blueollie

Unfortunately this works both ways:

Paul Krugman on conservatives who aren’t facing the fact that the Affordable Care Act is NOT a disaster:

Over at Talking Points Memo, they seem bemused by the violent reaction on the right to any suggestion that Obamacare is working as well as all the evidence suggests it is. Josh Marshall and Ezra Klein both made a fairly obvious point: Kathleen Sebelius’s resignation was almost surely timed to follow good news, so that her departure wouldn’t be easy to spin as part of a narrative about failed reform. The right, however, went ballistic — not so much expressing skepticism over the good enrollment numbers and the encouraging survey data as expressing total outrage and bewilderment that anyone believes the good news. On the right they know, just know, that it’s a total disaster.

What’s interesting about this is that conservative health wonks, however much they may like to spin facts, know better: even on the right, everyone who knows anything about the subject has been telling people not to expect a collapse, a death spiral, whatever, and even suggesting that Republicans may need to accept that much of Obamacare is irreversible. But not many people in that camp read, say, Avik Roy; they’re getting their information from Fox News and Rush, and they hear nothing but tales of disaster.

Krugman goes on to point out that these sort of sources (Fox News, Limbaugh, etc.) are constantly wrong. Consider the 2012 election predictions!

So why do such “sources” continue to carry any credibility with…..anyone?

Krugman conjectures:

Well, we basically know the answer. One thing I learned from reporting on the Madoff affair was the term “affinity fraud”: people are easily duped by con men who seem to be like them, to be their kind of people. What Fox, Rush etc. do is build a cultural and emotional bond with their audiences, based mainly on who they dislike and attack. And that bond induces those audiences to believe that what comes from these sources is the obvious truth, never mind what those arrogant elitists with their “facts” and “data” may be saying. (I’m turning into Stephen Colbert as we speak.)

However, there is some caution for liberals too.

All too often, people fall into “ok, I am a XXX and what does a good XXX believe” mode. You see this in the discussions over GMOs.

You sometimes see this on the 77 cents on the dollar theme.

Bottom line: people want to be accepted by their peers and sometimes people are afraid to stray from what they think that the partisan line is, regardless of what science or the spreadsheets say.

April 12, 2014 Posted by | political/social, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Fox News conservatives: please make up your mind…

So, Putin acting like a tyrant: good, much better than Obama.

But you complain that “Obama is a tyrant”?

It is hard to take these people seriously.

March 15, 2014 Posted by | Barack Obama, political humor, political/social, politics/social, republicans | Leave a comment

Presidents and “dignity”: remember GW Bush and Misty May?

To those complaining about President Obama appearing on a comedy show:

Really?
dignifiedGWB

Here is a clip of past Presidents appearing on comedy shows.

March 15, 2014 Posted by | Barack Obama, political/social, politics/social, republicans | | Leave a comment

IL-Governor’s race (primary)

We have a primary election in 6 days; there isn’t much happening on the Democratic side so, as is allowed in Illinois, I might take a Republican ballot.

So, our Republicans have a 4 way race going on to see who will get the honor of losing to Gov. Pat Quinn in November.

Here is the state of the race as of last weekend:

The Illinois Republican governor’s race is tightening, with Bruce Rauner leading and Kirk Dillard surging as the candidates head into the final days of the campaign trying to peel away support from rivals and recruit undecided voters into their camp.

A new Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows Rauner, the wealthy first-time candidate from Winnetka at 36 percent support — down 4 percentage points from a month ago amid a blitz of labor union-backed TV ads attacking his business dealings as a venture capitalist.

But Dillard, a state senator from Hinsdale with the backing of major public employee unions, has emerged as the new chief alternative to Rauner. The poll showed Dillard at 23 percent, doubling his support since last month, especially among Downstate voters.

Dillard’s gains came as state Sen. Bill Brady and Treasurer Dan Rutherford lost support in recent weeks. Brady was at 18 percent, down from 20 percent in early February. Rutherford, who was hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit by a former employee last month, was at 9 percent — a 4-percentage-point drop from the last poll.

Note: in a previous debate, Rutherford sounded the best to me but Republican moderates usually don’t do so well with the Republican base. Brady lost a hotly contested race against Gov. Quinn in the previous election (2010).

The nature of the attacks on Rauner are interesting. One PAC (Illinois Freedom) is going after him. They are attacking his nursing home related businesses:

Via Illinois Freedom:

Hasn’t Bruce Rauner’s business done enough damage? Check the facts:

From 1981-2012, Rauner Has Served As Managing Director, Senior Principal, And Chairman Of GTCR [Bloomberg Profile]

2004: Trans HealthCare Press Release Identified TransHealthcare As “A GTCR Portfolio Company.” [Trans HealthCare Press Release, 6/2/04]
GTCR Co-Founded Trans Healthcare Inc. In 1998. [GTCR Press Release, 12/5/2002]

2013: A Florida Man Was Awarded A Verdict Of $1.2 Billion In A Suit Against Trans Health After His Mother, Arlene Townsend, Died In The Nursing Home. [Christian Post, 7/24/13]
Attorneys Presented Evidence That Townsend Suffered 18 Falls In Her 6 Years At The Home- Suffering A Broken Hip That Went Undiagnosed For A Week As Well As Severe Infections, Chronic Stomach Pains With Fecal Impaction, Skin Tears, Malnutrition And Dehydration Before Dying At The Age Of 69. [WTSP, 7/25/13]

2012: Jury Awarded $200 Million To Family Of Elvira Nunziata Who Fell Down A Flight Of Stairs In Her Wheelchair And Died At A Home Managed By Trans Health—No One Noticed Her Absence For An Hour And She Died Shortly After Paramedics Arrived. [Tampa Bay Times, 1/13/12]

2010: A Jury Awarded A $114 Million Dollar Verdict To The Family Of Juanita Jackson Who Died After Staying At A Nursing Home Managed By Trans Health Care; The Woman “Was Hurt After Falling Down And Received Other Injuries From Pressure Sores, Overmedication, Malnourishment, And Dehydration.” [The Ledger (Lakeland, FL), 7/21/10]

2010: A Widow Was Awarded A $900 Million Verdict Against Trans Health Care After Her Husband Joseph Webb “Suffered Pressure Sores And Infections That Required Surgeries, Including An Above-The-Knee Amputation Of His Right Leg.” [Gainesville Sun, 2/12/10]

They also go after him by “guilt by association” attacks:

The Dillard campaign is also attacking him….for being….too rich and not caring about the poor? (remember: this is a REPUBLICAN primary)

He is too rich to understand us? (remember: this is a REPUBLICAN primary)

This ad: probably more effective, as it links him with Democrats and influence peddling:

March 12, 2014 Posted by | Illinois, political/social, politics, republicans, republicans politics | , , | Leave a comment

Talking past each other: Rep. Ryan’s CPAC remarks

Ok, his story was about historically true as his marathon time. :-)

But the idea is this: conservatives of this type don’t see the lacking in poverty to be a genuine, material lacking (e. g. REALLY not having enough to eat). They see it was a type of “spiritual poverty”: that is, had the poor did “the right things” to begin with, they wouldn’t be poor.

I won’t deny that many HAVE made terrible choices but statistically speaking, many are lacking the material basics from which to build a better life from. It isn’t “just attitude”. Paul Krugman talks about that here.

And please, dispense with this “Rep. Ryan is a smart, principled” conservative stuff.

Instead, he is a Sarah Palin who knows how to use powerpoint. His articles might cite actual research papers, but that doesn’t mean that he understands what he cites.

March 8, 2014 Posted by | political/social, politics, republicans, republicans politics | , | Leave a comment

Once again, all over the place: videos, denial, mammograms

Workout notes Treadmill: 6 mile run in 1:02:50. Started off at 11:0x mpm and did 2 minutes each in the following pattern: 0-.5-1-1.5-2 then 10:42 (same pattern) then 10:31 for most of the rest: 0-.5-1-1.5-2-2-1.5-1-.5-0 then 5 minutes each at 2-1.5-1 then I finished the rest at .5, increasing the pace each minute.

Then 2 miles (16 laps of lane 3) of walking in 29:37 (14:23 for the last mile).

What I’ve noticed: while my legs aren’t classically “dead”, it is almost as if someone sucked out my quad muscles with a straw. They are, well, not doing a thing.

Posts
Physical Stuff

Since we are talking gym: this “gym stereotype” clip is funny. I am the old man in the locker room; I suppose that comes from the fact that many of us don’t look at others…so what is the fuss? It just doesn’t register any more.

Now for some physical craziness. Yes, the law-and-order person in me wondered if these people had the proper permissions to do this. But, well, the video is rather incredible. Physically, these guys are much of what I am not.

Science
Evidence based medicine and science is hard. We create models and then go with our best educated guess…and sometimes it takes years to gather data. Here is a vast study about mammograms and their effectiveness:

One of the largest and most meticulous studies of mammography ever done, involving 90,000 women and lasting a quarter-century, has added powerful new doubts about the value of the screening test for women of any age.

It found that the death rates from breast cancer and from all causes were the same in women who got mammograms and those who did not. And the screening had harms: One in five cancers found with mammography and treated was not a threat to the woman’s health and did not need treatment such as chemotherapy, surgery or radiation.

The study, published Tuesday in The British Medical Journal, is one of the few rigorous evaluations of mammograms conducted in the modern era of more effective breast cancer treatments. It randomly assigned Canadian women to have regular mammograms and breast exams by trained nurses or to have breast exams alone.

Researchers sought to determine whether there was any advantage to finding breast cancers when they were too small to feel. The answer is no, the researchers report.

Unfortunately, this study will probably be pillared by those whose lives were saved, so they think, by mammograms. Remember: this is NOT a study about regular breast exams; it is about mammograms which are supposed to catch the cancer at the early stages.

So, someone who had a genuine harmful cancer detected by a mammogram and was saved may have well be saved by a later detection via a conventional exam.

I suggest reading the whole article; much of the data that shows “x out of 1000 were saved by mammograms” came out before the newer drugs came out.

I don’t know what to think because this isn’t my field of expertise. But it is interesting, to say the least. I just hope that science and statistics determines the best policy and not emotion.

Now about statistics and onto politics: remember the morons and their “unskewed Presidential race polls”? Well, these people haven’t learned a thing; they are refusing to believe the current data about the Affordable Care Act.

I suppose that instead of breaking people down by “conservative/liberal”, we should break them down by “convinced by evidence/not convinced by evidence”.

Social Views Did you know that people who won lotteries changed their economic views in the conservative direction? Now there are some caveats in this study (e. g. people who are likely to play a lottery might have a different mentality that those who don’t; and yes, the lottery really is a tax on those who can’t do math). But Paul Krugman has a ton of fun with this finding.

February 14, 2014 Posted by | health, health care, political/social, politics, republicans, republicans politics, running, statistics, superstition, walking | Leave a comment

Facts and the Republicans

Oh noes! President Obama issued…gasp…executive orders! And…

executiveordersbypresident

But you’d never know this if you listened to Fox News.

Oh, the Republicans lie about the CBO report about Obamacare too. Sure, fewer people choosing to work has some impact, but it is minimal. So, no, the Affordable Care Act won’t cut millions of jobs.

But not funding the extra unemployment might well have a negative impact:

First, it’s still at near-record levels. Historically, the long-term unemployed — those out of work for 27 weeks or more — have usually been between 10 and 20 percent of total unemployment. Today the number is 35.8 percent. Yet extended unemployment benefits, which went into effect in 2008, have now been allowed to lapse. As a result, few of the long-term unemployed are receiving any kind of support.

Second, if you think the typical long-term unemployed American is one of Those People — nonwhite, poorly educated, etc. — you’re wrong, according to research by the Urban Institute’s Josh Mitchell. Half of the long-term unemployed are non-Hispanic whites. College graduates are less likely to lose their jobs than workers with less education, but once they do they are actually a bit more likely than others to join the ranks of the long-term unemployed. And workers over 45 are especially likely to spend a long time unemployed.

Third, in a weak job market long-term unemployment tends to be self-perpetuating, because employers in effect discriminate against the jobless. Many people have suspected that this was the case, and last year Rand Ghayad of Northeastern University provided a dramatic confirmation. He sent out thousands of fictitious résumés in response to job ads, and found that potential employers were drastically less likely to respond if the fictitious applicant had been out of work more than six months, even if he or she was better qualified than other applicants.

What all of this suggests is that the long-term unemployed are mainly victims of circumstances — ordinary American workers who had the bad luck to lose their jobs (which can happen to anyone) at a time of extraordinary labor market weakness, with three times as many people seeking jobs as there are job openings. Once that happened, the very fact of their unemployment made it very hard to find a new job.

So how can politicians justify cutting off modest financial aid to their unlucky fellow citizens?

Some Republicans justified last week’s filibuster with the tired old argument that we can’t afford to increase the deficit. Actually, Democrats paired the benefits extension with measures to increase tax receipts. But in any case this is a bizarre objection at a time when federal deficits are not just falling, but clearly falling too fast, holding back economic recovery.

For the most part, however, Republicans justify refusal to help the unemployed by asserting that we have so much long-term unemployment because people aren’t trying hard enough to find jobs, and that extended benefits are part of the reason for that lack of effort.

But, ironically, this won’t hurt them at the polls, at least too much as the mainstream Republicans will be mostly challenged from the RIGHT in primaries. Good…let the primary voters nominate kookier and kookier candidates.

February 11, 2014 Posted by | 2014 midterm, economics, economy, political/social, republicans political/social, republicans politics | Leave a comment

If you want to know why many Republican Representatives are such kooks…

Just look at who they represent:

This Horsey cartoon really isn’t much of an exaggeration, at all.

Screen shot 2013-10-12 at 3.37.51 PM

Remember that sitting GOP representatives are usually safe in the general election; their main worry is a challenge from the right in the GOP primary.

February 3, 2014 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans political/social | Leave a comment

Snow and snowjobs

This is an interesting piece about the recent cold spell in the United States. The title is that Americans are “weather wimps”. I don’t know about that, but I know that *I* certainly am! I hate all things cold, snow and icy. But there is an interesting take away:

As the world warms, the United States is getting fewer bitter cold spells like the one that gripped much of the nation this week. So when a deep freeze strikes, scientists say, it seems more unprecedented than it really is. An Associated Press analysis of the daily national winter temperature shows that cold extremes have happened about once every four years since 1900.

Until recently.

When computer models estimated that the national average daily temperature for the Lower 48 states dropped to 17.9 degrees on Monday, it was the first deep freeze of that magnitude in 17 years, according to Greg Carbin, warning meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

That stretch — from Jan. 13, 1997 to Monday — is by far the longest the U.S. has gone without the national average plunging below 18 degrees, according to a database of daytime winter temperatures starting in January 1900.

In the past 115 years, there have been 58 days when the national average temperature dropped below 18. Carbin said those occurrences often happen in periods that last several days so it makes more sense to talk about cold outbreaks instead of cold days. There have been 27 distinct cold snaps.

Between 1970 and 1989, a dozen such events occurred, but there were only two in the 1990s and then none until Monday.

“These types of events have actually become more infrequent than they were in the past,” said Carbin, who works at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. “This is why there was such a big buzz because people have such short memories.”

Now I am not quite through with this yet. If one models “cold snaps” as a type of Poisson process with a mean of 1 every 4 years, then the probability of having 1 event (or less) in 16 years is about 9 percent. (I used a Poisson calculator with a mean of “4 in a 16 year period” as the mean). That is not really statistically significant (in proving that climate change or some other change has occurred) but it isn’t surprising either.

Snow jobs
Gov. Christ Christie is getting blasted in the media:

governortubbo

Rachel Maddow, and the comedians Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert are having field days.

Some might say “that is just hardball politics” but to me this is a gross abuse of power. Though I thought that Gov. Christie’s apology sounded sincere, others (my wife included) didn’t buy it.

Now as far as Gov. Christie being a bully: sure, some might find his surly manner and the fact that he tells idiots that they are idiots is bullying; I don’t. I don’t think that is good politics though; IMHO part of the job of politicians is to put up with the morons who are so sure that they know all the details and know what is what. One has to suffer fools well. If you can’t do that, become a specialist where one mostly deals with smart people.

But Gov. Christie does have a record of, well, shall we say, actions that sure look like bullying and retribution.

Some might say that he is finished. I don’t. I say that he was never viable to begin with; he is too high tempered and too thin skinned to last long in a national campaign. Seriously: it doesn’t look good for a morbidly obese politician to walk with an ice cream cone while yelling at a constituent.

January 10, 2014 Posted by | climate change, political/social, politics, republicans, science | , , , | Leave a comment

Chris Christie’s apology

While I was waiting for my car, I saw most of a press conference called by Governor Chis Christie (R-NJ).

Evidently his aids directed some lane closures on a bridge that lead to a city whose Democratic mayor refused to endorse Gov. Christie.

So Gov. Christie gave an apology (not a “mistakes were made” and “I am sorry if that bothered you”) and ….ok, flame me….but I think that it came across well. Here is part of it:

“I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team,” Christie said. “I am who I am, but I am not a bully.”

At the news conference, Christie referred to the lane closings as a “rogue political operation.”

“I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here,” Christie said. “This was handled in a callous and indifferent way, and this is not the way this administration has conducted itself over the last four years.”

Christie took reporters’ questions at the packed news conference at his office that lasted just short of two hours.

He appeared contrite, describing himself repeatedly as heartbroken and apologizing to the public, and even to the media, several times.

I still think that he is too thin skinned to be a national caliber politician; part of being, say, a presidential candidate is controlling your temper around the idiots.

He fired those responsible.

January 9, 2014 Posted by | political/social, politics, Republican, republicans | | 3 Comments

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