fiorina: Margaery Tyrell
  • Ben Carson: Gregor Clegane
  • Mike Huckabee: The High Sparrow
  • Chris Christie: Jorah Mormont
  • Rand Paul: Khal Drogo
  • Rick Perry: Robb Stark
  • Lindsey Graham: Davos Seaworth
  • Scott Walker: Jon Arryn

Some of them surprise but their reasoning is pretty sound.

Who wants to be either VP?

May 17th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Politico reports:

Why would anybody want that job under Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? If either of them becomes president, we will probably see the most marginalized vice president in a generation.

VPs used to have almost no power. But Gore, Cheney and Biden have all been very influential in their respective administrations.

Trump’s contempt for rivals, critics and even allies makes LBJ’s bullying look like something out of Mr. Rogers. The video of him curtly ordering endorser Chris Christie to “get on the plane and go home” ought to be fair warning that a vice president under Trump should not expect anything better. Moreover, the idea of loyally supporting a Trump agenda poses a special challenge: That agenda is likely to be amended or abandoned on a moment’s notice. A prospective running mate, asked to declare himself or herself on Trump’s abortion, tax, health care or foreign policy positions, might be tempted to answer: “Which ones?” As for as being “the last voice” offering guidance, Trump has already told us what voice that will be.

“I’m speaking to myself,” he told Mika Brzezinski of “Morning Joe” in March, “because I have a very good brain.” His vice president, Trump suggested last week, would be a messenger boy, serving as his “legislative liaison.”

Messenger boy is about right!

The challenge is different for a prospective Clinton running mate—and one that no past veep has ever faced. Yes, past vice presidents have found themselves in a battle for the ear of POTUS with key White House aides and Cabinet members. But they’ve never had the challenge of competing with a presidential spouse who also happens to be a former two-term president. Indeed, in many ways, Bill Clinton would be a near-perfect choice to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate. His political skills are unmatched; he knows the dangers that confront any White House as no one else possibly can; he’s even got a track record of working with an opposition Congress—something that neither of his successors can match.

Yeah being VP to Hillary would not be fun either – Bill will be her principal advisor and you’d be third tier at best.

Not a statistical tie

May 17th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Politico reports:

A new poll of Georgia voters finds Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton nearly tied in a general election matchup.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll shows Trump with a 4-point lead over Clinton, 45 percent to 41 percent, which is within the poll’s 4.26 percentage point margin of error.

The sentiments expressed by independents further contribute to the statistical tie between the two presumptive nominees.

It isn’t a statistical tie. I do wish media wouldn’t use that term. It is good media point out a lead may be within a margin of error, but not good when they suggest that it is effectively a tie.

For a poll of 822 voters, the chance that Trump is actually leading is 89.2% and the chance Clinton is leading is 10.8%. This is less than the normal 95% confidence interval so Trump is not necessarily leading – but 89% probability is not a tie.

50% is a tie and 95% is statistically significant. I’m not sure what the term is for probabilities between 50% and 95% but it is not a tie – ie a 50.1% chance you are leading is not the same as a 94.95 chance you are leading.