Which Republican presidential candidate has the highest probability of winning the general election?
Rubio 45% = 25.3%/56.7%
Trump 30% = 6.8%/23%
Cruz 28% = 3.5%/12.3%
The initial 6-for-6 report, from the Des Moines Register missed a few Sanders coin-toss wins. (There were a lot of coin tosses!) The ratio of Clinton to Sanders wins was closer to 50-50, which is what we'd expect. . . .There might have been a total of 13 coin flips with Hillary Clinton winning 7 of the six.
on ABC News’ "This Week” where Trump said he agreed with Carson’s plan to replace the 50-year-old Medicare system with health savings accounts (HSA)."I’m OK with the savings accounts. I think it’s a good idea,” Trump said Sunday. “It’s a very down-the-middle idea. It works. It’s something that’s proven.”
On the question Sunday about whether he agreed with Carson’s idea that "Medicare probably won’t be necessary,” Trump said, "It’s possible. You’re going to have to look at that. But I’ll tell you what; the health savings accounts, I’ve been talking about it also. I think it’s a very good idea … it’s an idea whose probably time has come.”
"Ben [Carson] wants to knock out Medicare. I heard that over the weekend. He wants to abolish Medicare,” Trump said of Carson’s comments that Medicare “probably won’t be necessary” under his health care plan.The Washington Post has a long list of quotes from this year on Trump’s plan to defeat the Islamic State, Trump’s plan for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States,
Trump added: “Abolishing Medicare, I don't think you'll get away with that one. It's actually a program that's worked. It’s a program that some people love, actually.”
Labels: Donald Trump
"I think they're warming up. I want to be honest, I have received so many phone calls from people that you would call establishment, from people — generally speaking ... conservatives, Republicans — that want to come onto our team. . . . You know what? There's a point at which: Let's get to be a little establishment."
Labels: Donald Trump
"I think they're warming up. I want to be honest, I have received so many phone calls from people that you would call establishment, from people — generally speaking ... conservatives, Republicans — that want to come onto our team."Original: Nate Silver at 538 explains that he thinks Trump is much more likely to be the Republican nominee because the Republican establishment seems to be fine with Trump winning. From Nate's discussion:
But so far, the party isn’t doing much to stop Trump. Instead, it’s making such an effort against Cruz. Consider:
The event came hours after Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) told voters in the first state to choose presidential candidates that they shouldn’t vote for Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), one of Trump’s most potent challengers.
Branstad cited Cruz’s opposition to continuing the ethanol mandate after 2022, saying Cruz is “heavily financed by Big Oil.”
Trump welcomed Branstad’s comment.
Cruz has “been mixed in the subject, he goes wherever the votes are, so he all of the sudden went over here, and then all of the sudden, he got slapped,” Trump said. “So it’s very interesting to see.”
Trump was generally very supportive of the ethanol law, saying he is “100 percent” behind the ethanol industry, a powerful force in Iowa. . . .When Ben Carson did the economically responsible thing and challenged tax deductions in the current code, something that would challenge many vested interests, Trump attacked Carson.
Labels: Donald Trump
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders thinks that millionaires and billionaries buy elections.
He hammered away during Sunday’s Democratic debate, complaining about people “pouring unbelievable sums of money into the political process.”
According to estimates made by the Center for Responsive Politics, $3.77 billion was spent on elections for federal office during the 2014 midterms.
Sanders blames this on the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United, prohibiting the government from restricting independent political spending by unions, corporations and advocacy groups. But the growth rate in campaign spending long predates that case, and has actually slowed down since that decision.
There was only a 4 percent increase in spending from the 2010 to the 2014 midterm elections. So much for Sanders’ “explosion.”
In fact, this rate of growth was unusually small — much smaller than the 31 percent average growth that usually took place between midterm congressional elections from 1998 to 2010.
So what really causes political spending to increase over time? The answer won’t make Sanders very happy.
The truth is that government expenditures and campaign expenditures have increased in tandem. Total campaign spending soared from $1.6 billion in 1998 to $3.77 billion in 2014. Federal government spending rose at virtually the same rate, going from $1.65 trillion to $3.9 trillion.
With more at stake, it makes sense for there to be an even bigger fight over who controls the federal government. If federal spending still amounted to 2 percent to 3 percent of GDP — as it did a century ago — people likely wouldn’t care as passionately about the outcome of most elections.
In the Journal of Law and Economics in 2000, I looked at the years 1976 to 1994 and studied spending on gubernatorial and state legislative campaigns. Almost 80 percent of the increase in campaign spending could be explained by the growth of state governments. . . .The rest of the piece is available here.
Researchers at MIT have shown that by surrounding the filament [in the traditional incandescent bulb] with a special crystal structure in the glass they can bounce back the energy which is usually lost in heat, while still allowing the light through. . . .
Usually traditional light bulbs are only about five per cent efficient, with 95 per cent of the energy being lost to the atmosphere. In comparison LED or florescent bulbs manage around 14 per cent efficiency. But the scientists believe that the new bulb could reach efficiency levels of 40 per cent. . . .
But if the new bulbs live up to expectations they would cost under 50p a year to run and even improve health. . . .
I wish that I had been able to go to CNN’s town hall with President Obama. But Thursday night’s event was invitation-only.
Still, Anderson Cooper, the moderator, challenged the president a few times. But the president just made one false claim after another.
When rape survivor Kimberly Corban asked why she shouldn’t be able to carry a gun to protect herself, Obama said his current executive actions won’t make it harder for her to purchase a firearm. He claimed, he isn’t proposing anything that “prevents you or makes it harder for you to purchase a firearm if you need one.”
Obama’s proposed expanded background checks will make guns more expensive, perhaps prohibitively so for poorer people. In DC, where Obama was speaking from, expanded background checks add about $125 to the cost of transferring a gun.
After the event, CNN brought in conservative commentators such as SE Cupp. However, they failed to understand the issues here. It’s not just that the laws won’t do any good — they will also come with some real costs. These laws won’t stop mass public shootings, but they will hurt law-abiding citizens.
Then came the issue of expanded background checks leading to a national gun registry. Anderson Cooper said that people are afraid of having their guns taken away and asked, “Is it fair to call it a conspiracy?” “Yes, it is fair to call it a conspiracy,” Obama said, seemingly intimidating Cooper into dropping the subject. . . .
In response to Clinton's request for a set of since-redacted talking points, Sullivan writes, "They say they've had issues sending secure fax. They're working on it." Clinton responds "If they can't, turn into nonpaper [with] no identifying heading and send nonsecure."Ironically, an email thread from four months earlier shows Clinton saying she was "surprised" that a diplomatic oficer named John Godfrey used a personal email account to send a memo on Libya policy after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi. . . .
With tears in his eyes, President Obama pulled out all the stops in pushing his new executive orders on gun control this week. A Washington Post headline exclaimed, "President Obama’s amazingly emotional speech on gun control.” But the president also tried to appeal to people’s minds with a barrage of factual claims.
Unfortunately, the president’s remarks had a large number of errors. Here are 11 of the false or misleading claims that the president made.
1. “But we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency. It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It’s not even close.”
Last year, both France and the US had four mass public shootings. France suffered more casualties (murders and injuries) from mass public shootings in 2015 than the US has suffered during Obama’s entire presidency (532 to 396). And this occurred despite the US being five times more populous than France.
But it isn’t just the horrific year that France had last year. Far from being well below the frequency found in US, other European countries actually have a worse problem. From 2009 through December 2015, eleven European countries experienced mass public shootings at a greater frequency than did the US, after adjusting for population. These countries include Switzerland, Norway, Belgium, and the Czech Republic.
President Obama’s statement is clearly false.
2. Five years ago this week, a sitting member of Congress and 18 others were shot at, at a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona. It wasn’t the first time I had to talk to the nation in response to a mass shooting, nor would it be the last. Fort Hood. Binghamton. Aurora. Oak Creek. Newtown. The Navy Yard. Santa Barbara. Charleston. San Bernardino. . . . with common-sense gun safety measures we can reduce gun violence a whole lot more. . . . Number one, anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks, or be subject to criminal prosecutions.”
Obama claims that expanding background checks to include any private transfers of guns will reduce mass public shootings. But he offers no evidence. Not one mass public shooting during Obama’s administration would have prevented by these checks. . . .The rest of the piece is available here.
In its latest installment in a crusade to rid America of firearms, The New York Times “reports” on a “study” that purports to show how, in the first six years after Missouri “repealed the requirement for comprehensive background checks and purchase permits, the gun homicide rate was 16 percent to 18 percent higher than it was the six years before.”Oh, what an indictment, eh? Well, not exactly.The Times, which on Dec. 5 ran a front-page editorial (the first since 1920 when it took Republicans to task for nominating Warren G. Harding for president) against guns, was citing a study by Daniel Webster, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. But as gun scholar John Lott Jr., president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, pointed out for me last week, “cherry picking” results tend to give you the results you're predisposed to seek.As Mr. Lott found, in an exhaustive 2014 review of Mr. Webster's research, the results are more complicated than simply looking at what the average murder rates were before and after rescinding the Missouri law.“While it is true that the murder rate in Missouri rose (about) 17 percent relative to the rest of the United States after the law was changed, it had actually increased by 32 percent during the five years prior to the change,” Lott then wrote.Thus, the real question for researchers to consider, according to Lott, is why “the Missouri murder rate was increasing relative to the rest of the U.S. at a slower rate after the change in the law” — after the comprehensive background checks were scotched — “than it did prior to it.”But the bottom line remains this: “Imposing the law raised murder and robbery rates,” Lott told me. “Removing the law lowered them.” . . .
Labels: background checks
With about 900,000 concealed handgun permit holders in Texas, there is a good chance that someone next you in a Lone Star State grocery store or restaurant is carrying a concealed handgun. Starting Friday, Texas will join 44 other statesthat already allow people to openly carry handguns throughout the state.
Amidst today’s threats of terrorism and mass public shootings, it is a good thing when we enable people to legally carry guns and protect themselves.
Under the new law, a person will need a concealed handgun permit to be able to openly carry a gun.
If the experiences of other states are any guide, few people will actually openlycarry their handguns. Moreover, businesses can still prohibit guns or request that they be concealed. However, the Chief Financial Officer of Kroger (America’s largest supermarket chain), has just said that the company will allow open carry. He says that the company hasn’t encountered any problems with open carry. Other supermarket companies such as Whole Foods, Randall’s, and H-E-B, will be posting signs banning open carry. They will still be allowing concealed carry.
These bans may be short lived. When Texas originally passed concealed carry in 1996, many stores initially posted signs banning concealed carry. With a few years, those signs all but disappeared.
An odd nuance in Texas law has led to much national attention in the last couple of years. Before Friday, people were allowed to openly carry rifles, just not handguns. No problems ever occurred, but simply the additional handling required for carrying rifle as opposed to keeping a holstered handgun, certainly created concern that something might go wrong.
Some, such as Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown advocacy group, put pressure on companies to ban openly carried rifles.
Hillary Clinton also chimed in: “The idea that you could have an open carry permit with an AK-47 over your shoulder walking down the isles of a Supermarket is just despicable.”
Starbucks, Jack in the Box, Chipotle, Wendy's, Applebee's, Chili’s and Sonic’s all “respectfully request” that customers not openly carry guns. More importantly, however, they still allow people to carry a concealed gun. . . . .
After plunging from more than $100 a barrel to nearly $50 a barrel last year, U.S. oil prices fell 30% in 2015 to $37.04 a barrel. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 35% to $37.28 a barrel.From the UK Guardian:
Vladimir Putin goes into 2016 with record approval ratings but the shakiest economic outlook since he took charge. In the 15 years he has been at the helm, 2015 was the first year that real wages registered a decline, something that did not happen even during the 2008-09 financial crisis.
Oil and gas exports make up about half of the Russian budget, and the rouble ratehas been strongly linked to the price of oil. . . .
The [Rubble] regained some of its value by spring, but falling oil prices in autumn have caused it to fall back to lows similar to those it experienced in late 2014. . . .
Last October, Putin said that if the price of oil fell below $80 a barrel, the world economy would crash. A range of other top Russian officials made similar statements, in effect ruling out the possibility that oil could fall below $70.
Some analysts say the rouble is still overvalued, and the current oil price should theoretically push the rouble down further. This is necessary to balance the budget: the fewer dollars Russia receives for the oil it sells, the higher the exchange rate needs to be for the budget to receive the requisite amount of roubles. For the budget to balance at 65 roubles, not far off the current rate, the price of oil should be $70, a recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch report found.
For ordinary Russians, it could be a tough year ahead. Those who were used to travelling abroad have already had to scale back as the rouble made the cost of visiting foreign cities prohibitive; and rising food prices have made it harder to balance the books for many families.
The 2016 budget, fixed in October, requires oil to be at $50 in order to run a 3% deficit within “acceptable” rouble rate limits, meaning if the price does not rise soon, cuts will need to be made or reserves spent. The war in Syria is an extra cost, and the announced increases in military spending are not likely to be reversed. . . .Some other somewhat out of date data is here:
When oil prices drop, Russia suffers greatly. Oil and gas comprise over 60% of Russia's exports and make up over 30% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). The effect of the 2014 oil price collapse on Russia's economy was fast and devastating. Between June and December 2014, the Russian ruble declined in value by 59% relative to the U.S. dollar. At the beginning of 2015, Russia, along with neighboring Ukraine, had the lowest purchasing power parity (PPP) relative to the U.S. of any country in the world. A declining PPP lowers living standards, as goods purchased using the native currency become more expensive than they should be. Moreover, Russia does not receive much of an economic benefit from lower pump prices as the U.S. does, as Russians consume much less oil and gas than Americans. Less than 30% of the Russia's oil production is kept for domestic use; the rest is exported. . . .Some graphs here show how much the value of the Rubble has fallen relative to the US$ since the beginning of 2014 and 2008.
Kleck: "Lott tells another especially bizarre whopper about me: 'Gary feels very strongly that gun ownership doesn’t make people safer.' This one is especially weird because I am usually attacked by pro-control people for my research showing the defensive gun use is both frequent and effective. . . ."
Lott: Take this quote from Gary’s initial interview with Ari: “across areas, there is no effect of gun ownership rates on crime rates, including homicide rates.” And in his last posting he makes the claim: “national gun ownership rates have no net effect on national homicide rates (the position I [Kleck] endorse).” But Gary has been making this claim even more broadly for some time.
Similarly, this past summer, Gary told Mother Jones magazine: “Do I know of anybody who specifically believe with more guns there are less crimes and they’re a credible criminologist? No.” Gary is saying clearly the debate isn’t just about whether guns are increasing. He is claiming that even if gun ownership is increasing, there won’t be reduced crime.
Everyone knows of Gary’s work on guns being used defensively, but there is a contradiction here. While Gary points to guns being used defensively and those defensive uses exceed the number of times guns are used in the commission of crime, he repeatedly says that increased gun ownership doesn’t reduce crime.
I don’t understand why Gary claims that more gun ownership doesn’t mean less crime, and I have asked him about this in multiple conversations, but whenever I have asked him to explain how these different claims could be reconciled he has declined to do so.
. . . For his part, Armstrong wrote that he personally knows people who carried guns after getting their permits but not before. I do as well — in fact, I'm one of them. And a closer look at the TSA data reveals a stark pattern: More guns are being found in states with permissive concealed-carry laws, but not in states where it's hard to get a license. . . .
The places with strict laws are home to more than one-quarter of the U.S. population, but they accounted for just 8 percent of the guns TSA found, mostly in massive California. Of course, this isn't just carry laws at work — these states also have lower gun ownership and harsher penalties for people who run afoul of gun laws, even accidentally. (See New Jersey, especially, on that latter point.)
The trends are much more convincing. The stricter states accounted for 157 guns in 2012, 141 in 2013, and 165 in 2014 — a pattern consistent with randomness, with a decrease between the first two years. The states that grant permits liberally, by contrast, saw their gun count climb steadily and dramatically, from 1,334 to 1,652 to 1,945. Many of these states saw substantial increases individually as well. Texas's number rose from 292 to 417. . . .
Labels: Gary Kleck