Is Donald Trump a Cheating Piece of Shit?

Yes:

During the Lake Tahoe tournament, McDougal and Trump had sex, she wrote. He also allegedly began a sexual relationship with Clifford at the event. (A representative for Clifford did not respond to requests for comment.) In the 2011 interview with In Touch Weekly, Clifford said that Trump didn’t use a condom and didn’t mention sleeping with anyone else. Another adult-film actress, Dawn Vanguard, whose screen name is Alana Evans, claimed that Trump invited her to join them in his hotel room that weekend. A third adult-film performer, Jessica Drake, alleged that Trump asked her to his hotel room, met her and two women she brought with her in pajamas, and then “grabbed each of us tightly in a hug and kissed each one of us without asking for permission.” He then offered Drake ten thousand dollars in exchange for her company. (Trump denied the incident.) A week after the golf tournament, McDougal joined Trump at the fifty-fifth Miss Universe contest, in Los Angeles. She sat near him, and later attended an after-party where she met celebrities. Trump also set aside tickets for Clifford, as he did at a later vodka launch that both women attended.

This is all while he was married to Melania and Barron was a year or two old. I think now that he has accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior, evangelicals will forgive him, so this is clearly only for the record.

Also: At least he didn’t have sexual relationships outside his race.








Republicans Steal Another One

The GOP guy grabs the tie-breaking seat in the Virginia Assembly by getting his name pulled out of a bowl.

The Democrat is expected to challenge this in court, which means the seat will remain vacant for now, but because the GOP thus has a 50-49 edge, they’ll hold the speakership and all committee chairs from now till next election.

Larry Sabato puts this in context:

In other words: the GOP can’t win free and fair elections. So they do everything they can to ensure they never have to contest one.

They are enemies of democracy and we won’t have ours back until they are defeated, root and branch, their citadels and their walls pulled down, their fields salted and their names unspoken until not even the memory of their sins troubles our days.  Every office, every seat, at every level of government needs to be contested.

GOP delenda est.

Image:  William Hogarth, Humours of an Election: Chairing the Member 1754-55



Dogs That Don’t Bark

Not only have Republicans been silent on any number of Donald Trump’s actions that would have caused them to erupt in impeachment fever had Barack Obama done them, they succeeded in suppressing actions that might have thwarted Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Historically, the Republicans have been the firmly anti-Communist and anti-Soviet party. One still occasionally sees anti-Communist rants from Republican commentators, but the fall of the Soviet Union diluted the value of such things.

It’s been 25 years now. People of electoral age grew up in the post Cold War world and may not realize the antagonism and fear that existed. Paul Ryan is 47, so he was 21 in 1991 and fantasizing about Ayn Rand. Mitch McConnell is 75 and doesn’t have that excuse.

Toward the end of last summer, the intelligence community was convinced that Russia was intervening in the election on the side of Donald Trump. They told President Barack Obama and other members of the administration. As the election approached, the situation became increasingly fraught. The best way to counter Russian meddling would be to expose it. However, if the Democratic President announced such a thing, he could be attacked as trying to influence the election.

The solution to that would be for the patriotic leaders of the opposition to join with the President and the intelligence community to warn the public of the foreign interference. Obama and other Democratic officials suggested that to the Republican leadership. McConnell and the Trump campaign doubted the intelligence. John Brennan, then director of the CIA, assured them that it was not a partisan matter. Read more



Open Thread: Everything’s Bolder in This (Mal)Administration…

In a terse letter to Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) — leaders of the House oversight committee — President Donald Trump’s congressional liaison Marc Short declined to indicate whether any administration officials had used personal email accounts or messaging services, despite reports suggesting such communications were common in the West Wing.

“The White House and covered employees endeavor to comply with all relevant laws,” Short wrote in a two-page reply delivered late last week and obtained Monday by POLITICO.

Short’s statement comes despite recent revelations that several senior aides to President Donald Trump routinely used private email addresses and personal devices for government business. Among the current and former aides who POLITICO found at least occasionally relied on private email addresses were Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Gary Cohn and Reince Priebus.

In a similarly brief letter, Short also declined to provide records in response to a separate inquiry by Gowdy and Cummings into the use of costly private air travel by top administration officials.

The White House’s limited responses set up a potential confrontation with Gowdy, a hard-nosed prosecutor with subpoena power and a track record that includes sharp criticism of Hillary Clinton’s use of private email as secretary of state. Cummings said last week that he hoped the committee would subpoena any information that the White House declined to provide, as have other Democrats…

Anybody want to bet that Witchfinder Gowdy will take more than a token interest in Lawyer Short’s curt dismissal of his mighty prosecutorial powers?

At least now we know why so many high-ranking Repubs have suddenly started wringing their pale plump hands over the reckless, out-of-control Trump cartel’s totally unprecedented “takeover” of the GOP — suddenly it’s in the Party’s interests to pretend they had nothing to do with this gang of thieves and con artists. Shocked! they are shocked! that there might be gambling going on in their personal branded casino!…



Degrading the public sphere (data edition)

Hannah Recht is one hell of a data visualizer and story teller on healthcare. She is assembling the bare county maps for Bloomberg and then she tweeted the following on Wednesday:

She goes on to explain how and why the government map is fundamentally wrong. It is a combination of people not being familiar with the data and an intent to deceive through malice or laziness.

American public data resources are an incredible asset. They are being degraded as we speak. This is why everyone who could yank a file from November 9-January 20, 2017 yanked files. We feared that there would be massive data degradation. And the solution of archiving public resource files on non-government servers is a reasonable solution to the feared problem of forgetting the past. It does nothing for the ongoing fear that current files will not be collected, corrupted or hideously and deliberately mis-interpreted.

This is just one small example in a domain where I have knowledge and passion. We know it is happening elsewhere such as the EPA and voting rights too. I think the safe assumption is that it is happening everywhere.



Let’s get cynical with CSR and the midterms

I spent too much of my weekend on a highway so I had time to get cynical about Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) subsidies and rate filings.

Charles Gaba at ACA Signups notes the increasing attribution of increased individual market premiums due to policy uncertainty.

And finally, you have this press release from the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, which applies to all 5 carriers collectively: 8.8% increase if not for Trump/GOP sabotage, up to 36.3% with it added. That means that the worst-case scenario would mean a “Trump Tax” of 27.5%…or 3/4 of the overall rate increases.

I noted in March that all of the incentives were set up for high rate filings.

So how do the incentives align?
Filing actuaries hate being wrong. They hate being wrong the most when it costs their employers money and them their jobs. They have every reason to file high. The reviewing actuaries don’t want to be wrong but they have a public trust component to their job where they need to make sure that the filing entity will be an ongoing viable business while not taking too much advantage of the public.
Republicans want high rates to be filed. It gives them a good headline when they’ll need one to keep their base in line. Insurance company executives won’t mind giving them a good headline as it is a low cost favor…
State insurance commissioners of either party won’t mind high filings. They will be able to issue press releases and have interviews where they can clearly, cleanly and honestly state that due to their work, the initial rates came down by 50% before Open Enrollment.
The players with the ability to influence rates all have a shared incentive to have initially hideous numbers filed in June and then see hideous shaved down to merely bad for the first day of Open Enrollment in November.

I was not thinking the scenario through far enough.

With the assumption that the 2019 individual market will be an exchange based market of some sort, what are the headlines in October 2018 if there is a bill that fully funds CSR subsidies that is signed in March 2018?

“What a great deal, insurance premiums go down 8%”

There is a strong incentive for CSR to be funded with 100% certainty before the 2019 rate filing process is even started at the carriers that may be offering plans on any exchanges. The absence of a potential demolition charge will drop rates significantly. And since those rates will drop a week before the election, the incentive is for Republicans, who are worried about their seats, to pass a bill that will give them a great headline as everyone gets ready to go to the polls.








Shame as a limiting constraint

It is always worthwhile to read through the back archives of the now defunct Kung Fu Monkey.

Today’s relevant post is on shame as a constraint. It was written in 2007 responding to the US Attorney firing scandal as they weren’t willing to railroad people for non-existent voter fraud. I think it is a relevant structural analysis today as well:

This just hammers home my realization of what the Cheney Administration — and yes, damn you this is the first time I’ve indulged in that neologism, and the first time I think it perfectly appropriate — what the Cheney Administration has discovered. They have found the “exploit” within the United States Government. As I watched Congressmen and Senators stumble and fumble and thrash, unable to bring to heel men and women who were plainly lying to them under oath, unable to eject from public office toadies of a boot-licking expertise unseen since Versailles, it struck me. The sheer, simple elegance of it. The “exploit”.

The exploit is shame.

Our representatives — and to a great degree we as a culture — are completely buffaloed by shamelessness. You reveal a man’s corrupt, or lying, or incompetent, and what does he do? He resigns. He attempts to escape attention, often to aid in his escape of legal pursuit. Public shame has up to now been the silver bullet of American political life. But people who are willing to just do the wrong thing and wait you out, to be publicly guilty … dammmnnnn.

We are faced with utterly shameless men. Cheney and the rest are looking our representatives right in the eye and saying “You don’t have the balls to take down a government. You don’t have the sheer testicular fortitude to call us lying sonuvabitches when we lie, to stop us from kicking the rule of law and the Constitution in the ass. You just don’t. What’s beyond that abyss — what that would do to our government and our identity as a nation — terrifies you too much. So get the fuck out of our way.”