Well, This is Fucking Insane

This is every bit as bad as defaulting and then some:

One day after assuring Americans he is not running for president “to make things unstable for the country,” the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, said in a television interview Thursday that he might seek to reduce the national debt by persuading creditors to accept something less than full payment.

Asked whether the United States needed to pay its debts in full, or whether he could negotiate a partial repayment, Mr. Trump told the cable network CNBC, “I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal.”

He added, “And if the economy was good, it was good. So, therefore, you can’t lose.”

Such remarks by a major presidential candidate have no modern precedent. The United States government is able to borrow money at very low interest rates because Treasury securities are regarded as a safe investment, and any cracks in investor confidence have a long history of costing American taxpayers a lot of money.

Experts also described Mr. Trump’s vaguely sketched proposal as fanciful, saying there was no reason to think America’s creditors would accept anything less than 100 cents on the dollar, regardless of Mr. Trump’s deal-making prowess.

“No one on the other side would pick up the phone if the secretary of the U.S. Treasury tried to make that call,” said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP. “Why should they? They have a contract” requiring payment in full.

This jackass actually thinks defaulting on the US Debt would work just like arbitration after a bankruptcy where bond holders would settle for pennies on the dollar. The US is basically the fucking Lannisters of the world, and as we all know, a Lannister always pays his debts. That’s why the American dollar IS the gold standard. And what no one wants to talk about is that if this gets interrupted, every single pension, investment, and what not owned by an American is essentially worthless.

We’re so fucked if this lunatic wins.

One Small Point of Disagreement

DougJ wrote earlier:

If I were a conservative, I’d be pretty fucking scared by the fact that, not only do young people vote overwhelming Democratic in general elections, they also just voted overwhelmingly for a Democratic socialist in the primary.

They are too stupid to recognize it, but they should actually be overjoyed by this. It means that when these conservatives are elderly, they will probably be treated far more compassionately than the conservatives have been treating the poor.

Clinton Launches Animal Protection Campaign Page

Kudos to Hillary Clinton for launching an official page on Protecting Animals and Wildlife. It’s short on specifics (the very thing Clintonistas like to rap Sanders for), and the free trade policies she’s enamored of directly undermine environmentalism and animal welfare in many ways, including:

  • supporting fracking
  • allowing imports of unsustainably produced meat (e.g., from burned rainforests), and
  • allowing U.S. agribusinesses to set up slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants in countries with weak or no animal welfare (and labor protection) laws.

Still, it’s a welcome development – and she hits many good notes, including protection for farmed animals and ending horse slaughter.

Sanders had a pro-animal page much earlier – although not on his official campaign site.

Huge kudos to my fellow animal activists for their decades of hard work that has brought, and is continuing to bring, animal issues more and more into the mainstream. Because animal welfare = human welfare = eco welfare, we all benefit.

Well I know I had it coming

There’s a great Vox interview with Norman Ornstein about the Trumpocalypse:

But if you forced me to pick one factor explaining what’s happened, I would say this is a self-inflicted wound by Republican leaders.

Over many years, they’ve adopted strategies that have trivialized and delegitimized government. They were willing to play to a nativist element. And they tried to use, instead of stand up to, the apocalyptic visions and extremism of some cable television, talk radio, and other media outlets on the right.

I doubt though that Republicans will pay much of a price for this, at least in the short term. Yes, Trump will probably lose and Democrats will do better in the House and Senate than they otherwise would have. But they’ll find a way to obstruct most of what Hillary wants to do, and they’ll probably do okay in the 2018 midterms by attacking Hillary the same way they’ve attacked Obama.

It’s likely that the Republican strategy is suicide long-term. If I were a conservative, I’d be pretty fucking scared by the fact that, not only do young people vote overwhelming Democratic in general elections, they also just voted overwhelmingly for a Democratic socialist in the primary.

But that’s probably not Mitch McConnell’s or Paul Ryan’s or Reince Preibus’ problem. They’ll be gone out of the water by the time it boils.

Of Course He Knew

Sainthood further denied:

[O]ne of Penn State’s insurers has claimed “in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU’s Head Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky.”

The order also cites separate references in 1987 and 1988 in which unnamed assistant coaches witnessed inappropriate contact between Sandusky and unidentified children, and a 1988 case that was supposedly referred to Penn State’s athletic director at the time.

I realize this is thin: “claimed”, “alleged” — however, Sandusky was on Paterno’s staff from 1969 to 1999. He has been convicted of molesting children between 1994 and 2008. According to the Freeh report, Paterno knew from 1998 on that Sandusky was a child molester. So, it’s not a major leap of faith to assume that Paterno knew long before then that something was up with Sandusky.

Trump Veepstakes

Well, I was totally wrong about who would win the Republican nomination. Now let’s see how wrong I can be about who Trump will select as VP!

My guess is that Trump will choose FL Attorney General Pam Bondi. He has to win Florida to have a prayer of winning the election, and he has to do something about his abysmal ratings with women, or he’s toast. Bondi is a woman, and Trump is sexist knob enough to believe one vagina cancels out another, just as McCain thought La Palin would lure Hillary supporters.

Bondi was an early Trump endorser. She serves in the administration of Florida Governor Rick Scott, so she clearly doesn’t have any problem working with skeevy con men. She allegedly did Trump a solid by failing to prosecute Trump University for swindling gullible Floridians, and three days later, Trump cut a $25K check to Bondi’s reelection campaign, so they’ve already expressed a grift-affinity.

Before she went full-metal wingnut, Bondi was an assistant state attorney in Hillsborough County (home of Tampa), where she served as a spokeswoman for the office and was a media favorite. She’s good on TV, unlike Rick Scott, who is the worst retail campaigner, public speaker and debater I’ve ever personally seen.

Bondi would add some wingnut cred to the Trump campaign, but not too much. Like Trump, she’s had to straddle the line, appeasing the hardcore wingnut contingent in Florida on the one hand while not pursuing so-con issues so vigorously as to alienate the Club for Growth types. But in general, hardcore wingnuts like her.

It also doesn’t hurt that Bondi looks as if she could have been stamped from the Trump female entourage member mold, i.e., carved out of cream cheese with long blond hair. I’ll be surprised if he chooses someone else.

What say you?

Humana, scale and admin costs

Charles Gaba has a round-up of the  states where Humana  is pulling out of the individual markets in some states:

There are a fewof points to make.  The biggest loss is in Alabama as that is down to a single issuer state.  Situations like this is when a public option would have been extremely valuable as a means of keeping an insurer honest.

Next, excluding Alabama, most of the policies being terminated are either off-Exchange or grandmothered/grandfathered policies that were never ACA compliant.  The transitional plans were either live before PPACA was signed or sold between 2010 and 2013 and their lives extended as part of the “If you like it, you keep it” tempest in a teapot.

The final point is that size matters.

Being an insurer covering only a couple thousand lives on a commercial market with strict MLR restrictions is tough.

I quipped on Twitter last night that if I worked for Humana in my old position where I had QHP compliance responsibilities, my salary would have eaten up a decent fraction of the allowable administrative costs in a few states.  My work in my previous position minimally scaled with enrollment.  Large membership pools spread my costs out from being dollars per member per month (PMPM) to nickels PMPM as I had to do roughly the same amount of work to get a new plan approved that we sold to seven members or an approved plan that we sold to 72,000 members.  This is especially true on the grandfathered and grandmothered policies that Humana is phasing out as those policies have lower premiums because the people are healthier as they were medically underwritten out of the general pool and into the grandparent policies.  Compliance costs including future plan year qualification costs for Humana in Kansas and Virginia would have been very high as a proportion of total revenue.

Alabama is the bad news from a policy perspective.  Everything else is effectively background noise.  The important questions is what does Humana do in the states where they have significant membership (excluding Alabama).  If they stay in most of those states while cutting lose states with under 10,000 members then this is a mild course change.  If they pull out of states where they have 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 or more members than that news is far more valuable and disturbing.

Friday Morning Open Thread: Simply Irresistable

From the Politico article:

Not to worry, says Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer: There’s no crisis in the GOP.

Speaking after Paul Ryan stunned the political world on Thursday by saying he wasn’t ready to back Donald Trump — and Trump shot back that he wouldn’t support Ryan’s agenda — Spicer said Republicans have “plenty of time” to unify their party, as many were anticipating the fight for the nomination to last longer.

Ryan and Trump will meet sometime next week, he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer…. When Blitzer asked which of the two men would change, Spicer said: “It’s not a question about changing. It’s a question about understanding.”

Blitzer asked if Trump would have to drop his proposals to ban Muslims from entering the country and deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

“That’s not what the speaker said. And I don’t think you’re going to have a question of ‘You give up this.’ It’s not a question of compromising. It’s a question of understanding,” Spicer reiterated.

Blitzer also asked who Republicans should consider the leader of their party: Ryan or Trump.

“It’s not an ‘either or,'” Spicer said, though Trump is “the largest voice out there.”

When asked about George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain skipping the GOP convention, Spicer said: “At the end of the day, this is what happens.”

Good eye, Ms. Haberman.

Apart from schadenfreude (so much more healthful than Reince Priebus’ Baileys-over-cereal breakfast), what’s on the agenda as we wrap up another nutballs-to-the-walls week?

Late Night Open Thread: Glassbowl’s Taco Bowl

Thursday Night Open Thread: Let’s You and Them Fight!

As a famous Republican strategist would say: Let. Us. Savor…

Any chance Trump will actually offer Sean Hannity his VP ticket, or is that a dream too far for us luzers & haterz?

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Feel the Webbmentum

This would not surprise me:

Retired Dr. Ben Carson told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that he doesn’t want to be the running mate on the ticket with Donald Trump, the GOP’s presumptive nominee—but that Democrats could be under consideration for the vice presidential slot.

The newspaper reported that Carson suggested that a Democrat could be considered for the role and that he doesn’t want any part of it.

“I’m not interested in doing that for a number of reasons,” Carson told the publication. “I don’t want to be a distraction. I’m sure you remember how crazy the media was about me, I don’t want to be a distraction, it’s too important a time in our life.”

Jim Webb is self-absorbed enough and filled with enough Scotts-Irish working class white guy ressentiment that he would do it in a heartbeat.

Pet Rescue Help Bleg – Loki

loki givingforward

From commentor Manyakitty, a link to her friend’s GiveForward page:

On Friday, April 29th, my friend bought a hydrangea from Trader Joe. There was no warning about potential toxicity to children or pets. Her 2.5 year old cat, Loki, nibbled the edge of a leaf that night. Loki is now struggling to survive. He is suffering from suspected cyanide family poisoning (as Cyanogenic glycoside is found in hydrangeas), and grayanotoxin poisoning (a neurotoxin usually found in rhododendrons)…

“The doctors believe the hydrangea was either cross-bred or cross-pollinated with a plant in the rhododendron family, and that is why Loki is struggling to survive. They did not expect him to survive beyond 24 hours. It has been almost 5 days now, and Loki is still fighting hard for his life. We are doing everything we can to support him. He is 100% blind and deaf from the poisons. He has a significantly diminished sense of smell. His balance is compromised, and he has a drop paw and a limp leg. His heart rate shot up to 220bpm, but it’s back down to a normal 160 now.

We have taken Loki to the doctor three times already for blood work, testing, subcutaneous fluids, and activated charcoal treatments. We are taking him back to the vet tomorrow, and several more times to check his kidney function and hopefully keep him out of renal failure.

Initially, Loki could not eat or drink on his own. Now he can! Initially, Loki was dying. He is now stable! We have a lot of treatments ahead of us to monitor his condition. Also, our local vets are unsure if his neurological deficits are permanent, so we are taking Loki to see a feline neurologist in Fort Pierce. Her examination will determine our next steps, but we hope she can suggest therapies to accelerate his recovery.

Our hearts are breaking for Loki. It is so hard to see him like this, yet his spirit continues to impress us. We are hopeful that with the best care possible, and time, our little kitty will rebound. He has an indomitable spirit. He is fighting. And we are all rallying around our baby. Go, Loki, Go!! We love you so much!”

Again, the link is here if you need more information.

Thursday Afternoon Open Thread (Updated)

Here’s a reminder to keep Thor in Thursday:


Open thread!

ETA: Commenter Keith P mentioned this tweet from Trump in comments below. I thought he was joking, but nope, it’s real:

Holy mole.

Drowning Reaganism in a Bathtub (Water Courtesy of Flint, MI)

In the morning thread, valued commenter Rikyrah highlighted comments President Obama made yesterday in Flint, Michigan (full transcript here):

It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how responsible you are, how you raise your kids. You can’t set up a whole water system for a city. That’s not something you do by yourself. You do it with other people. You can’t hire your own fire department or your own police force, or your own army. They’re things we have to do together. Basic things that we all benefit from.

Volunteers don’t build water systems and keep lead from leaching into our drinking glasses. We can’t rely on faith groups to reinforce bridges and repave runways at the airport. We can’t ask second graders, even ones as patriotic as Isiah Britt, who raised all that money, to raise enough money to keep our kids healthy. You hear a lot about government overreach. Oh, Obama, he’s for big government. Listen, it’s not government overreach to say our government’s responsible for making sure that you can wash your hands in your own sink, or shower in your own home, or cook for your family. These are the most basic services. There’s no more basic element sustaining human life than water. It’s not too much to expect for all Americans that their water is going to be safe.

This is a theme every Democrat should take up and champion, from Hillary Clinton on down to the lowliest city council candidate in Lizarddick, New Mexico. The situation in Flint is a great illustration of this principle — of the disaster that results from putting balance sheet-focused MBAs with no remit other than slashing costs in charge of public assets.

There’s an example in every single community in America of a facility, infrastructure asset or service citizens banded together and built for the public good — something that’s now falling apart because the cheap bastards in the GOP would rather shovel tax cuts to Donald Trump. It’s a disgrace.

I love what Obama said above because it implicitly calls out Reagan’s “government is the problem” bullshit. It wasn’t over-regulation that poisoned Flint’s water. It wasn’t government overreach that dug the pothole that bashed the undercarriage of your car. It isn’t anti-business bureaucrats who make driving over crumbling bridges a life-or-death adventure.

In a widely misunderstood remark he made during the 2008 primaries, then-candidate Obama said he aspired to have a presidency as truly consequential as Reagan’s. I think history will say he has. And he could have no better legacy than inspiring his party to drown Reaganism in a bathtub and embrace the truth that the government is us.

Trump-proofing the Republican nomination process in the future

This post is speculation. It assumes that Trump will lose and lose big in November and that the Republican establishment as defined by a variety of rules committees has the power and the will to institute changes to the Republican primary process to Trump-proof the process.

The easiest way for the Republican Party to Trump-proof itself is to stop lying to its supporters. The Republican Party elite is fundamentally not trustworthy to its base voters. The core example is the promise that a Republican House and a Republican Senate could force President Obama to unwind PPACA while he sat in the White House. That was not going to happen. Trustworthy elites won’t happen as there is too much money to be made from fleecing the rubes. Once we take policy honesty off the table, rule changes are the next step.

Trump is the delegate leader (and presumptive delegate majority holder once the process plays out) with a low proportion of the total vote.

He benefited from a split field and a rules system that allowed factional plurality leaders to amass delegate strength out of proportion to their actual vote counts. Winner take all elections with more than two candidates have this common failure. There were two sets of winner take all elections in this current Republican primary. The first was state level delegates where the winner of a state received a significant bonus number of delegates and then winner take all at the Congressional District level. The Republicans assigned three delegates to each Congressional District without regard to how many Republicans actually lived or voted in that district.

538 has a good example of how this flat allocation of winner take all delegates by district helped Trump:

If Ted Cruz wins by a huge margin in Milwaukee’s suburbs, as expected tonight, he’ll get all three delegates from Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District, which cast 257,017 votes for Mitt Romney in the 2012 general election. But in two weeks, Donald Trump could capture just as many delegates by winning a majority of the vote in New York’s heavily Latino, Bronx-based 15th Congressional District, which cast only 5,315 votes for Romney four years ago.

Three weeks ago, Trump won three times as many delegates — nine — at the Northern Mariana Islands convention, which drew just 471 participants.

This is problem #1. The GOP primary delegation process favors plurality winners and it favors candidates who can win in very low turnout environments. There is a massive variance between the minimum number of votes needed per delegate and the maximum number of votes needed per delegate. Some districts are extremely efficient and some are extremely inefficient places to win. The Republicans treat districts like the Senate treats states. The first rule change would be to scale the delegate award to some measure of Republican vote strength.

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