This song would have made a great political ad against Trump in the 2016 election

This song would have made a great political ad against Trump in the 2016 election… just sayin’

This column on how to lower healthcare costs for everyone contains ideas that will never take hold…

This column on how to lower healthcare costs for everyone contains ideas that will never take hold… because it makes too much sense and puts to much responsibility on the public.

Similarly, ObamaCare’s premium subsidies and the tax credits proposed by Republicans artificially prop up high insurance premiums for bloated coverage that minimizes out-of-pocket payments. This prevents patients from caring about the bill, which reduces the incentives for doctors and hospitals to compete on price. If health-care deductions are maintained, the tax code should cap them and limit eligibility to HSA contributions and catastrophic premiums.

In other countries, governments hold down costs mainly by limiting access to care, drugs and technology. The results are long waits and worse medical outcomes, particularly for the poor and middle class, who are unable to circumvent those single-payer systems. If Republicans want to avoid going down that road, they need to educate the public on the benefits of a different approach: leveraging incentives and deregulation to reduce prices so that quality health care is affordable for all Americans.

From the Wall Street Journal

Another “Russia Hacked the Election” story gets debunked… this is getting ridiculous.

Another “Russia Hacked the Election” story gets debunked… this is getting ridiculous. Oy with the Russians already!

So what was wrong with this story? Just one small thing: it was false. The story began to fall apart yesterday when Associated Press reported that Wisconsin – one of the states included in the original report that, for obvious reasons, caused the most excitement – did not, in fact, have its election systems targeted by Russian hackers:

The spokesman for Homeland Security then tried to walk back that reversal, insisting that there was still evidence that some computer networks had been targeted, but could not say that they had anything to do with elections or voting. And, as AP noted: “Wisconsin’s chief elections administrator, Michael Haas, had repeatedly said that Homeland Security assured the state it had not been targeted.”

Then the story collapsed completely last night. The Secretary of State for another one of the named states, California, issued a scathing statement repudiating the claimed report:

Sometimes stories end up debunked. There’s nothing particularly shocking about that. If this were an isolated incident, one could chalk it up to basic human error that has no broader meaning.

But this is no isolated incident. Quite the contrary: this has happened over and over and over again. Inflammatory claims about Russia get mindlessly hyped by media outlets, almost always based on nothing more than evidence-free claims from government officials, only to collapse under the slightest scrutiny, because they are entirely lacking in evidence.

From The Intercept

President Trump and the Republican majority in Congress came up with a tax reform plan…

President Trump and the Republican majority in Congress came up with a tax reform plan… and hilarity ensues.

The Trump Administration, the House Committee on Ways and Means, and the Senate Committee on Finance have developed a unified framework to achieve pro-American, fiscally responsible tax reform. This framework will deliver a 21st century tax code that is built for growth, supports middle-class families, defends our workers, protects our jobs, and puts America first. It will deliver fiscally responsible tax reform by broadening the tax base, closing loopholes, and growing the economy.

From the White House

Here’s why I predict doom and this tax plan will never get implemented.

  1. A unified framework. When have the Republicans every been unified other than against President Obama?
  2. Democrats will declare that it’s “tax cuts for the wealthy” and that people will die because of cuts to some “vital service”… oh yeah, and the children (not that the children will get cut but I’m sure something awful has to happen to the children)
  3. They repeatedly passed Obamacare repeals while President Obama was in office but couldn’t do it when they have a President that will sign a repeal bill. If they can’t get that supposed “slam dunk” done then how are they going to pass tax reform?
  4. Their proposal is not true tax reform but a shifting of deck chairs. If they wanted to truly reform and simplify the tax code they’d either implement a flat tax (15% or 20% on every dollar earned) with no deductions, a simplified “progressive” tax (Three brackets, 10%, 20% and 30%) with no deductions, or scrap the income tax altogether and implement a nationwide consumption tax.

No one knows what a tax is for anymore anyway. Most people think it’s to raise revenue for government when in actuality a tax is a mechanism to reduce an activity. Tax cigarettes and you suppress cigarette consumption. Tax pop and you suppress pop consumption. Tax gasoline and you suppress gasoline consumption. Tax income and you suppress the creation of income.

We’re doomed I tell ya!

House and Senate “Intelligence” Committees are concerned about $150,000 in Facebook ads when Hillary spent nearly $1.2 billion and Trump a little over $600 million?!?

House and Senate “Intelligence” Committees are concerned about $150k in Facebook ads when Hillary spent nearly $1.2 billion and Trump a little over $600 million?!?  I had to put the word intelligence in quotes because it is stretching the definition to think that an intelligent person would think that a nearly combined $2 billion dollars gets overwhelmed by $150,000 on Facebook ads. If anything all these revelations about advertising and money in campaigns should prove that more money doesn’t always win elections. Hillary outspent Trump 2 to 1 and still lost.

2016 Presidential campaign spending via Bloomberg.com

In recent weeks, investigators have begun scrutinizing what role Russian activity on social media might have played in the election, especially after Facebook disclosed that it found more than $150,000 in Russian-linked ad spending on more than 5,200 ads on its platform.

From the Wall Street Journal

How about this question, is it illegal for the Russian Government or any foreign government to advertise? Should it be? It seems to me that the answer to this question should be a resounding no. Why is there something wrong with anyone advertising on TV, radio, or the Internet? Ultimately it’s up to the people to be intelligent enough to discern what information is valuable and what is not. The real crime here is the poor education system in the United States that is teaching people to just follow along with what they’re told rather than to question everything and look at all news and advertising with a skeptical eye.

 

Google Pixel Auto-focus Issue Solved

The offending laser sensors

I’ve been having auto-focus issues with my Google Pixel for the past couple of months. The solution will cost you about a 4mm x 4mm piece of electric tape. There are three dots to the right of the camera lens on the back of the phone. Take that tiny piece of tape and cover the two left most dots (These are the laser sensors). PROBLEM SOLVED.

I bought this phone back in June because I was having all kinds of issues with sluggishness with my Nexus 5X. These Android phones don’t handle updates well over time and just get bogged down and performance suffers.

I was mildly happy with the Pixel (Only mildly because I really didn’t wan to buy a new phone yet) until about 2 months ago I noticed that when taking video the camera kept losing focus. What ever the subject of my video would be and no matter the type of light the camera would start hunting around trying to figure out what it’s supposed to focus on.

I searched forums and sent feedback to Google but no software update ever fixed the problem. Today I even went so far as to contact support hoping that there was a solution they new about. The support person did everything they could but there was no fix. Totally frustrated I decided to search more across the Internet and low and behold I finally found an entry in a forum where a guy said he accidentally discovered that if he covered those two little holes that his auto-focus issues disappeared. I tried it and sure enough the fix was instant.

My theory is that the tiny micro scratches in the glass backing is messing with the laser’s ability to accurately read what’s in front of it.  So now, while the auto-focus isn’t as quick as it ought to be at least it works and won’t lose focus on my subject. This is not how a $700 phone should perform after only a few months of use.

Now I can get back to making non-sense dog videos for Instagram.

A good kind of silliness made possible by smartphones and the Internet. https://youtu.be/Y10133nm58I

I just discovered this two year old video on YouTube. It’s a good kind of silliness made possible by smartphones and the Internet.

Unsolicited advice on what to do regarding the Equifax data breach.

Here’s some unsolicited advice on what to do regarding the Equifax data breach this past week.  The advice below is what I gave to my children and it’s what I did and what I do on a regular basis to try to keep my financial life as secure as possible.  There may be better and more secure ways to do these things but this is the best way I know how.

You may have heard about the data breach with one of the three major credit reporting agencies. The data breach covered half of the population in the U.S. Normally I don’t worry too much about these data breaches but this one is really serious because Equifax let loose everything a person needs to open credit accounts and take out loans in your name. The first thing you should do is to go to the following link to determine if there is potential that your data was compromised.

https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/

If they say there is potential they are offering 12 months free fraud protection. Regardless of whether or not your credit information was compromised, in this day and age, it’s probably smart to put a security freeze on your credit reports with all three of the major credit reporting agencies.

It’s a bit of a pain to place a security freeze on your reports because every time you want to apply for credit or a new loan you’ll have to unfreeze your reports. But, this is the only way to try to prevent someone from taking out loans or opening new credit cards in your name, thereby ruining your credit. It costs at most $10 each so it’s a small cost to try to be secure. Go to the following links to place security freezes on your credit reports.

You’ll receive a PIN that you must not lose. Without that PIN you won’t be able to unfreeze your credit reports. That PIN is the only thing, for the time being, that the people who committed the breach won’t have. Print it and keep it in a safe or someplace else that is secure.

In addition to putting freezes on your reports you should also make a regular practice of reviewing your credit card, checking, and other financial accounts online as well as downloading and keeping all your financial  statements. With Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, Microsoft Onedrive, or even your local hard drive or removable storage media there really is no reason to not keep these documents. All my statements over a period of over a decade take up less than 200 MB of disk space. Should someone gain access to your accounts, particularly with bank accounts, and drain them statements will help prove what you had prior to any security breaches.

Use two-factor authentication where ever it’s offered. I use it with my Google accounts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, bank accounts, and any place else that allows it. Whenever possible I prefer to use a time based authenticator like Google Authenticator rather than SMS authentication because it’s more secure. SMS authentication less hassle but is better than nothing at all.

One more thing you should be doing. is using a password manager like Lastpass. Having separate complicated passwords for all your various logins will prevent someone from taking your information from one bank or social media service and using that to gain access to all your financial accounts. You’ll only have to remember one long password (mine is 39 characters long) and there are apps for iPhone and Android and browser extensions to make logging in as easy as possible.

Here are two articles on the Equifax breach if you’re interested.

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/09/so-equifax-says-your-data-was-hacked-now-what/

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2017/09/breach-at-equifax-may-impact-143m-americans/

Have the Democrats finally figured out that they can make a deal with President Trump?

Have the Democrats finally figured out that they can make a deal with President Trump?

President Donald Trump signaled he was open to making more deals with Democrats in Congress despite anger from fellow Republicans over a bipartisan agreement that passed the Senate Thursday yoking hurricane aid to an extension of the government’s ability to borrow.

For months, Mr. Trump has publicly mused about negotiating with Democrats, only to stop short. But Wednesday’s agreement on $15.25 billion in relief for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, combined with a three-month extension of the government’s funding and its borrowing limit, was followed by further outreach to Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.)

As he had Wednesday, on Thursday he singled out “Chuck and Nancy” by name when speaking to reporters, without mentioning their Republican counterparts.

I pointed this out way back in April when I blogged about Trump’s first 100 days. The Democrats in Washington don’t realize that they probably have a big ally in President Trump. If they are smart they will work with Trump, share the credit, and probably win big at the ballot box in 2018. I think this is why you’ve seen Senators Schumer and Feinstein and Congresswoman Pelosi moderate their tone regarding President Trump.

Meanwhile the Republican Party is in total disarray. Having been giant complainers for 8 years of President Obama and having legislative power for 6 they are showing today that all they wanted to do was complain. They should have had legislation ready to go to hit Trump’s desk. Now Trump is dealing with Democrats catching Republicans totally off guard. Does this put pressure on them to pass a bill regarding DACA?

From the Wall Street Journal