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Since there seems to be some doubt about the ability of people to successfully enroll for health insurance on the healthcare.gov web site, I went through the enrollment process this morning (about 7:30am EST) and managed to enroll without a hitch. I'm in Ohio, where the Republican government has refused to set up a state exchange, so this is through the national exchange.

Screen shots of the process are shown sequentially below. I had previously set up an account last week, so these screen shots just show the enrollment process. Click on any image to see a larger version.

Click on the application in progress...

Click on resume enrollment...

Click on the green SET button to select a health insurance plan...

more...

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Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 09:27 AM PDT

NYTimes.com down -- DOS attack

by jmknapp

Developing: The corporate and media sites of The New York Times (NYT) were experiencing a major cyber attack on Wednesday afternoon, according to a source close to the matter.
Source: New York Times Website Hit by Cyber Attack

Down for about an hour now.

Possibly related:

The news comes from security firm FireEye which believes the group are using new versions of cracking tools called Aumlib and Ixeshe. The researchers spotted the updated malware when analysing an attack on an organisation involved in "shaping economic policy."

Evasion

Researchers with FireEye Nart Villeneuve and Ned Moran said that the updated version of Ixeshe, which has been around since 2009 and was used to attack targets in East Asia, now uses new network traffic patterns in a bid to "evade traditional network security systems."

Chinese Hackers Behind New York Times Attack Return with ‘Improved’ Malware
Discuss

The idea of compromising on the income cutoff didn't get a warm response when I posted this diary in Nov., but in light of recent events maybe it warrants another look.
---------------------------
The Tax Policy Institute of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution has an informative table of the distribution of adjusted gross income (AGI) for the 2011 tax year:

Income Breaks, 2011

The Democratic rallying cry in the wake of the election has been to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the "top 2%" of AGI. The table at the above link shows that the top 2% cutoff is $143,705 for single filers and $477,128 for married filing jointly. That's a bit different from the $200,000/$250,000 numbers bandied about, but maybe the trial balloons shouldn't be taken too literally.

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to see just what kind of revenue can be generated as a function of the AGI cut-off, assuming that the cut-off is a number that's negotiable.

Crunching data from the TPI table and the proposed tax rate tables I get this curve of additional revenue vs. the tax cut expiration cutoff:

So just letting the Bush tax cuts for everyone would generate over $300 billion annually. That would go a long way towards shoring up the deficit, but evidently that's not politically possible, even though this would just restore the tax rates of the Clinton years. Oh, we would plunge into an economic abyss, the economists and business analysts tell us (just as the same people said about the Clinton 1994 tax hikes and were dead wrong). Whatever, that's the political situation we're dealing with so the only question on the table is where the "tax the rich" cutoff will be in terms of the Bush tax cut expiration.

The above chart shows clearly how the Bush tax cuts were weighted toward the wealthy. Just eliminating the cuts for the top couple percent gets about a third of revenue back. The chart doesn't show much detail on the steep part of the curve, so here's the same chart with a logarithmic scale:

So that's pretty interesting. Eliminating the tax cut for the top 1% generates nearly $100 billion in annual revenue, while extending that out to 2% only generates a little more. Might that be a potential compromise, i.e., set the cutoff at 1%? That would be $193,307 single and $761,938 married.

Discuss

Some interesting data regarding provisional and early voting in the official results from Franklin County, which includes Columbus:

Official Result Summary (Franklin County Only) -- Excel spreadsheet

The data in the spreadsheet is excellent, breaking down provisional and early voting by precinct.

Overall, Pres. Obama won the county by 60.5% to Romney's 37.8%. Obama's margin for early voting, both by mail and in person at the early voting center, was a little greater, 65% to 33%.

But there was a huge difference between early voting by mail and in-person:

mail: Obama 57% to Romney 41% (i.e., a little more Republican than the overall result)
in-person: Obama 83% to Romney 15% (!)

Wow. No mystery why Ohio Sec. of State John Husted was gung-ho to send early voting by mail applications to every voter in the state back in September, while subsequently doing everything he could to limit hours and days at the early voting centers.

This was the scene at the early voting center in Columbus on the Sunday before the election, a day that Husted wanted the centers closed but was forced by the courts to open them:

Provisional voting data in the county is also illuminating--more below...

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Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 05:37 AM PST

Ohio early voting--Franklin County

by jmknapp

Data from the Franklin County, Ohio board of elections in Columbus shows how effectively the Obama GOTV effort capitalized on early voting in the blue, urban counties. In Ohio early voting is done both by mail and in person at early voting centers in each of Ohio's 88 counties.

Here's a scatter plot of Franklin County's 802 precincts, with the % of in-person early voting plotted against the Obama support in the precinct:

By the time you get to 90% Obama support (i.e., the predominantly black precincts), 25% of the vote on the average was cast in person at the early voting center on Morse Rd. in Columbus. By contrast the heavily Republican precincts averaged less than 10% turnout at the early voting center.

more...

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Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 12:28 PM PST

Mars pix and an appeal

by jmknapp

The Mars Science Laboratory rover, aka Curiosity, is currently in its 102nd sol (Mars day) since landing. As it takes pictures with its 17 different cameras the images are released on NASA's raw images website, often within hours of when they were taken.

Here's a random sampling of some recent images--over 25,000 have come down to date--followed by an appeal by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Self portrait of the main mast:

Continue Reading

The Tax Policy Institute of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution has an informative table of the distribution of adjusted gross income (AGI) for the 2011 tax year:

Income Breaks, 2011

The Democratic rallying cry in the wake of the election has been to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the "top 2%" of AGI. The table at the above link shows that the top 2% cutoff is $143,705 for single filers and $477,128 for married filing jointly. That's a bit different from the $200,000/$250,000 numbers bandied about, but maybe the trial balloons shouldn't be taken too literally.

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to see just what kind of revenue can be generated as a function of the AGI cut-off, assuming that the cut-off is a number that's negotiable.

Crunching data from the TPI table and the proposed tax rate tables I get this curve of additional revenue vs. the tax cut expiration cutoff:

So just letting the Bush tax cuts for everyone would generate over $300 billion annually. That would go a long way towards shoring up the deficit, but evidently that's not politically possible, even though this would just restore the tax rates of the Clinton years. Oh, we would plunge into an economic abyss, the economists and business analysts tell us (just as the same people said about the Clinton 1994 tax hikes and were dead wrong). Whatever, that's the political situation we're dealing with so the only question on the table is where the "tax the rich" cutoff will be in terms of the Bush tax cut expiration.

The above chart shows clearly how the Bush tax cuts were weighted toward the wealthy. Just eliminating the cuts for the top couple percent gets about a third of revenue back. The chart doesn't show much detail on the steep part of the curve, so here's the same chart with a logarithmic scale:

So that's pretty interesting. Eliminating the tax cut for the top 1% generates nearly $100 billion in annual revenue, while extending that out to 2% only generates a little more. Might that be a potential compromise, i.e., set the cutoff at 1%? That would be $193,307 single and $761,938 married.

Discuss

A conference call/webcast from Organizing For America just concluded, where OFA Regional Field Director Geoff Berman and Battleground State Director Mitch Stewart recapped the successes of the 2012 election strategy and ground game, followed by Pres. Obama bridging in to thank the volunteers (some 30,000 listening live). The President talked about the path forward, through the "fiscal cliff" and beyond.

Here's the audio (about 20 minutes):

Update: As mentioned at the end of the call, go to http://theaction.org to join the action to end the Bush tax cuts for the richest two percent.

Discuss

Here's a Google Trends chart for the term 'fiscal cliff' over the last several days:

My my--suddenly on the day after this historic election where Democratic Hope triumphed over the Republican drumbeat of Apocalypse,  the Most Important Issue Ever is that the President is on the verge of driving us over a "fiscal cliff." Pass it on.

This is nothing more than the defeated Republican Party and its media allies trying to retain control of the narrative, with the usual apocalyptic framing.

Poll

How should we approach the fiscal cliff?

63%12 votes
31%6 votes
5%1 votes

| 19 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss

Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 08:04 AM PST

Buying opportunity

by jmknapp

The US stock markets are down almost 2% today as the Wall Street dead-enders sort through the rubble of their world view. After all, Clint Eastwood and other conservative luminaries have been speaking in apocalyptic terms, intoning that the country "cannot survive" another Obama term. So today they have to wallow in their own rhetorical offal for a while. This is a great buying opportunity.

Just as these same people were dragged kicking and screaming into prosperity by Pres. Bill Clinton, despite guaranteeing (Kudlow) that the Clinton "tax-the-rich" budget would explode the deficit and plunge the country into recession, they were the beneficiaries of a prosperous 1990s.

Republicans may make good businesspeople and stock traders on a myopic short-term level, but they have absolutely no idea how to run a modern economy, and their brand of "free market" ideology has proven time and again to be ultimately counterproductive. The economy does better under Democratic leadership.

As such, I was worried about the prospect of a Romney/GOP victory for my retirement accounts & have pretty much been in cash for a couple years. Today, particularly with the Wall Street 2% discount, my inclination is BUY BUY BUY.

Republicans have been selling the "malaise" scenario and the Obama apocalypse for so long that today they are thinking that they have to go Galt, and stock up on dehydrated food and precious metals. The beauty of that is, it gives a lift to a bull run in the market, much as short-sellers do, as they are ultimately forced to capitulate and buy to settle their positions as prices move up against them.

It's said that the markets go up until the last sucker buys and go down until the last sucker sells. The suckers are now selling. FOX News has frequent ads for precious metals, probably now at a bubble peak, surely an audience calculation. Just when the GOP dead-enders and survivalists finally capitulate and cash in their fallout shelter supplies will be the time to sell stocks off, and whipsaw them both ways.

Discuss

Some photos and videos from Pres. Obama's campaign rally yesterday in Columbus, Ohio at Nationwide Arena. Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z warmed up the crowd.

Here's a panorama of the crowd outside the entrance before the doors opened--click on the image to zoom in and pan:

Continue Reading

Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 06:50 PM PST

Pres. Obama in Columbus, Ohio

by jmknapp

Here's a panorama mosaic from Pres. Obama's rally at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio this afternoon. Click on the image to see the original-- it's 13571x3911 pixels so I used zoom.it, an image service where you can zoom in and pan a very large image.

Good energy from musical guests Bruce Springsteen and Jay Z going into E-day--canvassing starts at 9:30am!

Discuss
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