Thursday, April 28, 2016

Last Call For Trump Cards, Con't

I know that Republicans will fall in line and that Trump will get minimum 45% of the vote in November (in a two candidate fight), the question at this point is if he gets any more than that.

I'm Greg Sargent argues in fact that Trump may not even get 45%.

The basic case for nominating Ted Cruz rather than Donald Trump is that, while Cruz would arguably be the most right-wing nominee in modern American history, and would probably lose to Hillary Clinton, he would not unleash the sort of blood-dimmed tide of down-ticket destruction that Trump would. 
A new Washington Post/ABC News poll lends some support to this view: It finds that Trump’s numbers are unspeakably awfulamong all the voter groups that Republican strategists had hoped to improve the party’s performance among in 2016. On the other hand, Cruz’s numbers aren’t that great among these groups either — they are certainly worse than John Kasich’s are. 
First, Trump. Marvel at these findings: Trump is viewed unfavorably by 67 percent of Americans overall; 75 percent of women; 74 percent of young voters; 91 percent of African Americans; 81 percent of Latinos; 73 percent of college-educated whites; 66 percent of white women; and 72 percent of moderates.

People dislike Hillary Clinton, surely.  But they friggin' hate Donald Trump.  Ted Cruz fares little better.

Could Trump win somehow by running up a huge margin among white voters — particularly blue collar whites and white men? Well, Trump is viewed unfavorably by 59 percent of whites overall, and he is even viewed unfavorably by majorities of non-college whites (52 percent) and white men (51 percent). And Trump’s awful numbers among college educated whites and white women (detailed above) make the run-up-the-white-vote strategy look still more far fetched. 
Now, Cruz. The Texas Senator is viewed unfavorably by 53 percent of women; 50 percent of young voters; 51 percent of blacks; 46 percent of Latinos (versus 32 percent who view him favorably); 65 percent of college educated whites; 56 percent of white women; and 55 percent of moderates. All of that is significantly better than Trump. But he’s underwater with all these groups, and Cruz’s struggles among college educated whites and women (particularly white women) lend some credence to the Democratic assessment that Cruz’s conservatism on social issues could prove crippling among key swing voter groups.

So no matter what, Hillary's 40-ish favorable numbers may be enough, compared to Cruz's worse and Trumps far more awful ones.

Drug Paraphernalia

Missouri Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill opened up a can of whoopass on executives and investors of Valeant Pharmaceuticals before a Senate hearing on Wednesday, and it was glorious.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging is one of two U.S. congressional panels investigating sky-rocketing price increases of certain decades-old drugs acquired by companies including Valeant and Turing Pharmaceuticals, a company founded by Martin Shkreli.

Ackman, a major Valeant shareholder, appeared Wednesday alongside the company's outgoing Chief Executive Michael Pearson and Howard Schiller, a board member and former chief financial officer.

Ackman joined the board last month as Valeant faced mounting scrutiny by members of Congress, prosecutors and regulators over its drug pricing, business practices and accounting - issues that have caused its share price to plummet almost 90 percent since August.

Valeant has about $30 billion of debt and has been negotiating with creditors, some of whom issued notices of default after it missed a deadline for the filing of its financial results.

Ackman said Wednesday that one of his top priorities is to protect the company from bankruptcy. Later, in response to a question from Reuters, he expressed confidence that the company will recover.

“There is not going to be any bankruptcy of Valeant,” he said. “We were in a death spiral, and we have taken steps to deal with the banks. We are going to file our 10K on time. We brought in a new CEO.”

Pearson, Ackman and Schiller all told lawmakers on Wednesday they regretted Valeant's pricing decisions.

"The company was too aggressive and I, as its leader, was too aggressive in pursuing price increases on certain drugs," he said.

But many lawmakers on the panel appeared skeptical. They questioned Valeant's business model of investing little in research and development, and the company's practice of acquiring decades-old drugs and raising the prices.

Senator Claire McCaskill, the panel's top Democrat, angrily asked each of the panelists at one point if they could recall one drug that Valeant didn't raise the price on.

"Not in the United States," Pearson responded, while Schiller was only able to come up with the name of one drug Valeant acquired after its purchase of Salix.

"That is not social good, that is social bad," McCaskill said

Even worse, Valeant disclosed that current CEO Michael Papa will be taking a measly $1.5 million a year base salary...and stock options that could be worth tens, if not hundreds of millions.

On Wednesday evening Valeant disclosed Papa’s employment agreement. A first look at the compensation terms indicate the embattled company plans to continue offering stock awards that reward a focus on aggressively increasing the company’s share price.

Documents Valeant filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicate Papa could make nearly $100 million if its stock can return to an October 2015 level of $150 a share. If Valeant’s share price hits $270, Papa will make well over $500 million in stock awards, along with cash bonus awards. The stock closed at $34.92 Wednesday.

One stipulation in the agreement, a lockup requiring Papa to own shares for a number of years, wties his rewards to sustainable growth, in theory. But Papa’s stock incentives, called performance share units, are similar to the arrangements that turned Pearson into a paper billionaire as Valeant became a stock market darling.

So yes, Mr. Papa would be a moron to pass up hundreds of millions by not jacking up prices once again on life saving drugs, because his job is to do exactly that.

That's how the game is played.

Frankly, Stein's Monster

Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein has been relatively quiet this campaign (or completely ignored, your choice) but she's definitely making some noise with this offer to Bernie Sanders.

While overly presumptive Republican presidential candidates are rushing to announce potential vice presidential running mates, one presidential candidate is openly courting the idea of a bipartisan unity ticket.

Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for president, wrote an open letter to Bernie Sanders, asking the Independent Vermont senator to consider ditching his attempt to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination for a real “revolution for people, planet and peace” alongside Stein. 
Stein, who has long called on Sanders to join forces with her in the interest of their “shared goals,” wrote to Sanders over the weekend: “I invite you to join me in pushing the boundaries of that system to a place where revolution can truly take root.” 
“You’ve proven that in today’s rapidly changing America, a populist progressive agenda covered by the media and the televised debates can catch on like wildfire and shake the foundations of a political establishment that seemed invulnerable just a few short months ago,” Stein wrote to Sanders, asking if “in this wildly unpredictable election where the old rules are giving way one by one, can we think outside the box and find new and unexpected ways to synergize beyond obsolete partisan divides?”

I can't imagine Bernie's ego allowing him to consider being Jill Stein's running mate, but if he did, you could pretty much start printing out the inaugural ball invitations for President Trump the second he actually took her up on the offer.

You thought Ralph Nader was bad for the country?  A Stein/Sanders Green Party ticket would absolutely hand the White House over to the GOP and would be an unmitigated disaster.

I pray that Bernie isn't this stupid.  Signs are very, very clear that he's ignoring Stein overtures here, and that he should continue to do so.


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