The Cooperman Geography

September 21, 2016 at 11:33 pm

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The civil insider trading complaint that the Securities and Exchange Commission filed against Leon Cooperman and Omega Advisors, Inc. is interesting for several reasons. Matt Levine has a characteristically shrewd take on it over at Bloomberg (ignore the headline and read down into the column, if you are interested). Mr. Levine writes:

Here's what the SEC says happened:

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Trump-Thiel Lawsuit Against NY Times

September 20, 2016 at 11:07 am

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The prospect that Donald Trump could launch a lawsuit against the New York Times, forcing the newspaper's management to disclose its communications with the Mexican billionaire who is the newspaper's largest financial backer, is the topic of my column this week. Please check it out at the New York Sun (here) and Newsmax (here).

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Eleven Reasons To Be Proud Of America

September 18, 2016 at 6:57 am

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"When Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton and New York Times columnist David Brooks both speak out about an issue, it's worth paying attention." So begins my latest column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Please check the full column out here.

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Hillary's Tax Plan

September 16, 2016 at 11:18 am

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Hillary Clinton's tax proposals are the topic of a not perfect, but nevertheless surprisingly excellent article by James B. Stewart in the New York Times. Highlights:

It's hard to imagine a tax code more complicated than the one we already have.

Hillary Clinton has come up with one....

all agreed that Mrs. Clinton's proposal would increase taxes on the rich and big business but that it would add so many new layers of complexity that it would, above all, be a huge boon for tax lawyers. "There's a lot of new complexity," said Mr. Burman ["director of the centrist Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and a professor at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.]...

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Trump, Carlos Slim, and the New York Times

September 15, 2016 at 4:12 pm

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Nicholas Kristof has a New York Times column about the responsibility of the press in this presidential campaign, writing, "I wonder if journalistic efforts at fairness don't risk normalizing Trump, without fully acknowledging what an abnormal candidate he is."

It's tentatively phrased, but it also dodges what in my mind are some key questions. If the press is going to stop trying to be fair, at what point in the campaign should that happen? Is an initial fairness phase required to determine objectively whether a candidate is worthy of fairness, after which, if the candidate is not deemed deserving of fair treatment, fairness (or "efforts at fairness") is then officially suspended? At what point in the game are readers let in on the news that a publication has suspended its efforts at fairness? Is a candidate able to petition to resume receiving fair treatment from journalists at any point? Or is it, once the press judges you "abnormal," no fairness, ever?

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Regulating Bacon Packaging

September 14, 2016 at 9:11 am

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The federal government has a rule about how supermarket bacon can be packaged, Bloomberg News reports:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates bacon and other meat products, spells it out like so: "Packages for sliced bacon that have a transparent opening shall be designed to expose, for viewing, the cut surface of a representative slice...for shingle-packed sliced bacon, the transparent window shall be designed to reveal at least 70 percent of the length (longest dimension) of the representative slice, and this window shall be at least 1-1/2 inches wide."

That regulation went into effect in 1973.

It's a fine little example of how deep is the federal government's reach into obscure and mundane aspects of the daily lives of Americans and the economy, and of how (as is often the case) the Nixon administration is to blame.

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Biden Takes Taxpayers For a Ride With Amtrak Subsidy

September 13, 2016 at 8:44 pm

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The recently announced $2.45 billion federal loan to Amtrak to pay for new Acela trains is the subject of my column this week. Please check the column out at the New York Sun (here), New Boston Post (here), Newsmax (here), and Reason (here).

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The Obama Legacy

September 11, 2016 at 8:05 pm

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The Washington Examiner has a video on the Obama Legacy featuring Tim Carney, Philip Klein, and Reuel Marc Gerecht, all three of whom are pretty sharp. They aren't big fans of Obama, to put it mildly, and say some of what he has done will be hard to undo.

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September 11

September 11, 2016 at 1:24 pm

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The 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is the topic of my column in the Sunday Las Vegas Review-Journal, which runs under the headline, "Is this what winning looks like?" Please check the column out by clicking here.

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Hillary Clinton on Missile Defense

September 9, 2016 at 3:38 pm

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From Hillary Clinton's official statement on North Korea's latest nuclear test: "we must strengthen defense cooperation with our allies in the region; South Korea and Japan are critical to our missile defense system, which will protect us against a North Korean missile."

North Korean missiles are a bit far afield from our usual subject matter here, but what was striking to me, as someone who has been following the missile defense political debate since the 1980s, is that the Democratic candidate now acknowledges that a "missile defense system" will work well enough to "protect us" against a nuclear attack by North Korea.

Now, I know what the response will be — that left-wing skepticism of "Star Wars" in the Reagan era pertained not to land- or sea-based missile defense systems but to space-based systems, or that stopping one or two missiles from North Korea is a whole different thing from trying to stop thousands of them launched all at once from the Soviet Union or its submarines.

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Buffett Does The Robert Rubin Dance on Wells Fargo

September 9, 2016 at 8:20 am

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The Robert Rubin dance – featuring the ability to walk through a pouring rainstorm and not get wet — is being danced by Warren Buffett in connection with his investment in Wells Fargo, with a big assist from the mainstream media.

Consider that Wells Fargo agreed to pay a $185 million fine and said it had terminated "roughly 5,300 employees" in connection with opening about 2 million accounts that customers never asked for. Consider, too, that Warren Buffett's personal 2 million share stake of Wells Fargo and Berkshire Hathaway's 9.45% stake together, as recently as this summer, amounted to more than a 10% stake in the bank, making the Buffett/Berkshire combo by far the largest investor.

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Norman Podhoretz on Trump

September 8, 2016 at 8:56 am

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The Times of Israel has a somewhat Israel-centric interview with Norman Podhoretz in which he lays out his view of the presidential race: "I describe myself as anti-anti Trump. While I have no great admiration for him, to put it mildly, I think she's worse. Between the two, he's the lesser evil." Worth a look for anyone interested in sorting out the twists and turns of the neoconservative anti-Trump or #NeverTrump intrafamily disputes.

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Minimum Wage Increases Get Results

September 6, 2016 at 8:37 am

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McDonald's is testing "self-ordering touchscreens" at about 250 U.S. locations, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. A similar move by McDonald's in Europe, where labor costs and regulations are already high, was the subject of an earlier post here a few years back.

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JFK and the Reagan Revolution

September 6, 2016 at 8:21 am

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The new book by Lawrence Kudlow and Brian Domitrovic, JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity, is the topic of my column this week. Please check the column out at the New York Sun (here), Reason (here), and Newsmax (here).

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On Immigration, Trump Is No GOP Outlier

September 4, 2016 at 9:22 pm

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Two books coming out this month – Jonathan Tepperman's The Fix: How Nations Survive And Thrive In A World in Decline and Edward Conard's The Upside of Inequality: How Good Intentions Undermine The Middle Class — get mentions in my Las Vegas Review Journal column this week, which is a reaction to Donald Trump's immigration speech. Please read the whole column by clicking here.

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