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Topics - ksen

Obama's $400,000 Wall Street speaking fee will undermine everything he believes in

To fight the rising tide of populism, mainstream leaders need to raise their ethical game.

Former President Barack Obama's decision to accept a $400,000 fee to speak at a health care conference organized by the bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald is easily understood. That's so much cash, for so little work, that it would be extraordinarily difficult for anyone to turn it down. And the precedent established by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, to say nothing of former Federal Reserve Chairs Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan and a slew of other high-ranking former officials, is that there is nothing wrong with taking the money.

. . .

Obama should take seriously the message it sends to those young people if he decides to make a career out of buckraking. He knows that Hillary Clinton isn't popular with the youth cohort the way he is. And he knows that populists on both the left and the right want to make a sweeping ideological critique of all center-left politics, not just a narrow personal one of Clinton. Does Obama want them to win that battle and carry the day with the message that mainstream politics is just a moneymaking hustle?

Of course, it's just one speech. Nothing is irrevocable about one speech. But money doesn't get any easier to turn down with time, any more than rebuking friends and colleagues gets easier. To make his post-presidency a success, Obama should give this money to some good cause and then swear off these gigs entirely.

Even though it Matt Yglesias and Vox I think he makes a pretty good point about how cashing in big after your political career, especially if you said you were fighting inequality, just looks unseemly.

And the Obamas don't need it.  They have a great pension and have already made a lot  of money on book deals and will probably continue to make money on book deals.  So why take big corporate money for speeches?
You Are Richer than John D. Rockefeller

This Atlantic story reveals how Americans lived 100 years ago.  (HT Warren Smith)  By the standards of a middle-class American today, that lifestyle was poor, inconvenient, dreary, and dangerous.  (Only a few years later - in 1924 - the 16-year-old son of a sitting U.S. president would die of an infected blister that the boy got on his toe while playing tennis on the White House grounds.)

So here's a question that I've asked in one form or another on earlier occasions, but that is so probing that I ask it again: What is the minimum amount of money that you would demand in exchange for your going back to live even as John D. Rockefeller lived in 1916?  21.7 million 2016 dollars (which are about one million 1916 dollars)?  Would that do it?  What about a billion 2016 - or 1916 - dollars?  Would this sizable sum of dollars be enough to enable you to purchase a quantity of high-quality 1916 goods and services that would at least make you indifferent between living in 1916 America and living (on your current income) in 2016 America?

Think about it.  Hard.  Carefully.

Take that, libtards!

*drops mic*

In a new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, Peter Temin, Professor Emeritus of Economics at MIT, draws a portrait of the new reality in a way that is frighteningly, indelibly clear:  America is not one country anymore. It is becoming two, each with vastly different resources, expectations, and fates.

In one of these countries live members of what Temin calls the "FTE sector" (named for finance, technology, and electronics, the industries which largely support its growth). These are the 20 percent of Americans who enjoy college educations, have good jobs, and sleep soundly knowing that they have not only enough money to meet life's challenges, but also social networks to bolster their success. They grow up with parents who read books to them, tutors to help with homework, and plenty of stimulating things to do and places to go. They travel in planes and drive new cars. The citizens of this country see economic growth all around them and exciting possibilities for the future. They make plans, influence policies, and count themselves as lucky to be Americans.

The FTE citizens rarely visit the country where the other 80 percent of Americans live: the low-wage sector. Here, the world of possibility is shrinking, often dramatically. People are burdened with debt and anxious about their insecure jobs if they have a job at all. Many of them are getting sicker and dying younger than they used to. They get around by crumbling public transport and cars they have trouble paying for. Family life is uncertain here; people often don't partner for the long-term even when they have children. If they go to college, they finance it by going heavily into debt. They are not thinking about the future; they are focused on surviving the present. The world in which they reside is very different from the one they were taught to believe in. While members of the first country act, these people are acted upon.

so depressing . . .
UnitedHealth 1Q profit soars as ACA business shrinks

UnitedHealth's first-quarter profit soared 35 percent as the nation's biggest health insurer slashed participation in Affordable Care Act exchanges but grew just about every other part of its business.

The insurer also hiked its 2017 earnings forecast on Tuesday, and company shares started climbing shortly after it detailed results.

I mean isn't that normally the argument put forward by free marketeers?  Companies will pass on savings to their customers through efficiencies and such?

Or is it only more costs get passed on to consumers while the company keeps whatever savings they get?
A far-left politician is shaking up France's presidential race

Long stuck in fifth position, and all but completely dismissed as a contender, Melénchon was polling just around 12 percent back in early March. Then, last week, he suddenly popped way up in the polls: He's now jostling with conservative candidate Francois Fillon (who has been mired in scandal for weeks) for third place, with 19 percent of the vote.

With Emmanuel Macron, the centrist former banker, and the far-right populist Marine Le Pen both polling only a bit higher, at 22.5 and 23 percent respectively, some election watchers are now wondering if Melénchon might be poised for a stunning upset.

Unlikely as it sounds, it's certainly possible. In a post-Brexit, post-Trump era where populism is upending politics across the West, all bets are off.

Melénchon's surge is partly explained by French millennials and the French disgruntled with globalization: They like his outsider talk and his eloquent takedowns of his opponents during the two televised presidential debates.

I particularly like how they try to compare the rise of Melenchon with the rise of Trump.  I mean let's just nevermind that Trump's success was fueled mostly by xenophobia and racism while Melenchon's seems to be based on a more Sandersesque recognition of the current class war.

The writer shows his bias with:

Fears that the presidential election could come down to an unexpected run-off between the staunchly anti-EU Le Pen and the just-as-staunchly anti-EU Melénchon -- instead of between Le Pen and the centrist former banker Macron -- have caused markets to react negatively, with the euro already falling against the dollar and the yen in response.

Economists and business leaders, too, are reacting with alarm. "With the growing threat of euroskeptic parties destabilizing the eurozone's unity weighing heavily on sentiment, the euro may be in store for further punishment," Lukman Otunuga, a research analyst with FXTM, a foreign exchange brokerage firm, told ABC News last week.

Pro-EU is the "centrist" position.  Is it?  Or is it just the position accepted by the same people that brought us militant privatization, doubled-down austerity and the 2008 financial crisis?

We can't spook the upper-class with all this talk about actually doing something for the people being squeezed to death in our current system.  Why, that's reactionary!

Good luck in the elections Melenchon and god-speed.
I did some quick math to try and figure out about how much it should cost, all else being equal, to put in place medicare for all.

Currently the medicare population is about 17.25% of the US population (55 million out of 318.9 million).  Current total medicare taxes are 2.9% split evenly between employee and employer so 1.45% each.

Given that the total US population is 5.88 times the size of the medicare population then it should follow that medicare taxes should have to rise 4.7 times to cover the 80% or so of the remaining non-medicare population (5.88*80%).  Multiplying the current medicare tax rate of 2.9% by 4.7 times results in a new medicare tax rate of 13.63%.  This new rate would, theoretically, also by split 50/50 between the employee and the employer which would be 6.825% each.

Assume an employee that earns $14/hr.  Over a two-week, 80 hour, payroll period that employee grosses $1,120.  Medicare currently takes $16.24 each pay period for a combined employee/employer medicare cost of $32.48 per pay period.  Under the new rate that same employee would have medicare taxes of $76.44 take out of her paycheck.  An increase of $60.20 a pay period.  The new total combined employee/employer medicare taxes would be $152.88, which is $120.40 more than the old medicare cost.

Using my company as an example our lowest cost health insurance plan covering just the employee costs $290.70 per pay period.  Currently that $290.70 cost is split between the employee and the employer.  Under the medicare for all costs explained above that would result in a combined net savings of $170.30 per pay period or $4,427.80 annually per employee.

And that only takes into account employees that take the employee only insurance option.  Employees that take employee+ insurance options would save even more under the above medicare for all tax scheme.  Using my company again the cheapest family plan is $828.48 a pay period.  Replacing that with medicare for all would result in a combined net savings of $675.60 per pay period or $17,565.60 annually.

I know the math and assumptions above are extremely simplistic but I think it should be within the reasonable ball park.  In fact I think I may be overestimating how much medicare taxes would have to go up since the current rate is designed to cover the part of the population that is the most expensive to cover and utilizes the greatest share of our healthcare resources.

Anyone see any problem with my maths or assumptions?

So in my mind anyone that says medicare for all would be too expensive or it would kill business or just plain too hard is full of shit and either hasn't actually tried running some numbers or don't really care that the numbers would lead to a cheaper system because their objections are pure ideology.
Arts and Entertainment / Neir: Automata
Game is amazing.  OST is amazing.

My personal GOTY so far and it's only the beginning of April.

Q1 2017 was remarkably strong with releases like Horizon Zero Dawn, Nioh, Neir and Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

I hope the rest of the year is able to keep up.
In a thread over at FreeRepublic about a white guy that got beat up after offering to pay the tab at a chicken takeout place for the two guys ahead of him when they came up a couple of bucks short I'm reading non-racist gems like:

To: EinNYC

fried chicken
Didn't need to watch, I could have guessed.

The very carefully edited video gives no clues about the victim. But I'll bet my guess there is going to be a good one too. Ferals don't beat people for offering to cover their meal. They beat them for not being ferals.

8 posted on ‎3‎/‎15‎/‎2017‎ ‎11‎:‎35‎:‎48‎ ‎AM by Dr.Deth
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To: EinNYC

Just a guess but it seems like a bleeding-heart white Brooklynite got his comeuppance and learned the true nature of these inner-city animals. I'm sure he'll try to pin this on Trump somehow for inciting unrest in the ghetto.

9 posted on ‎3‎/‎15‎/‎2017‎ ‎11‎:‎36‎:‎10‎ ‎AM by NohSpinZone (First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers)
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To: Bon mots

16 posted on ‎3‎/‎15‎/‎2017‎ ‎11‎:‎45‎:‎47‎ ‎AM by Governor Dinwiddie
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To: Avalon Memories

This is what happens when crooked politicians purposely breed feral humans to create disruption in society, and to create voters who won't hold crooked politicians accountable.

31 posted on ‎3‎/‎15‎/‎2017‎ ‎12‎:‎18‎:‎47‎ ‎PM by Moonman62 (Make America Great Again!)
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To: lee martell

Screw PC. Abraham Lincoln made a disastrous mistake. He thought he was being humane. Not all cultures are equal and many are incapable within their own people. Liberalism socially re-engineers so called minorities and cultures to the point of where our country stands at this point along with the rest of western civilization.

32 posted on ‎3‎/‎15‎/‎2017‎ ‎12‎:‎18‎:‎49‎ ‎PM by shanover (...To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.-S.Adams)
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I'm gueeing this^ one means Lincoln was wrong to free the slaves?

But not all is racism . . . looks like FReeper Carlucci made a black friend.

To: EinNYC

While it's NOWHERE near the same circumstance, I had a great experience yesterday at the Houston rodeo carnival. While I was wearing my MAGA hat, we were enjoying watching people try to throw 2 out of 3 footballs through an impossibly small target that would even challenge most pros.

One very large black male kept getting really close to winning in several attempts, so I walked over to him, and gave him the coupons I had for buy one get one free games, telling him that he had a good arm and that if he should want to try again, the coupons would give him more chances to win. It felt only slightly risky. He had a group of friends with him, but it was also very crowded.

He took a look at me and then said "thank you sir" and offered me a handshake, which I gladly accepted.

33 posted on ‎3‎/‎15‎/‎2017‎ ‎12‎:‎21‎:‎21‎ ‎PM by Carlucci
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I'm glad the slight risk Carlucci took approaching a black man worked out . . . this time.

Magneto is a Jewish Holocaust survivor. But Marvel might be making him allies with Hydra, an organization with Nazi roots.

In the eyes of its most fervent fans, Marvel has assassinated Magneto, arguably the most beloved villain the comic book company has ever created. And they did it with just one cover.

This past week, Marvel revealed variant covers to its upcoming crossover event "Secret Empire," an event in which Steve Rogers's allegiance to the Hydra criminal organization will be revealed. Magneto appears on one of those covers, suggesting he's been in clandestine cahoots with Rogers and Hydra. And being that Hydra is an organization with comic book roots in Nazi Germany, the cover links Magneto, a Jewish Holocaust survivor, to Nazis by way of Hydra.

Welp, didn't see that coming.

Fans are upset.

Huh, you don't say?
Politics and Current Events / A Day without Women
I don't know why conservative men are so upset by this.  I mean isn't every day a day without women for them?

Politics and Current Events / 1980 strikes again
Every fucking time when something goes to shit you'll invariably see a graph and it started to go to shit in 1980.


It's no secret I thought Hillary ran a bad campaign but this does surprise me.

Hillary Clinton's campaign ran TV ads that had less to do with policy than any other presidential candidate in the past four presidential races, according to a new study published on Monday by the Wesleyan Media Project.

Clinton's team spent a whopping $1 billion on the election in all -- about twice what Donald Trump's campaign spent. Clinton spent $72 million on television ads in the final weeks alone.

But only 25 percent of advertising supporting her campaign went after Trump on policy grounds, the researchers found. By comparison, every other presidential candidate going back to at least 2000 devoted more than 40 percent of his or her advertising to policy-based attacks. None spent nearly as much time going after an opponent's personality as Clinton's ads did.

In stark contrast to any prior presidential cycle for which we have Kantar Media/CMAG data, the Clinton campaign overwhelmingly chose to focus on Trump's personality and fitness for office (in a sense, doubling down on the news media's focus), leaving very little room for discussion in advertising of the reasons why Clinton herself was the better choice.

Trump, on the other hand, provided explicit policy-based contrasts, highlighting his strengths and Clinton's weaknesses, a strategy that research suggests voters find helpful in decision-making. These strategic differences may have meant that Clinton was more prone to voter backlash and did nothing to overcome the media's lack of focus on Clinton's policy knowledge, especially for residents of Michigan and Wisconsin, in particular, who were receiving policy-based (and specifically economically-focused) messaging from Trump.
Politics and Current Events / Vault 7 thread
I guess this is going to be a thing.

Politics and Current Events / Et tu, Nobel?
What the Nobel Prize winner in economics has in common with Donald Trump

Angus Deaton, the Princeton professor who won the Nobel Prize in economics last year, was focused on the plight of the white working class long before President Trump's election catapulted their concerns into national politics. Together with Princeton University professor Anne Case, who is also his wife, Deaton has documented a shocking rise in mortality among less-educated, middle-aged whites, due to what the pair call "deaths of despair" - drug overdoses, alcoholic liver disease and suicide.

I understand that this is a thing but is it really worthy of a Nobel prize?
Arts and Entertainment / Callout: Bilirubin
I made an Alpha clone in Eve.

I had a character years ago but I don't have access to the email I used to make that account.  I don't know if I'd even want to go back to that character even though I have a lot of time invested in skills.  It was a Gallente specced to fly Caldari ships for whatever reason.

I chose to roll with Amarr because I wanted beam weapons and I figure New Eden could always use a good cleansing with Holy Fire every now and then.
Can the Democratic Party Win Back Voters It Lost to Trump?

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who is up for reelection in the red state of Missouri in 2018, recently told a St. Louis radio host she may face a primary challenge. "I may have a primary because there is, in our party now, some of the same kind of enthusiasm at the base that the Republican Party had with the Tea Party," she said during an interview earlier this month. "Many of those people are very impatient with me because they don't think I'm pure," she added.

BOTH SIDES!!! :whyyou:

The last time the country faced such threats, after the rise of the plutocrats in the early decades of the 20th century, it was the Democrats who spoke directly to the fears of the citizenry. Consider Franklin Roosevelt's words in 1938. "The liberty of a democracy is not safe," he said, "if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism--ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. ... Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing."

The age of true American liberty--in which it is the people who rule both the government and the economy--lies in the muck. But there is a political party with a history of fighting to make it a reality.

Concentration of corporate power is obviously a huge problem in the world today.  Unfortunately instead of blocking this concentration politicians are feeding off of it.
"The capitalist is concerned only with mutually beneficial exchanges and private property rights." :rofl:

Someone actually wrote that with a straight face.

1: Capitalists don't give a shit about "mutually benefiical" exchanges.  They care only about their benefit in an exchange.  I vividly remember in college my Econ 101 professor telling us to memorize the following: "As each of us selfishly pursue our own self-interests the best interests of society are served."  That doesn't sound like caring about "mutually beneficial" anything.

2: I'll give them that Capitalists care a lot about property rights.  But it's their own property rights not anyone else's.
Computers and Technology / Callout: computer nerds
Why is a wifi signal limited to about 50Mbps?  Or is it and I've just been sold a bill of goods?
Thought we could use a separate thread for alt-right talk that doesn't necessarily involve Trump.

Topic 1:  Is Pewdiepie a pro-Hitler alt-righter?  The Wall Street Journal seems to think so.

Topic 2:  Is the alt-right basically what the MRA morphed into?

Topic 3:  How do we save Pepe?  This probably should have been number 1.
A Political Opening for Universal Health Care?

Although Bohon--a self-identified Hillary Clinton voter--and Sanders certainly represent liberal sensibilities, several polls show that universal coverage is gaining traction among Democratic and Republican voters. A January Pew Research Center survey showed that 60 percent of Americans believe that government "should be responsible for ensuring health-care coverage for all Americans"--the highest mark in nearly a decade--though they are divided on whether government should be the sole provider of insurance. The recent increases nationally in support for universal coverage are mostly attributable to low-income Republicans. Over half of all Republicans surveyed who have family incomes of less than $30,000 agreed with the idea. Twenty-eight percent of all people polled in a recent Gallup survey expressed support for a single-payer system run by the government.

Wouldn't it be ironic if out of the ashes of a Trump presidency we actually got a UHC/Medicare-for-all type program enacted?
Politics and Current Events / Brexit is go for launch

Remainers had hoped it would be the night when they finally made a dent in Theresa May's Brexit plans as they put forward a bewildering array of new clauses and amendments to the Article 50 bill.

Nine proposals in all, ranging from the rights of EU migrants to the opinions of the Gibraltar Government, were put to the vote, and one by one all nine proposals were thrown out by MPs.

It was a flawless night for Theresa May, as the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill was passed by 494 votes to 122 in its original, unamended form.

Good luck and godspeed my little brexiteers.
Politics and Current Events / How to stop an autocracy

The danger isn't that Trump will build an autocracy. It's that congressional Republicans will let him.

There is nothing about the Trump administration that should threaten America's system of government. The Founding Fathers were realistic about the presence and popularity of demagogues. The tendency of political systems to slip into autocracy weighed heavily on their minds. That power corrupts, and that power can be leveraged to amass more power, was a familiar idea. The political system the founders built is designed to withstand these pressures, and to a large extent, it has.

So why, then, are we surrounded by articles worrying over America's descent into fascism or autocracy? There are two reasons, and Trump is, by far, the less dangerous of them.

Even though it's Vox I thought the article made a lot sense saying that the Constitution was written to protect us against a strongman president.  It was thought about a lot and the government was designed to deal with it.

The conclusion?

But for now, the crucial question -- the question on which much of American democracy hinges -- is not what Trump does. It is what Congress does. The danger posed by Trump is one that America's political system is built to protect against. But the officials charged with its protection need to take their role seriously.

In the end, it is as simple as this: The way to stop an autocracy is to have Congress do its damn job.

We're fucked.

The argument:

The lawsuit, filed by 11 patients in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, focuses on a common practice in the pharmaceutical industry: Drug companies compete for insurers' business by offering secret rebates on their drugs. Companies that negotiate drug prices for insurers, called pharmacy benefit managers, can place drugs on tiers that determine how much consumers pay for them -- decisions that may be influenced by the size of the discount granted by the drug companies.

The lawsuit claims that drug companies have been increasing the list price of insulin in order to expand their discounts without lowering the overall price tag. The people stuck paying the balance: patients, particularly those without insurance or with high-deductible plans.  The lawsuit alleges those actions violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and state consumer protection laws.

The response:

Insulin companies acknowledge that list prices have risen but argue that net prices -- the amount drug companies pay after rebates -- haven't budged.

Eli Lilly "conducts business in a manner that ensures compliance with all applicable laws, and we adhere to the highest ethical standards," spokesman Greg Kueterman said in an email, declining to comment further.

A spokeswoman for Sanofi said that the company believes the allegations have no merit and will defend against them.

Novo Nordisk spokesman Ken Inchausti said in an email: "We are aware of the complaint and its characterization of the pharmaceutical supply chain. We disagree with the allegations made against the company and are prepared to vigorously defend the company in this matter."

Uh, isn't that acknowledgment admitting the charge being leveled at them?

Ana Maria has never been to Machu Picchu. The 61-year-old always wanted to visit the mountain ruins but she suffers from hypertension, and doctors warned that the extreme altitude could cause her blood pressure to rise dangerously high. Today, dressed in a white gown and hairnet, she will explore its ancient walls and pyramids for the first time.

She's in a private medical clinic in Mexico City, and laughs nervously as she's wheeled into a windowless operating room. The surgeon takes a Sharpie and draws a large circle on her left thigh, paints on several layers of iodine, then injects a local anesthetic into the skin. Inside the circle is a fatty lump, a lipoma around six centimeters across, which he is about to remove.

Ana will be awake for the operation, and she's feeling scared. As the surgeon readies his scalpel, her blood pressure is 183/93, even higher than usual. Patients undergoing procedures like this often have to be sedated to cope with the pain and anxiety of being under the knife, but not today. Instead, José Luis Mosso Vazquez, who is supervising the operation, fits a sleek, black headset over Anna's eyes and adjusts the Velcro straps.

The surgeon makes his first cut and the blood spills in a crimson stream down Ana's leg. She's surrounded by medical equipment--stools, trolleys, swabs, syringes, with super bright surgical lamps suspended above the bed and her vital signs displayed on monitors just behind. But Ana is oblivious. She's immersed in a three-dimensional re-creation of Machu Picchu. She begins her journey with a breathtaking aerial view of the ancient city clinging to the mountainside, before swooping down to explore the details of stepped terraces, moss-covered walls and tiny stone huts.

Mosso watches her carefully. A 54-year-old surgeon at Panamerican University in Mexico City, he's on a mission to bring virtual reality into the operating room, using the high-tech distraction technique to carry out surgeries that would normally require powerful painkillers and sedatives, with nothing more than local anesthetic. He's trying to prove that reducing drug doses in this way not only slashes costs for Mexico's cash-strapped hospitals, but cuts complications and recovery times for patients, too.

But today, he's not sure if his headset is going to be enough. He hopes the virtual reality will help Ana to avoid unnecessary medication, but if she becomes anxious during the surgery, her already-high vital signs might spike. He has prepared an intravenous line, ready to administer emergency medication if required.

The surgeon pulls a large, pearly glob of tissue from Ana's thigh, his fingers easing under her skin as he carefully snips it free. Then he mops the blood and stitches the wound. The procedure has taken just 20 minutes, and there are smiles all round as Ana thanks the team. Because of the virtual reality, she says, she barely noticed the scalpel slicing her flesh: "I was transported. Normally I'm very stressed, but now I feel so, so relaxed."

The monitors back up her story. Throughout the surgery, her blood pressure actually fell.

This is kind of cool.

Just hope if this gets widely adopted that some doctor doesn't accidently load up a copy of Resident Evil 7 or something.