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?



Open Thread: On the Delicate Honor of Donald Trump, and His Most Fervent Supporters

I always enjoy Julia Ioffe’s journalism for her deadpan Sancho Panza/Twelve Chairs wit. When I read she was being twitter-mobbed by antisemitic Trump followers, I assumed their grievance would be associated with her latest Foreign Policy article, “On Trump, Gefilte Fish, and World Order”:

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I was eating my mother’s gefilte fish while watching Donald Trump’s foreign-policy address Wednesday afternoon. First, it was lunchtime; second, it is Passover; and third, the fish patties in front of me — an amalgam of lots of different ingredients (porgy, rockfish, matzo meal) that, mashed together, resemble nothing immediately recognizable as naturally occurring food — couldn’t help but echo the strange consistency of the policy combinations Trump put forward.

Punctuating his carefully scripted speech with Trumpian bursts of “believe me” and “very bad” — consider them bright bits of rhetorical magenta horseradish — Trump set out his vision of America in the world: America first, but America everywhere. America cutting down on its debt, but also expanding its standing army and revamping its nuclear arsenal. America standing up to China, but also striking an alliance with it. America supporting its allies, but also cracking down on them. America being restrained and judicious in its use of force, but also getting involved militarily and fighting to win…

Should’ve known better; the piece that so offended Der Trumpfuhrer’s fans was an apparently anodyne GQ profile of the woman a Stormfront blogger called “our Empress Melania”:

Back then, in 2005, it didn’t seem odd that she and Donald Trump would mark their happy occasion with the former president and First Lady, then a senator from New York. “When they went to our wedding, we were private citizens,” Melania reminds me. Just two private citizens getting hitched at the groom’s 126-room Florida palace. He in a tux; she in a $100,000 Dior dress that laborers’ hands had toiled upon for a legendary 550 hours, affixing 1,500 crystals—jewels fit for private citizens like them. A pair of ordinary people, really, uniting in matrimony in the presence of Rudy Giuliani and Kelly Ripa, as Billy Joel serenaded the couple and guests slurped caviar and Cristal in the shadow of a five-foot-tall Grand Marnier wedding cake.

Those were, in some ways, simpler times. But things change quickly—which is perhaps the enduring fact of Melania Trump’s entire improbable life—and when your husband works up a plan to make America great again, the very same Clintons you once smiled with on your wedding day can now become your family’s mortal enemies. And you can think, as Melania Trump says she does, that it’s no huge deal, really. “This is it, what it is,” Melania tells me. “It’s all business now; it’s nothing personal.”…
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In and out, churn modeling

I’m fascinated by churn and its implications right now.  I want to propose the skeleton of a bare-bones churn prediction model.  This will be incomplete and there will be some massive black boxes where an input and process will be assumed to have occurred without details.

Let us start with the simplest model with incredibly restrictive and unrealistic assumptions.  We will build towards complexity and veracity.

Let us assume that each individual on Exchange in Time 0 will stay on Exchange in Time 1.  Let us also assume that the initial selection in Time is “optimal”Let us also assume that there is only two companies so the decision is switch or stay. Let us also assume that there is a single product offered by each company. Let us assume the price offered for each product to each individual is constant and independent of the choices of other individuals in the market.   Let’s assume cost sharing is a function of total medical spending.  Let us also assume that the switch is frictionless.  Finally, let us assume that each individual is 100% certain about what their future period health costs will be.  The optimization problem we are trying to solve then is a cost minimization problem where the cost is premium plus cost sharing.

That gives us the following logic for each individual insured by Company A in Period 0:

 IF Total Cost A1 is less than Total Cost B1 then stay else switch.

This would be a completely unsticky market where everyone is buying on price alone as there is no insurance functionality.

That is not what we see.  This model is absurdly too simple.  Let’s start peeling back some assumptions.

Let’s assume that people have a probability distribution of future costs.  There is uncertainty.  That uncertainty is a function of not knowing if you will be hit by a bus in the first day of Time 1, there is uncertainty about if and when you will get diagnosed with cancer.   This is where the product changes from a discount club card to an insurance product as we begin to deal with future uncertainty.

So the decision process now becomes a bit more complex.

IF Premium A1+expected cost sharing A1 is less than Premium B1+expected cost sharing B1 then stay else switch

 Now how do we figure out what future costs could look like and the individual probability distribution is appropriate.

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Late Night Cheap Entertainment Open Thread: Southern Shade Is Thrown

Well, that was… counterproductive, would be my judgement. In case the comparison is as opaque for you as it was for me, the Washington Post explains “Tim Robbins’ Very Bad Take”:

… “After the Southern primaries,” he said, “you had called the election” — apparently referring to the media. “And who’s fooling who? Winning South Carolina in the Democratic primary is about as significant as winning Guam. No Democrat is going to win in the general election. Why do these victories have so much significance?”

This is a not-uncommon argument among supporters of Sanders. Yes, Hillary Clinton is winning. But she’s winning largely because she ran up big margins in Southern states. That, the argument goes, bodes poorly for the general, since those Southern states usually vote Republican.

This is a bad argument that borders on insulting.

First of all, South Carolina has a lot more people than Guam. Among the other bits of data one can point out about the 2016 Democratic primary is that Clinton has received far more votes than Sanders — 2.5 million more. Among those is a margin of about 175,000 more votes in the state of South Carolina, a margin that by itself is larger than the population of Guam…

As for the general election: Those of us who were paying attention in 2008 will remember that the same red-state critique was leveled at Barack Obama then. He was only really winning Southern states, Clinton’s supporters noted, which spelled doom for the general election… Read more



NC GOP “Bathroom Bill” Is A Steaming Load Of Crap

So North Carolina state Republican lawmakers called a special session of the General Assembly yesterday to stop Charlotte’s LGBTQ anti-discrimination law from going into effect on April 1, and it turns out it’s not just Charlotte’s ordinance they want to outlaw, but any real progressive change sought by cities and counties in the Tarheel State.

WBTV obtained a copy of the proposed bill, entitled “An Act to Provide for Single Sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom and Changing Facilities in Schools and Public Agencies and to Create Statewide Consistency in Regulation of Employment and Public Accommodations,” Tuesday night.

The legislation requires that multi-occupancy bathrooms be limited to just one gender, using anatomy and birth certificates as a guide and applies to executive branch agencies controlled by the Governor as well as Council of State members and the UNC System.

A provision in the five-page bill allows school districts to use single occupancy bathrooms to make accommodations for students in special circumstances.

DOCUMENT: Click here to read the full bill

In addition to the provisions of the bill seeking to repeal the bathroom-related portions of Charlotte’s non discrimination ordinance, the bill also addresses several workplace issues.

The second part of the bill is referred to as the Wage and Hour Act. Under the act, local governments would be prohibited from setting their own local minimum wage.

The next section of the bill seeks to declare that the regulation of discriminatory practices in employment is an issue of statewide concern and, as such, must be left to the General Assembly.

Finally, the last section of the bill is referred to as the Equal Access to Public Accommodations Act, which places issues of public accommodation in the jurisdiction of the General Assembly.

So in addition to killing Charlotte’s anti-discrimination law, with this stupid bigoted bathroom bill, the NC GOP is looking to undo all local anti-discrimination, minimum wage, labor protection and equal physical access laws. because smaller, more responsive government, right?

Which just proves again that Republicans don’t care about government that works, they care about government that punishes those people whenever possible so that they become somebody else’s problem.  The best part?  It’s a combination of “bathroom bill”, home rule elimination, and “workplace protection” bill all rolled into one steaming pile of toxic GOP diarrhea.

By the way, the bill passed the NC General Assembly overwhelmingly, 83-24, the NC Senate 32-0 (as all NC Senate Democrats walked out) and GOP Gov. Pat McCrory signed this travesty into law last night.  Total time on this legislation from start to finish: about 10 hours.

They had this ready to go, in order to steamroll any opposition to it and to prevent the kind of boycott backlash from building that Georgia is facing now over similar legislation.  Blindside the opposition and dare them to react.

It’ll be up to the courts now to get the ball rolling on this.

One big hurdle, which reportedly killed South Dakota’s bathroom bill: Banning trans students from using the school bathroom that comports to their gender identity could violate federal law, particularly Title IX. The Justice Department and Department of Education interpret the law not just to ban sex discrimination in federally funded schools, but also ban anti-trans discrimination. So by passing an anti-trans bathroom law, North Carolina could risk big federal funds for public schools.

And my home state is well on its way to a complete disaster.



Three ways in the House

Reading the Huffington Post, I saw this political bodice ripper and I still can’t figure out how to make the mechanics of the piece actually work in our shared reality:

Suddenly they realize, “holy shit, what if we could stop Donald Trump and keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House?”

So they run a moderate establishment Republican as a third-party candidate — 100 percent as a spoiler candidate. Worst case scenario oh, they prevent Donald Trump from winning the White House. Best case scenario they pull enough votes away from Hillary Clinton to prevent her from securing the necessary majority of 270 electoral votes.

Then the election goes to a House of Representatives ballot presided over Speaker Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s former running mate in 2012.

If neither candidate gets 270 electoral college votes, Congress picks the president. And he will be called President Mitt, the one who is laying the groundwork for this doomsday electoral scenario.

The basic theory is that a third party candidate who is Generic Republican Establishment (no not Pawlenty) would be able to do three things at the same time:

  • Insure that Trump does not get 270 electoral votes
  • win at least one electoral vote
  • Insure that Hillary Clinton does not get 270 electoral votes

In an alternative universe, that could work, but in this universe, I am having a hard time seeing how to actually make it work with a generic Republican running as a non-Trump alternative.

I think the first part is achievable.  However, the third party Republican spoiler is not needed.  Continual video playback of Trump’s speeches to non-Trump fans will isnure that.  If the Republican establishment decided it needed at least one electoral vote, it’s sock pocket could probably win Utah or a Congressional district in Nebraska.  Worse comes to worse, an elector could be a faithless elector.  I’ll concede the mechanics on this one.

The problem with this pre-emptive pants shitting is the third part.

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And Now for Something Completely Different: Syrian Refugees Welcomed by Canadian Furries

Yes, you read that headline right. Given all the insanity we’ve been covering this weekend, I thought it would be good to post about something nice for a change. When the Vancouver, BC hotel that was hosting the annual VancouFur convention turned out to also be one of the temporary housing sites for Syrian refugees that have been admitted to Canada something really wonderful happened. The anthropomorphic animal reenactors reached out to the refugee children to welcome them to Canada.

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To quote one of the participants:

Mike Schmidt, who attended VancouFur wrote on Vancity Buzz: “One of the many highlights for me was when the new group of Syrian refugee children came in and got to interact with us. To them we were cartoons to come to life, to us [it] was a means to display our acting performance to a very appreciative audience.

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Click on over and see the videos and more pictures of the refugee children having a great time interacting with the furries (the first one is autoplay).

 

* Image found here.

** Image found here.