Looks like the LA Lakers are going to sign Ron Artest, and let Trevor Ariza walk in free agency. Like Kevin Pelton, I’m pretty skeptical that swap improves the team even before you take into consideration that fact that Ariza is considerably younger and less crazy. Ariza is a more efficient scorer than Artest, and I don’t think it makes much sense to say that the Lakers needed another shot creator.
I find the move especially puzzling since LA seems to have a much clearer need at point guard.
Yesterday in an interview with Phoenix’s KTVK 3TV, the local news anchor asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to play a quick word association game. McCain was left tongue-tied and speechless when the reporter asked him to give a one-word response to what he thinks about the controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio:
HOST: Health care.
MCCAIN: Needs reform.
HOST: That’s two words. [weird laugh] Iraq.
MCCAIN: The best.
HOST: US-Mexico Border.
MCCAIN: Transition. HOST: Sheriff Joe Arpaio:
Though McCain — who is up for re-election — failed to provide his own constituents with a clear answer last night, he offered CNN’s national news anchor John King a much more extensive reaction when asked about Arpaio back in February:
KING: You have had a roller-coaster relationship with this sheriff [Joe Arpaio]. He says he is just simply enforcing the law. He goes into businesses, he’s rounding up people. John Conyers, others in Congress say racial profiling. Is the sheriff in line or out of line in your view?
MCCAIN: Having been engaged in the presidential campaign, I haven’t paid as close attention. I’ve disagreed with the sheriff fundamentally about the fact that we need to have a comprehensive approach to illegal immigration.
From 1998 to 2005, ExxonMobil directed almost $16 million to a group of 43 lobby groups in an effort to confuse Americans about global warming. After being criticized by the Royal Society in 2006, Exxon promised to end funding to groups questioning climate change. In May 2008, Exxon again issued a public mea culpa and pledged to cut funding to groups that “divert attention” from the need to develop and invest in clean energy. Yet, in 2008, while cutting contributions to the most extreme groups, Exxon still funded the National Center for Policy Analysis, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, all groups which publicly question or deny global warming:
Company records for 2008 show that ExxonMobil gave $75,000 (£45,500) to the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) in Dallas, Texas and $50,000 (£30,551) to the Heritage Foundation in Washington. It also gave $245,000 (£149,702) to the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington. The list of donations in the company’s 2008 Worldwide Contributions and Community investments is likely to trigger further anger from environmental activists, who have accused ExxonMobil of giving tens of millions to climate change sceptics in the past decade.
Exxon’s continued duplicity should come as no surprise. Just as ExxonMobil makes public promises to end funding to groups that work to deny climate change, it also has devoted millions to ad campaigns touting clean energy without actually investing significantly in renewable energy. In 2007, Exxon-Mobil spent $100 million on advertising and “green-washing” campaigns in an attempt to exaggerate their commitment to renewable energy, producing ads that focused on global warming, efficiency, and alternative energy. That’s despite the fact that ExxonMobil spent more on CEO Rex Tillerson’s salary than on renewable energy in 2007. While Tillerson took in $21.7 million, Exxon invested only $10 million or so in renewable energy – just a tenth of the amount they spent talking about investing in clean energy.
Exxon is staffed by and supports those who deny the most basic facts of climate change and global warming. In June 2005, White House official Philip Cooney had to resign from Bush’s Council on Environmental Quality after being caught altering documents to hide links between fossil fuels and global warming. ExxonMobil waited only three days to hire him. In fact, ExxonMobil didn’t admit that global warming is occurring until 2007.
This latest evidence of Exxon’s continued opposition to clean energy comes less than a month after the American Petroleum Institute released a report revealing just how little the top Big Oil companies invest in renewable energy – and how far they’ll go to try and say otherwise.
This afternoon, Roanoke television station WDBJ-TV, announced they will be refusing to air a National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) ad attacking freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA), citing factual inaccuracies. The NRCC had been planning to run television ads against Democratic members of Congress, like Perriello, who voted for the Waxman-Markey clean energy economy legislation that passed last week. After receiving information about the factual inaccuracies in the ad, the station pulled it from rotation.
For any objective observer, the the ad is pulled out of thin air. The ads erroneously state that the bill will “destroy jobs” and “cost middle-class families $1,800 a year.” According to a study by the Center for American Progress, clean energy economy legislation will create 1.7 million American jobs while simultaneously addressing climate change by capping carbon dioxide emissions. The $1,800 figure used by NRCC is also made of whole cloth. The Congressional Budget Office has scored the bill and found that by 2020, the annual cost would be about $175 per household — about a postage stamp a day. An EPA estimate of the bill found similar results, projecting the cost to be about $80 to $111 per a year.
Still refusing to accept reality, the Republican leadership is instructing its members to lie about the clean energy economy bill:
– Last week, Republican whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) posted a message erroneously claiming that clean energy legislation will amount to “a national energy tax of up to $3,100 on all Americans.”
– Republican leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) posted on his website that the clean energy bill will cost “$3,100 a year,” then modified that number to “$3,000 per household per year.”
– Republican conference chair Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), not to be outdone, claimed the clean energy bill would be “over $4,000 a year.”
All the numbers cited by Republicans are at least seventeen times the highest possible projection by the CBO and EPA.
Clearly, Republicans opposed to the clean energy bill seem willing to justify their opposition using outright falsehoods. But fortunately, at least some stations are not willing to propagate it.
I revisited The Get Up Kids’ last night, and they wrote a lot of bad songs! But “Don’t Hate Me” is good and I love “Mass Pike” though your mileage may vary according to whether or not you used to drive on the Mass Pike a lot with your first serious girlfriend.
In a new article, Time’s Michael Scherer describes how Vice President Biden has been aggressively reaching out to mayors on the their use of stimulus money. “My rear end is on the line just like yours,” said Biden on a recent conference call with five mayors and county executives. “I’m the guy in charge of this deal. So if this doesn’t work, it’s me.” In a follow-up blog post, Scherer reveals that Biden has talked to “dozens of mayors and 47 of the 50 state governors about the Recovery Act”:
One interesting fact that didn’t make it into the story. Since March, Biden has talked, usually in conference calls, to dozens of mayors and 47 of the 50 state governors about the Recovery Act. The three governors who have not yet been on the line, though they have been invited: Alaska’s Sarah Palin, Texas’ Rick Perry and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal. You can draw your own conclusions.
Reid says he expects the tactic of gentle persuasion to work best, given the size of his Senate Democratic flock and the political divergences within it. “I don’t dictate how people vote,” he said in an interview this month. “If it’s an important vote, I try to tell them how important it is to the Senate, the country, the president … But I’m not very good at twisting arms. I try to be more verbal and non-threatening. So there are going to be—I’m sure—a number of opportunities for people who have different opinions not to vote the way that I think they should. But that’s the way it is. I hold no grudges.”
I’m not sure I would say this philosophy has been bearing a ton of fruit.
Here is a partial comparison of how the committee reduced the price tag (all numbers are over a ten-year period):
New HELP Estimate
Old HELP Estimate
Subsidies In The Exchange
$556 billion from old version
Tax Credit To Small Employers
$4 billion from old version
$52 billion from old version
$36 billion from old version
$59 billion from old version
The most interesting saving came from the reduction in subsidies. The original language allowed for $1,279 billion in subsidies, but the new bill scored a $723 billion price tag with the CBO, a 40 percent reduction. What happened? Well, the CBO concluded that by implementing an employer mandate more Americans would retain their work-place insurance and fewer would have to purchase coverage from the Exchange. As a result, the government would have to spend less money subsidizing coverage (since the employer contribution would be preserved); employers who don’t offer coverage would pay a penalty of $750 per full-time employee, $375 for each part-time employee, that would bring in an extra $52 billion for health care reform!
The bill also saves money by reducing the subsidy eligibility from 500% FPL to 400% FPL. Now, American families of four with incomes between 400% FPL ($88,000) and 150% FPL ($33,000) would receive government assistance when purchasing insurance, but the subsidies do not kick in for a family of four at $400% FPL until they have spent more than 12.5% (or $11,000) of their gross adjusted income on health insurance — a percentage that’s substantially higher than the 6% threshold most affordability experts recommend.
The bill also finds approximately $59 billion in new revenues from premiums collected for long term care paid by individuals purchasing disability insurance through the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, legislation currently under consideration that would create an insurance program for adults who become functionally disabled. The CLASS Act establishes “a national insurance program to be financed by voluntary payroll deductions to provide benefits to adults who become severely functionally impaired.” All working adults will be automatically enrolled in the program, unless they choose not to be.
“His value is in the intangibles now as much as anything,” one Western Conference scouting director says. “He gets guys to play at a higher level. He’s played in the Finals; he’s won gold medals. He was really the guy that set the tone last summer in Beijing.”
I think this is an Andris Biedrins case—a player who is in fact valuable in ways that can be fairly easily quantified, and who’s generally recognized to be valuable, but whose value people insist on making a mystery out of.
Kidd is a well-known triple-double machine because he’s an extraordinary rebounder for a point guard. And even though last year’s 9.9 rebound rate is quite a bit down from the peak of his career, it’s still very good. What’s more, in the past few seasons he’s become an effective three point shooter. Consequently, the .522 TS% he put up last year in Dallas was actually the best of his career. This has partially offset the fact that his assist ratio seems to be on the decline.
The point is that the numbers basically tell the tale you’d expect. Kidd is valuable because he’s still putting up the numbers of a valuable player. He’s also, overall, on the decline at age 36. So any team that signs him will, of course, be worried about further declines in his performance level. He’s also at a point where he probably can’t guard many of the league’s quick point guards, so in some contexts putting him on the floor could create major matchup problems. But I don’t think intangibles have a great deal to do with it.
A leading right-wing argument against offering a public health insurance option as part of any health reform initiative is that such a plan would drive private health insurance companies out of the market. The health insurance lobby group AHIP called a public option “potentially lethal” to their industry. Similarly, Republican Conference Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said in May that adding a public plan would be akin to asking mice to compete against an elephant. “There wouldn’t be any mice left after a while,” he insisted.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) recently used this talking point himself in arguing against a public option for the National Review. Yesterday, however, DeMint appeared to inadvertently offer an example that demonstrates that the notion that the public plan would drive out competition is false. On Bill Bennett’s radio show, DeMint called blocking health care reform the top Republican priority, arguing that of all the items on President Obama’s legislative agenda, it would be the hardest to reverse. To support his point, he offered “government schools” — public education — as an example. “You can never, with another piece of legislation, change it,” DeMint said:
DEMINT: I think the biggest issue is health care. I think if they succeed in a government take over of health care the situation may be irreversible. It will be like government schools. I mean you can never just, with another piece of legislation, change it.
DeMint’s example of education is instructive, not because it is hard to repeal, but because it’s a prime example of successful public-private competition. Indeed, while state and local governments own and run the public education system — to a much greater extent than either Obama or members of Congress are suggesting with a public health insurance option — private schools are competing against the government and thriving in this country. Further, such competition actually improves outcomes. As the conservative Hoover Institution found, competition between public and private schools “improves achievement for both public and private school students and decreases the amount spent per pupil.”
As Joseph Hacker explains, such public-private competition works well not just in education, but in many other sectors of the U.S. economy:
In many areas of American commerce, private and government programs comfortably co-exist. FHA insured loans and non-FHA loans, Social Security and private pensions, public and private universities–all have long thrived side by side. Each side of the divide has strengths and weaknesses, but in every case the public sector is providing something the private sector cannot: A backup that’s there if and when you need it; a benchmark for private providers; and a backstop to make sure costs don’t spin out of control.
Igor Volsky recently explained the actual impact of having a competing public plan, writing, “In an environment where private plans are forced to compete with a new efficient public program, inefficient, over-bloated insurers will go out of business, but private plans with good networks of providers or better services will continue attracting new enrollees.” Jonathan Cohn has more on the effects of public-private competition.
Igor Volsky has more on the role of private insurers in public-private competition.