“Don’t vote 4 candidates that take money from big banks” The Big Short director Adam McKay #Oscars

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D7txLTlfkA]

#HILLARY2016 @BillClinton Justify’s Robert Byrd’s #KKK Membership
@Morning_Joe #Trump2016

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Fg3XNTMzNo]

When gods were hauled into Indian courts

When gods were hauled into Indian courts

A few years ago, an American senator took God to court, seeking a permanent injunction against “his harmful activities” such as “death, destruction and terrorisation”.

A judge threw out the case, saying that legal papers could not be served, since God did not have a proper address.
In India, many devout Hindus have very intimate relationships with their gods and goddesses and, keeping that in mind, the Indian judicial system regards deities as legal beings.
This means that there have also been instances where they have been hauled into court.
The BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Delhi lists some of the cases where deities have come into contact with man-made laws.

Statistician with near-perfect election formula says prepare yourself for President Trump

Statistician with near-perfect election formula says prepare yourself for President Trump
Response: Bill D. Herman

The degree of certainty claimed here is, on its face, absurd. It’s hard to find contests in _any_ arena with a 97% level of certainty in the outcome.
Consider the NBA, where the Golden State Warriors are on track for the best regular season record in league history, and the Philadelphia 76ers are almost the mirror image at 8-51. These are not merely the best/worst teams _this_ year. Decades from now, these teams will still be discussed as among the best/worst *of all time*. These teams played on January 30, and the money line put the odds of a Warriors win at about 97%:

This was for a game with very well-known rules, a very controlled environment, and two countervailing historical outliers creating a mismatch of epic proportions. It’s also a highly knowable environment with good, highly precise quantitative data. The sample sizes range from quite good (games played per time by that point in the season, career stats and trajectories for individual players) to pretty darned large, at least by pre-“big data” standards (every NBA game ever played). You add up all of that, and you have a future event that really can be predicted with 97% accuracy.

NONE of these conditions hold in a presidential election. Our entire database of events (past presidential elections) numbers in the dozens. The rules (formal and informal) change at least a little every time, and many of them (e.g., the Republican candidate must be strongly pro-life) seem like they won’t apply or matter as much this time.
“Previous presidential candidates like Trump” is an empty set, so you can’t model it. We’ve never had the voting public of one party refuse to be corralled by party leadership to anything like this extent in my lifetime — which is roughly the era of modern funding rules.

What happens when the existing political leadership in a party splits on “their” candidate — or as may happen, actively undermines him? We don’t know because it’s never happened. The sample size for that variable, at least, is zero. His model is based on whether or not there are hotly contested primaries of the incumbent party, but (and I’ll grant that this usually holds) contested primaries in the challenger party are normal and healthy. Does the 2016 Republican primary look normal and healthy to the party?
What happens if Bloomberg runs? (Viable 3rd party candidate, modern rules: Count those events on one hand.) How about if Trump is subpoenaed and forced to talk in open court about how Trump University was a big scam? That’s also not in the model.
Certainty increases as sample sizes increase, but his model only goes back to 1912. That’s a couple dozen elections. The margin of error on any study with an n of 25 is so high that no reasonable claim of certainty is possible. Once we have other valid data with much larger sample sizes — repeated polling in Ohio in September, say — then talk to me about relative certainty.
For comparison: Nate Silver may be too modest in his error estimates, but he only gives Clinton a 98% chance of beating Bernie Sanders in _Arkansas_ on Tuesday. (You know, the first place she got to be the First Lady?) With about 3 weeks before the 2008 election, he still gave John McCain a 5.9% chance of winning.
By that point, our financial system was toast — which played substantially into Obama’s hand. We had tons of good, recent polls about these two specific candidates after all the debates and most of the ads had come and gone, and McCain was repeatedly down by about 7 points. But one candidate in the 20th Century (Reagan) came back despite being behind by a similar margin in a later poll (let’s not talk about why), so there was still a chance for McCain, but it was slim indeed. There was still time for stuff to happen that could change the outcome.
Again, none of these conditions hold for the 2016 presidential election as of now. The economy is growing just slowly enough that it’s more of a Rorschach test than a huge factor for either party. Much more importantly, we have front runners but not yet nominees. The conventions and debates still have to happen. Almost a full year of news and political ads and sound bites and ground game moves still have to happen. Which is why one-on-one polls about hypothetical general election match-ups are pretty much useless right now.
There are far, far too many variables in play (all of the above) that are simply unknown to assign anything like 97% certainty to any model right now.
Anybody who tells you they’re 97% certain about November is full of crap. He’s published some solid work on statistics and political science, I’ll give you that, but he’s clearly drunk his own Kool-Aid on this one — and the press is all too happy to drink it right along with him.

Trump on Insurance Companies

[… the anti-trust exemption enjoyed by insurance companies, an atrocity dating back more than half a century, to the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945. This law, sponsored by one of the most notorious legislators in our history (Nevada Sen. Pat McCarran was thought to be the inspiration for the corrupt Sen. Pat Geary in The Godfather II), allows insurance companies to share information and collude to divvy up markets.
Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats made a serious effort to overturn this indefensible loophole during the debate over the Affordable Care Act.
Trump pounds home this theme in his speeches, explaining things from his perspective as an employer. “The insurance companies,” he says, “they’d rather have monopolies in each state than hundreds of companies going all over the place bidding …  It’s so hard for me to make deals  … because I can’t get bids.”
He goes on to explain that prices would go down if the state-by-state insurance fiefdoms were eliminated, but that’s impossible because of the influence of the industry. “I’m the only one that’s self-funding …  Everyone else is taking money from, I call them the bloodsuckers.”
Trump isn’t lying about any of this. Nor is he lying when he mentions that the big-pharma companies have such a stranglehold on both parties that they’ve managed to get the federal government to bar itself from negotiating Medicare prescription-drug prices in bulk.
“I don’t know what the reason is – I do know what the reason is, but I don’t know how they can sell it,” he says. “We’re not allowed to negotiate drug prices. We pay $300 billion more than if we negotiated the price.”
It’s actually closer to $16 billion a year more, but the rest of it is true enough. Trump then goes on to personalize this story. He claims (and with Trump we always have to use words like “claims”) how it was these very big-pharma donors, “fat cats,” sitting in the front row of the debate the night before. He steams ahead even more with this tidbit: Woody Johnson, one of the heirs of drug giant Johnson & Johnson (and the laughably incompetent owner of the New York Jets), is the finance chief for the campaign of whipping boy Jeb Bush. ]~ Matt Taibi

John Oliver: Voting

John Oliver: Voting

Every American deserves an equal vote. But in some states, access to voting is becoming less and less equal.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHFOwlMCdto]

Cayman Island Economy 101

The Cayman Islands economy = $3 billion
U.S.companies earnings there = $51 billion
the Scrutiny of presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax returns, which include millions of dollars in foreign investments. According to ABC News, Romney has as much as $8 million invested in 12 Cayman Islands funds. (The governor has money parked in Bermuda, Ireland, and Luxembourg as well.) The L.A. Times reported in 2007 that the former Massachusetts governor was listed as a general partner and investor in BCIP Associates III Cayman, a fund set up by his old employer Bain Capital. Bain has as many as 138 funds registered in the Caymans, according to ABC. The BCIP fund is registered at P.O. Box 908GT in George Town, the Caymanian capital. This is the address of Walker House, the local office of international law firm Walkers. It’s also, on paper at least, home to dozens  of other companies including Del Monte Fresh Produce Inc., the global food giant physically headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida.
Walker House is just one of a number of addresses in downtown George Town used by corporations, including Coca-Cola, Oracle, and Intel, to minimize taxes or cut out the red tape in international transactions. The vast majority of these companies are legally prohibited from doing business in the Caymans themselves. The most famous of these addresses, located just down the road at 335 South Church St., is Ugland House, a five-story office building that is home — physically — to law firm Maples and Calder, and — on paper — nearly 19,000 companies.
President Barack Obama called out Ugland House specifically in a 2009  speech, saying “either this is the largest building in the world or the largest tax scam in the world.” Legally speaking, it’s neither.
A 2008 GAO report found no evidence of illegal activity by Maples and Calder or any of the entities registered at Ugland House, about half of which have billing addresses in the United States. But, particularly in the case of hedge funds and private equity funds like Bain’s — about 38 percent of Ugland’s “tenants” — the building makes a mockery of the U.S. tax system.
As Romney’s campaign has repeatedly stated, investors in these funds do pay U.S. taxes on their income. But there are significant financial incentives in having a Cayman address. First of all, the British territory has no direct taxes, and makes it exceptionally easy to set up a new company — it only costs about $600.
A fund with a Cayman address also allows foreign investors to invest in U.S.-run funds — such as the bricks-and-mortar incarnation of BCIP Associates on Huntington Avenue in Boston — while avoiding double-taxation in both the United States and their home countries.
A managing partner of Maples and Calder told Bloomberg in 2009 that “having a registered office address in the Cayman Islands is driven by commercial considerations, not by tax avoidance,” but there are tax advantages for U.S. investors. Under U.S. tax law, a person is taxed on all foreign income. But a foreign corporation is not taxed on foreign income until it is distributed to shareholders, meaning greater returns for investors like Romney. The Caymans also allow U.S. non-profit entities like pension funds and university endowments to invest in hedge funds without paying the “unrelated business income tax,” which could be as high as 35 percent if those funds were based in the United States.
The organization Citizens for Tax Justice estimates that the U.S. federal government loses as much as $100 billion per year in revenue due to tax havens. Sen. Carl Levin has proposed  legislation that would treat foreign-registered, U.S.-based corporations as American companies for the purposes of tax law.
Legislation to shut down the Caymans as a tax haven has been proposed in the British parliament. Given the nearly $5 trillion held by U.S. corporations and individuals in tax-haven countries, though, these motions are likely to face some stiff, and well-funded resistance.
As for Romney, he argues, “I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes.” Fair enough, but it will be up to voters to decide what the definition of the word “owes” is.
House of 19,000 Corporations