News Dump of the Day: Part the 3rd

According to CNN, Attorney General Jeff Sessions failed to disclose his contacts with Ambassador Kislyak on his Security Form (SF) 86.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings he had last year with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance, the Justice Department told CNN Wednesday.

Sessions, who met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least two times last year, didn’t note those interactions on the form, which requires him to list “any contact” he or his family had with a “foreign government” or its “representatives” over the past seven years, officials said.
Sessions initially listed a year’s worth of meetings with foreign officials on the security clearance form, according to Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores. But she says he and his staff were then told by an FBI employee who assisted in filling out the form, known as the SF-86, that he didn’t need to list dozens of meetings with foreign ambassadors that happened in his capacity as a senator.
After CNN’s story published, a spokesman responded to the reporting with a statement, saying that Sessions was instructed not to list meetings like the ones with Kislyak on his form.
“As a United States Senator, the Attorney General met hundreds — if not thousands — of foreign dignitaries and their staff,” spokesman Ian Prior said. “In filling out the SF-86 form, the Attorney General’s staff consulted with those familiar with the process, as well as the FBI investigator handling the background check, and was instructed not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities.”

Here’s a link to a blank SF 86 below the fold/after the jump. Here’s what the bottom of page 121 looks like:

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Don’t boss him, don’t cross him, he’s wild in his sorrow

Holy shit. The piece of shit Republican, Greg Gianforte, who is running in tomorrow’s special election in Montana attacked a reporter for politely asking questions about TrumpCare.

He’s going to be that much more upset when he loses tomorrow.








Blabbermouth Trump Blabs Out More Classified Info

Remember a long time ago when blabbermouth Trump invited the Russians who jacked our election into the Oval Office and blabbed about “code-word” intel? Yeah, that was last week.

Then this week, he made matters worse by confirming that the source of the intel was Israel while scolding the media about saying he said it was Israel, which they had not said. God, what a dumbass.

As a result, Israeli officials are allegedly changing the way they share classified info with the US. They say their cooperation with the US is “unprecedented,” but they would say that since we dump bales of cash on them every year. But common sense says they’ll give blabbermouth less to blab about if they don’t want more sources torched.

Now US sources — probably via Trump and his entourage again, because we know he’s a blabbermouth — caught UK officials by surprise by prematurely releasing info on the Manchester bombing. Via the Guardian:

American officials in Washington briefed US journalists early on Tuesday about the number of dead, confirming that it was a suicide bombing and – hours later – the name of the killer. The UK had not been planning to release the name on Tuesday.

The UK’s reluctance to identify the assailant was evident because it took hours after his name was circulating in the US media before Greater Manchester police confirmed it.

One of the basic tenets of intelligence sharing is that other agencies do not disclose it. The problem is that those intelligence agencies, whether American or French, pass it up to their presidents, prime ministers and departmental ministers. In the past, that secrecy was respected.

After the leaks, it could be tempting for UK police and intelligence services to stop sharing sensitive information, although Britain relies heavily on the US sharing its intelligence and benefits from intelligence, especially on counter-terrorism, from European colleagues such as France and Germany.

And now someone from the Filipino government <del> at the Trump White House </del> *released a transcript of a call between Trump and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, a nutcase who ordered the extrajudicial killing of thousands of Filipinos in that country’s “war on drugs” [NYT]. And guess what? Not only does Trump squee like a prepubescent girl at a Bieber concert about Duterte’s bloodthirsty antics, he reveals yet more classified information! Excerpts from the transcript:

TRUMP: l just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem. Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.

DUTERTE: Thank you, Mr President. This is the scourge of my nation now and have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation.

TRUMP: I understand that and fully understand that and I think we had a previous president who did not understand that, but I understand that and we have spoken about this before.

DUTERTE: Yes, I know that. Thank you. Yes.

Does Trump really admire Duterte’s murderous war on drugs? I doubt it. I’d bet money Trump has shoveled thousands of dollars up his own nostrils. But Duterte treated President Obama disrespectfully, so Trump thinks he’s a swell guy.

Now, on to the part where Trump spilled more secrets:

TRUMP: So how is everyone doing, how is the Philippines doing? [Jesus God! — Ed.]

DUTERTE: We are doing fine, Mr. President, but in the ASEAN summit, every member state was really nervous about the situation in the Korean peninsula, but we would like to tell you that we support you and keep on the pressure because as long as those rockets and warheads are in the hands of Kim Jong Un we will never be safe, as there’s no telling what will happen next.

TRUMP: What’s your opinion of (Kim), Rodrigo? Are we dealing with someone who is stable or not stable?

DUTERTE: He is not stable, Mr. President, as he keeps on smiling when he explodes a rocket. He even has gone against China, which is the last country he should rebuke. But it seems from his face — he is laughing always and there is a dangerous toy in his hands which could create so much agony and suffering for all mankind.

TRUMP: Well, he has got the powder but he doesn’t have the delivery system. All his rockets are crashing. That’s the good news. But eventually when he gets that delivery system… What do you think about China? Does China have power over him?

DUTERTE: Yes, at the end of the day, the last card, the ace has to be with China. It’s only China. He is playing with his bombs, his toys and from the looks of it, his mind is not working well and he might just go crazy one moment. China should make a last ditch effort to tell him to lay off. China will play a very important role there.

TRUMP: We have a lot of firepower over there. We have two submarines — the best in the world — not that we want to use them at all. I’ve never seen anything like they are but we don’t have to use this but he could be crazy so we will see what happens.

So basically, two lunatics are discussing the stability of a third lunatic, but only one of the lunatics is blabbing state secrets such as the location of submarines, and he’s our dumb fucking President Lunatic.

Can you imagine this buffoon keeping an operation like the bin Laden raid under wraps? Trump’s big fat mouth is going to get a lot of people killed. It’s only a matter of time.

*Thanks to all three dozen who emailed about this correction!



Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Class Tells, When There Is No Class


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Old Esquire tag line: Why is this man smiling?
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News Dump Comes Early Today

This is going to be a quick post. Between noticing earlier that some of my cactuses are in bloom

and heading up to Los Alamos tonight to meet Ray Monk, who has written a biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, I want to post some early questions about the revelation that the FBI had a possibly fraudulent document, possibly Russian, that caused James Comey to make his July announcement last year. I have the feeling that I am missing some things and have many questions. Some are unlikely to be answered any time soon, but others may be due to my confusion and hurry. Read more



CBO on the AHCA

This will be a running and updated post on the cost estimates of the AHCA by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT)

17:20 TLDR It is about the same bill that got scored in March with marginal changes. CBO does not think MacArthur/Upton will have large net effects

16:22 The JCT estimates the bill that passed the House has a $662 billion dollar tax cut over the scoring window.

16:30 The March 23, 2017 CBO score is here. This was the managers amendment leading into the week of the first vote window which got pulled. It does not include everything that was in the bill before it got pulled.

The baseline is -24 million incrementally not insured for a total 52 million people without insurance and $150 billion in total deficit reduction.

16:33 Here it is

16:34$120 billion in deficit reduction, donut plans will be purchased, slightly more people covered

In addition, the agencies expect that some people would use the tax credits authorized by the
act to purchase policies that would not cover major medical risks and that are not counted
as insurance in this cost estimate.

1635 Read more








Incentives from caps in Medicaid

I was on a webinar this afternoon listening to analysis and “analysis” of the Medicaid proposals in the AHCA. One of the things that I wish they brought up was the incentives that a cap structure gives state Medicaid directors to severely limit care that patients with outlying care requirements can receive. Let’s assume that the incentives for state Medicaid directors is to do as much good for as many people as they can given the state budget constraint with a weaker objective of minimizing how many times and how loudly they get yelled at.

Let’s take the $12,000,000 member in Iowa and assume s/he is on Medicaid instead of an Exchange plan.

Currently, if s/he receives an additional dollar of Medicaid spending to finance care, the state pays $0.42 and the Federal government pays $0.58 if s/he is Legacy qualified or the state pays a nickel and the feds pay $0.95. There is a very loose constraint on spending based on Iowa’s state budget but the spending is leveraged through the federal match rate.

Under a cap system, an extreme outlier does not bring in any additional federal funding. Any incremental dollars spent on an individual with extremely costly needs will be originating from only state level funds. Outlier funding is tough as it would be explicitly moving money from dozens or hundreds or thousands of people to spend it on one or two extremely expensive to care for people.

The state director’s incentive is to severely limit outlier spending. That could be done by eliminating coverage of certain classes of care. It could be done by instituting annual or life time caps. In both cases the societal response is to either let people bankrupt themselves and die or shift the cost of care to the hospital and doctors in the form of noncollectable debt instead of spreading the costs to society in the form of taxes.

In each major eligibility category, there is a spread of spending. Some people in the Aged&Disabled category are far more expensive to cover than others even if the absolute average spending is high. Some kids are more expensive than others to cover. The incentive under a capped system of funding where all outlier costs are borne by the state government is to aggressively reduce outlier costs even if those costs are efficient, effective and medically necessary.








Fox News Trifecta? (Open Thread)

As you’ve probably heard, Trump toady Sean Hannity has been shamelessly exploiting the tragic death of DNC staffer Seth Rich to distract folks from the RussiaGate scandal that is engulfing Trump’s administration. Fox News went along for a while. But as it became increasingly clear that the story is an absurd conspiracy theory propagated by disreputable louts, even Fox News retracted it:

On May 16, a story was posted on the Fox News website on the investigation into the 2016 murder of DNC Staffer Seth Rich. The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed.

We will continue to investigate this story and will provide updates as warranted.

Hannity kept beating the drum on his show, despite the Rich family’s direct appeal to his producer to stop exploiting their dead son. Last night, Hannity was supposed to reveal “game-changing” information from known fraudster Kim Dotcom. He even teased it by retweeting this deeply idiotic cartoon tweeted by the fraudster himself:

But according to the WaPo story linked above, Kim Dotcom tried to access the late Mr. Rich’s Gmail account to plant fake evidence this week but was rebuffed. So, no big reveal on the Hannity show. Instead, Hannity pretended to grow a conscience and drop the matter “out of respect for the family’s wishes.” But to satisfy his mouth-breather audience, he hinted on Twitter that he’s still pursuing the story:

My guess is that, in addition to the Dotcom bust, the network’s lawyers told him to STFU. Right now, #FireHannity is trending on Twitter, and Hannity is bellowing like a ruptured bull about his persecution by Soros-Hillary-Satan:

MediaMatters has a handy list of Hannity’s advertisers here. I don’t know if Hannity is in any real danger. He’s probably screaming at the top of his lungs about being silenced to save face after being taken in by a known bullshit artist. But it would be cool if he got shit-canned right after O’Reilly was kicked to the curb and Ailes croaked.

Anyhoo. Open thread!



Open Thread for All Purpose Assholery

Stay out of the fucking thread below.








Help Me With My Music Library

I spent the last month importing every single CD I own. I imported it all to a LaCie external drive.

I opened Itunes today, and it “organized” my external hd and 90% of my music is gone. Here is what I need besides a hockey puck sized sedative and a box of kleenex.

All I fucking want is to import all of my music in .aiff to my LaCie external hd. Then, once it is all there, I want to be able to make sure it can not be deleted, and I can create playlists for my iphone.

That is it. That is all I want. I am reformatting my LaCie, I am deleting everything with my MusicMonkey Pro and doing a fresh install, and I am doing the same with itunes. I am on a Windows PC running Win10 64 bit, and I have a macbook pro as well.

I want point by point instructions. If I need another application, let me know. I will give you my god damned phone number so you can walk me through this. I am ready to fucking break shit.

*** Update ***

Also, I am in a pretty fucking volatile mood right about now so if you have nothing to offer other than “that sucks” or “buy a radio” this is not the goddamned cocksucking thread for you or your shitfuckery.








Advice From A Former President

This is excellent.

Open thread!








Open Thread

Looks like time for a new thread.

Have at it!

ETA: I wish I was still living in Colorado. I’d have taken off today and gone to setup a campsite for a few days and then head back home for the night with fresh trout for dinner.  We would drive the hour after work, and this would have been our Friday evening view (minus the pop-up, I use tent and cots for back reasons). And crawdads so tasty, those mountain lakes deliver!








Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Another Battle Begins

(Jeff Danziger’s website)
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As if Lord Smallgloves could tell you what was in “his” budget… Greg Sargent, in the Washington Post, “Even some Republicans balk at Trump’s plan for steep budget cuts”:

While some fiscally conservative lawmakers, particularly in the House, found a lot to praise in Trump’s plan to balance the budget within 10 years, most Republicans flatly rejected the White House proposal. The divide sets up a clash between House conservatives and a growing number of Senate Republicans who would rather work with Democrats on a spending deal than entertain Trump’s deep cuts.

“This is kind of the game,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.). “We know that the president’s budget won’t pass as proposed.”

Instead, Cornyn said he believes conversations are already underway about how Republicans can negotiate with Democrats to avoid across-the-board spending cuts that are scheduled to go into effect in October. Those talks could include broad spending increases for domestic and military programs that break from Trump’s plan for deep cuts in education, housing, research and health care…

Budget experts questioned many of the economic assumptions that the White House put into its plan, saying it was preposterous to claim that massive tax cuts and spending reductions will lead to a surge in economic growth…

“Even some Republicans” plan on a political career that lasts beyond the next election — maybe even one that doesn’t involve people spitting on them in the street. This ain’t a budget proposal, it’s a new chapter in a cultists’ holy book. Or a performance-art script for grifters hoping to massage the plutocrats’ greed glands…



California single payer

California is studying a single payer system. It is doing the homework to make explicit the assumptions that are needed to make the system work. Modern Healthcare has some details:

SB562 would guarantee health coverage with no out-of-pocket costs for all California residents, including people living in the country illegally. The state would contract with hospitals, doctors and other healthcare providers and pay the bills for all residents similar to the way the federal government covers seniors through Medicare.

The measure envisions using all public money spent on healthcare — from Medicare, Medicaid, federal public health funds and “Obamacare” subsidies. That’s enough to cover about half of the $400 billion cost, according to the legislative analysis.

The rest would come from higher taxes on businesses, residents or both. It would take a 15% payroll tax to raise enough money, the analysis said.

Matt Bruenig makes one very good point before I want to look at some details:

After the implementation of single payer, the report says, health expenditures in the state of California would total $400 billion per year, or 15 percent of the state’s GDP. This is 3 percentage points lower than the share of GDP the US overall spends on health care.

I have a couple of questions about the finances.

Does the analysis assume or not assume the AHCA will be passed? If it does not assume the AHCA, there is a potential $10 billion Medicaid annual gap in the financing. More importantly it is assuming some incredibly complex and currently not authorized in law much less by rule making waivers.

What happens when there is a recession? California has a balance budget constraint. Wage and capital gains income taxes tend to be pro-cyclical. They go up in good times and crash in bad times. How is this program financed in bad years?

Finally, we need to look at the distributional fight inherent within universal access programs. Single payer is exceptional for the fifty two year old making $11 an hour with either no benefits or Bronze level benefits. It is not as good of a deal for a twenty nine year old independent contractor making $39,000 a year who has a cheap policy in the individual market. It is a really bad deal for the mid-40s couple making $200,000 with exceptional coverage through work.

The American political system is most responsive to people who have a lot to lose, people who have power and people who can mobilize significant resources. In this case, that is an apt set of descriptors for the mid-40s couple making very good money.

Single payer is hard. California is trying to make explicit the trade-offs needed to get a single payer system off the ground. There are choices to be made with winners and losers from each choice made. And each set of people whose current situation is changed for the worse will scream.

Update 1 And oh yeah, how does this play nicely with ERISA, the controlling law on most employer sponsored benefits including health insurance?



On The Road

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Balloon Juicers who are on the road, travelling, etc. and wish to share notes, links, pictures, stories, etc. from their escapades. As the US mainland begins the end of the Earth day as we measure it, many of us rise to read about our friends and their transient locales.

So, please, speak up and share some of your adventures, observations, and sights as you explore, no matter where you are. By concentrating travel updates here, it’s easier for all to keep up-to-date on the adventures of our fellow Commentariat. And it makes finding some travel tips or ideas from 6 months ago so much easier to find…

Have at ’em, and have a safe day of travels!

Should you have any pictures (tasteful, relevant, etc….) you can email them to picstopost@balloon-juice.com or just use this nifty link to start an email: Start an Email to send a Picture to Post on Balloon Juice

Just a few for hump-day. I’ve been working so much on site and related stuff, I didn’t have the time I had hoped for tonight. Forgive me, will make it up tomorrow! But I trust that these pictures will suffice – the wow factor is high.

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