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What’s the matter with Silver?

[ 144 ] October 28, 2016 |


I think it’s fair to say that right now the consensus among elite observers across the ideological spectrum (meaning Party Decides types, mainstream media fixtures, blogosphere authority figures etc. ) is that the presidential race is over because Donald Trump has no chance of winning — or rather his chances of winning are so slim that they can be treated as functionally zero for all practical purposes.

To put it another way, if Trump were to emerge the winner on the morning of November 9th, this would come, from the perspective of the present moment, as an almost indescribable shock to said elites.

Which raises this question: why do the instruments (in the form of various predictive mechanisms) not agree? For example, Nate Silver’s methodology still gives Trump a nearly one in five chance of winning. The betting markets, in which people put their money where there the mouths are, aren’t as bullish, but they still give Trump a one in ten chance. I don’t know about you, but if I thought Trump actually had a one in ten chance of getting sworn in next January (assuming he wouldn’t insist on holding the ceremony immediately after the popular vote) I’d be kind of terrified.

Now I’ve been worried about Trump’s chances for a lot longer than most people, but, psychologically at least, I’m not worried at all at the moment, because I’m part of the come on there’s no way crowd that’s dominating the psychology and framing of the race at the moment. Which kind of worries me when I think about it.

So what’s going on? Are the various predictive mechanisms flawed? Or does Trump still have a very real chance, i.e., not a although Jacksonville is not yet mathematically eliminated from winning the Super Bowl this year but come on we all know they’re not going to chance?


National Chocolate Day

[ 18 ] October 28, 2016 |


Evidently, it is National Chocolate Day. So this is a good time to remember that your beloved chocolate is produced by children working in horrific conditions and that if you want to enjoy your desserts, maybe you should do something about it.

But what you may not love, or even be aware of, is the reality of what it takes to get our delicious cocoa to market. As is the case with most agricultural commodities, in the cocoa industry it’s the people on the front lines of the supply chain — the farmers — who get the least return. Cocoa farmers in West Africa, where 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from, can earn as little as $0.25-$0.50 a day, and are stuck in deep cycles of poverty.

The systemically low prices in cocoa have drastic consequences for farmers and their families. More than 2 million children in the Ivory Coast and Ghana are being deprived of their childhoods, either working in extremely hazardous conditions or working in lieu of going to school, so that we can get our chocolate fix. And even as demand for cocoa increases, as it has over the last five years, dependence on child labor has shown little sign of improving. In fact, according to a study conducted by Tulane University, the number of children involved in hazardous work in cocoa increased by 46% in the Ivory Coast between 2009 and 2014.

Why Does Child Labor Happen?

Child labor doesn’t happen because cocoa farmers don’t want a bright future for their kids. More often than not it’s simply a means of survival.

Three main factors contribute to the prevalence of child labor in the West African cocoa industry:

Poverty – Farmers don’t make enough to support their business. Cocoa prices are low, yields are low, and farmers are unable to pay for adult laborers, thus leaving them with no choice but to use their children as labor.

Limited Access to Education – There is a dramatic shortage of schools and teachers in West Africa. Even where schools exist, many families can’t afford necessary school-related expenses such as tuition, uniforms, and books.

Lack of Enforcement – While there are laws prohibiting child labor in West Africa, the extreme prevalence of child labor, combined with overextended governments tasked with addressing many difficult issues, truly limits enforcement of these laws.

Fair trade chocolate is great and all. But ultimately, the only real way to ensure that chocolate is not made by kids is to hold the chocolate companies legally accountable for their supply chains. If Hershey’s buys chocolate from a source and doesn’t ensure that it is not using child labor, then Hershey’s should have to pay a big ol’ fine. It’s not like Steinway can use elephant ivory for their piano keys after all, so the idea that supply chains are impossible for companies to control is obviously completely ridiculous. They simply choose not to because it is easier for them. That has to change. Only legal accountability at the top will fix the problem. Demand that on National Chocolate Day.

Trump exhausting GOP’s supply of quiet things not said out loud

[ 54 ] October 27, 2016 |

“We wants it! We wants it!” whines creepy half man, half yam thing [autoplay].

“In just thinking to myself right now, we should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump, right?” he said. “Why are we even having it for? What are we having it for? Her policies are so bad. Boy, do we have a big difference.”

Boy, do we ever.

Sen. Kirk you have 30 seconds to remind everyone you’re a human anus … GO!

[ 94 ] October 27, 2016 |

The idea that people who aren’t 110% European-American can’t have deep roots in this country isn’t uncommon. Kirk’s comment, complete with mugging for the audience afterwards, is just more proof that 2016 is the year of shrieking the quiet parts.

Also, that Kirk’s a human anus. I hope Duckworth crushes him.

Update – Thanks to Warren Terra for a second video. More about the debate, complete with bonus Kirkian assholery.

What a Neoliberal Sellout

[ 77 ] October 27, 2016 |


I’m waiting for our Hillary-hating leftist friends to denounce Noam Chomsky as a neoliberal sellout, probably taking checks from the Clinton Foundation too and maybe, just maybe, having Ron Brown assassinated.

I mean, I don’t like Clinton at all, but I think she’s really being demonized. She’s no worse than the European leaders, for example. So, for example, in Libya she was terrible, but [former French President Nicolas] Sarkozy and [former UK Prime Minister David] Cameron were worse. And on some things, she’s surprisingly dovish…. There’s a leak of a private discussion that she had with a couple of anti-nuke people, national security specialists who were critical of the nuclear buildup — not [defense secretary for President Bill Clinton] William Perry, but [former Defense Department official] Andrew C. Weber — and she was probably accommodating to them, but the statements that she made were not bad — if you hold her feet to the fire and make her pursue that, it would make sense.

So she expressed some skepticism about Obama’s trillion-dollar nuclear modernization plan. She came out in opposition to the most dangerous part of it — the development of smaller nuclear-tip missiles, which can be adapted, scaled down for battlefield usage. She opposed that and made a couple of other reasonable comments, which were probably in reaction to her audience, since politicians say what people want to hear, but it’s something that she could be pressed on by popular movements — “OK, you’re on the record for this, so stop this.”

We all know that true leftists defend Putin and Assad because we know that the United States is automatically the most evil nation in the history of the universe and thus the nation’s enemies are the good buds of the left.

Race and Power in the American West

[ 87 ] October 27, 2016 |


Exhibit A:

Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five of their followers, charged in the armed takeover of a federally owned Oregon wildlife sanctuary in January, were acquitted Thursday of federal conspiracy and weapons charges.

The verdict brings to a close a case that gripped the nation earlier this year with its public debate about government powers, public lands and constitutional rights.

There was a Wild West quality to the episode, with armed men in cowboy hats taking on federal agents in a tussle over public lands and putting out a call for aid, only to see their insurrection fizzle.

In a monthlong trial here, the defendants never denied that they had occupied and held the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters for nearly six weeks, demanding that the federal government surrender the 188,000-acre property to local control. But their lawyers argued that prosecutors did not prove that the group had engaged in an illegal conspiracy that kept federal workers — employees of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management — from doing their jobs.

Exhibit B:

Police in riot gear faced off with protesters on horseback as the monthslong protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline came to a head Thursday.

At least 24 protesters have been arrested since law enforcement Humvees and helicopters began to flood the area to break up a protester encampment near the pipeline’s path.

Calling themselves “water protectors,” supporters of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe set up tents and teepees on the land, which they said belongs to the tribe under a 19-century treaty.

But authorities said they are trespassing on pipeline property. Officials brought in reinforcements from seven states to remove protesters and dismantle illegal roadblocks made of hay bales and wood.

As the standoff continued into Thursday afternoon, police deployed bean bag rounds and pepper spray gas and unleashed a high-pitched siren to disperse the crowd. Debris on a bridge caught fire, sending thick plumes of smoke into the air.

Break out the snacks and sex toys

[ 49 ] October 27, 2016 |

Bundy Bros and five other leaders of the Malheur NWR occupation – Not guilty.

What lessons have they learned from their experience?

Defendant Ken Medenbach, who was not in the courtroom for the verdict and had been away for medical treatment, began crying when informed of the news over the telephone.

“It’s wonderful – the holy spirit has been listening to our prayers,” Medenbach said. “The people have spoken.”


Great Republican Men of Principle, An Ongoing Series

[ 61 ] October 27, 2016 |


Trump-endorsing-and-supporting Representative Jason Chaffetz has, despite a showy rescinding of his endorsement of Donald Trump, announced that he is endorsing and supporting Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy:

Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz is openly excited for Hillary Clinton to get elected, because he plans to spend years badgering her with bullshit congressional hearings. But he also wants you to know that he plans to vote for Donald Trump, despite showily unendorsing him over Trump’s plain and explicitly stated fondness for grabbing women by their pussies. Values are overrated.

 This has become a fun trend among Republican lawmakers, like Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer, who joined many other female Republican Senators in saying she would vote for VP candidate Mike Pence but not for Trump and then just kinda took the whole thing back.

Similarly, Chaffetz said on October 8 “I’m out,” meaning that he previously planned to vote for a dangerous lunatic who described Mexican people as rapists and criminals and who called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, but that pussygrabbing is a step too far.

“I can no longer in good conscience endorse this person for president. It is some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine,” Chaffetz told Utah’s Fox 13 News before deciding, you know what, who cares?

Here’s Chaffetz on Wednesday:

To address one argument in defense of drawing what is in fact an entirely meaningless distinction between a politician “voting for” and “endorsing” a candidate, “endorsing” a candidate no more implies that you agree with everything a candidate does than voting for her does. It reflects a judgment that the candidate is, on balance, better than the alternatives. This is the judgment Chaffetz had made about Trump. He endorses Trump, he supports Trump, he’s in, and his moral grandstanding is pathetic.

Speaking out

[ 116 ] October 27, 2016 |

mad men


From an evidence standpoint her story seems very credible, given that she told it to several people at the time, and that she has very little to gain from repeating it now, and a lot to lose, in the form of the inevitable vilification that will follow.

Yiannopoulozilla vs. Testudo! Now with WTF is a Terp? update

[ 95 ] October 27, 2016 |

Eeek. Milo Yiannopoulos is coming for University of Maryland because the college is in on the plot to freeze his peach.

“University of Maryland stung the students that I was supposed to speak to on Thursday night with a six and a half thousand dollar security fee, four days from the event,” Milo stated. “Well my response to that is very simple. We will hold an event at the University of Maryland, come hell or high water, because they are a public institution and they are not allowed to do that to their students.”

There are a couple of ways to explain his claim. Either 6 and 2 are the same number on Planet Breitbart or he’s a veracity challenged human being.

University spokeswoman Crystal Brown said the cost for the event at Ritchie Coliseum had been estimated at $5,048.

Security would have cost $2,211, Brown said. The other costs included stage setup, lighting, AV, room fees, tables, chairs and other accommodations, she said.

Brown said representatives of Yiannopoulos had requested five university police officers to protect him. The final cost estimate provided to the student group included six officers, she said.

Police don’t work for free? Even to protect a defender of liberty like Yiannopoulos? This is Obama’s Clinton’s fault!

Terps for Trump, the student group hosting the event, tried to raise the additional funds with this more or less heartfelt plea.

“We at Terps for Trump regret to inform that we have run into some bumps regarding funding for this event,” the group wrote. “We all love and appreciate Milo’s work and wholeheartedly want him to give his talk at our University, however we simply cannot afford to pay for this more or less enormous last minute bill by ourselves.”

Other bumps the group encountered included being unable to meet deadlines because the vile Forces of PCSJW used Supreme Commander Obama’s time machine to travel back in time to steal all of their pens so they couldn’t fill out the paperwork.

An Oct. 20 email from Matt Clair, coordinator for Facility Scheduling, to Terps For Trump President Matt Morris indicated that the two parties had met on Oct. 17 and agreed the student group would pay a deposit of $2,000 and submit a signed agreement by Oct. 19 to host a talk by Yiannopoulos at Ritchie. But in addition to the student group’s GoFundMe campaign falling short of the $2,000, Terps for Trump had not turned in the required paperwork by the time Clair sent the email the next day — so the event was canceled.

Conservatism can’t fail! It can only be failed. By failure. And anyway, UMD should have just done the easy thing, which is to let Terps for Trump and Yiannopoulos do what they want for whatever money they were willing to pay.

“We will reschedule, the event will continue and when the event does continue I will be speaking for an hour and a half about … free speech at the University of Maryland,” Yiannopoulos said. “It would have been a lot easier for them if they’d just let this talk happen.”

No he isn’t a hyper-privileged poseur, how dare you?

He added he also intends to contact this university’s Alumni Network to make alumni aware of the matter and gauge their reactions to the decision.

“We’ll let the Republicans know what’s happening here, and we’ll see if UMD’s own alumni agree with the university’s decisions here,” Yiannopoulos said. “There’s really no good outcome for UMD from all of this. It’s a very, very dumb thing for them to try to do, and they’re going to suffer for it.”

That will keep him busy. First, he’ll have to force UMD’s Alumni Association to create a network for Republican alums, then he’ll have to bully people into joining, then he’ll have to explain who he is, and then they’ll have to care.

Stay tuned for live coverage of the Terps for Trump/Yiannopoulos riots!

Explanatory update: Terp is short for terrapin, specifically the diamondback terrapin, which is UMD’s mascot. I don’t know the reason why, but given that UMD started out as an agricultural college, it certainly is original.

I Missed the Memo Telling the Left That We Now Support the Widespread Invasion of Privacy

[ 433 ] October 27, 2016 |

Yglesias completely owned Greenwald here:

While the libertarian useful idiot for Vladimir Putin Glenn Greenwald is not a leftist by any reasonable definition, most of his fans certainly consider themselves to be on the left. And those who believe that such major revelations as John Podesta’s musing on risotto and that Bill Clinton committed the crime of the century by trying to help a friend who had cancer are a sign of the corrupt nature of $$Killery certainly conceive of themselves as leftists.

I don’t know, I guess that maybe I think the left shouldn’t be falling behind an organization run by a guy who won’t stand trial for his rape charges that engages in massive privacy invasions. I mean, that’s pretty disgusting behavior. But then after being officially run out of the left for not leaving a faculty dinner to immediately engage in an hours-long Twitter defense of the greatest martyr in known human history, Matt Bruenig, on the direct orders of Corey Robin and Connor Kilpatrick, what does this Hillary Hack who happens to believe that workers need to right to collective bargaining and women should have reproductive rights so maybe we shouldn’t help elect a fascist know about being a leftist? Maybe Naomi Klein will be run out of the left too for getting after Greenwald for covering all of this with such glee.

And hey, let’s start a pool to predict when Greenwald shows up in comments to call me a LIAR and other varieties of his classic all-caps insults!

The Kansas Economic Miracle

[ 38 ] October 27, 2016 |


Sam Brownback and Republican legislators conducted an experiment on the people of Kansas. As conservatives have long urged, they slashed taxes on the wealthy, raised taxes on the poor, and devastated social services. All of this was worth it because it would unleash amazing economic growth. How is that working out? Well:

The Philadelphia Fed released coincident indices today. Figure 1 shows state-by-state 3 month trends. Needless to say, the outlook for Kansas — that laboratory for supply side nostrums — is not auspicious.

While Alaska seems to be in the running for worst performing, in fact the 3 month (annualized) decline of 4.5% for Kansas is the worst in the 50 states.

It seems worth noting at this point that the chief goal of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell is to take the Kansas economic miracle formula national.

…Brave Sir Sam protecting his citizens from facts and their well-known liberal bias:

No wonder Gov. Sam Brownback and other state officials have killed a quarterly report aimed at telling Kansans how his policies are affecting the state economy.

Late this week I obtained copies of two recent reports (thanks to the Kansas Center for Economic Growth) that were produced by the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors but basically hidden from the public. Brownback is the council’s chairman.

The “Indicators of the Kansas economy” — from November 2015 and February 2016 — showed a state that’s in the dumps.

That’s especially true when compared to a six-state region selected by Brownback’s team (Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma) and to the United States as a whole.

Sadly for Kansans, this is part of a long-term trend created by Brownback’s ruinous policies, most notably his costly income tax cuts from 2012. The quarterly reports have been downbeat for years; here’s an example from 2014.

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