Happy New Year: Ireland Man Edition!

We have an early entrant in the bizarre things that occur on New Year’s Eve contest. This one courtesy of Ireland Man (like Florida Man, but with a better accent!).

(h/t: https://twitter.com/AMoCS/status/815302062829404160)

Hope everyone’s festivities or quiet night’s in are going to plan!

Stay frosty!



Make Sure to Save the Date!

Oy vey…

 



One More Thing: I Do Dare Call It Treason

There’s no way to parse what happened in the few weeks before the election without recognizing that both FBI director Comey and Senate Majority Leader McConnell effectively colluded with Russia to throw this election.

hanged-men-pittura-infamante-andrea-del-sarto-6c

Comey can’t not have known about the Russia connection to the emails, and yet chose to violate policy, precedent and explicit advice from Justice in his email letter ten days before the vote.

McConnell was specifically briefed on Russia’s efforts to influence the election, and he pressured (successfully, alas) the Obama administration to withhold that information from the public.

Both of them made choices that directly enabled Putin’s efforts.  Both of them knew, to a virtual certainty, that this was the case.

Both of them are in my view traitors — both to our country as it is now, and to the idea of a representative democracy America is supposed to embody.

And one more one more thing: Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife, is Trump’s nominee for Transportation secretary. It is unconfirmed at this time that this is payment for services rendered.  It would, however, be irresponsible not to speculate.

Image: Andrea del Sarto, Study for a “Shame Painting” — In Italy, this form of execution was associated w. traitors. Before 1530.



Open Thread: President Obama Orders A “Full Review” of Russian Election Hacking

In a move essential to guarantee confidence in our electoral process, and also the proud political tradition of “Make ‘Em Deny It”, per CNN:

President Barack Obama has ordered a full review into hacking by the Russians aimed at influencing US elections going back to 2008, the White House said Friday.

“The President has directed the Intelligence Community to conduct a full review of what happened during the 2016 election process. It is to capture lessons learned from that and to report to a range of stakeholders,” White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser Lisa Monaco said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters Friday. “This is consistent with the work that we did over the summer to engage Congress on the threats that we were seeing.”

White House spokesman Eric Schultz added later that the review would encompass malicious cyber activity related to US elections going back to 2008…

Democrats were quick to praise Obama on Friday and pressured Trump to change his tune.
“Defending our elections from foreign meddling is more important than any political party’s advantage or disadvantage,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “Any Administration should be deeply troubled by Russia’s attempt to tamper with our elections.”

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, California Rep. Adam Schiff, praised the administration for its move and called on the White House to declassify as much as it could.

“Given President-elect Trump’s disturbing refusal to listen to our intelligence community and accept that the hacking was orchestrated by the Kremlin, there is an added urgency to the need for a thorough review before President Obama leaves office next month,” Schiff said in a statement. “More than that, the administration must begin to take steps to respond forcefully to this blatant cyber meddling, and work with our allies in Europe who have been targets of similar attacks to impose costs on the Kremlin; if we do not, we can expect to see a lot more of this in the near future.”

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the President’s move “constructive” and said he has no doubt about the Moscow’s role…

More detail, and video, at the link.

From that Newsweek link in the top tweet:

Asked if Republican President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team was not concerned enough about Russia’s influence on the election or about other threats to the United States such as infectious disease outbreaks, Monaco said it was too soon to say. As a presidential candidate, Trump praised Putin and called on Russia to dig up missing emails from his opponent, Hillary Clinton, from her time as secretary of state under fellow Democrat Obama.



Cynicism confirmed

Balloon Juice in August:

Aetna was profitable in 2015 in the individual market in Pennsylvania. It is projecting to be profitable in 2017. The filing memo was drafted in late May and submitted to the Pennsylvania regulators in early June. Conditions have not changed enough to make Pennsylvania a money loser in under two months.

My wee bit of cynicism bears fruit. Aetna is trying to logroll an anti-competetive merger with on-Exchange political consequences. If it works for Aetna/Humana it burns a bridge to get the merger, and if it fails, it puts Aetna on the shitlist of any Democratic administration. That is a very interesting strategy when it is highly likely that there will be another Democratic administration…

So in all years Aetna’s individual market operations in Pennsylvania were either profitable or projected to be profitable. Something stinks worse than a wrestling team’s locker room after two-a-days.

USA Today on Sunday afternoon:

When Aetna announced in August that it was leaving the exchanges in 11 of the 15 states it sells in for 2017, it said it had a pretax loss of $200 million on its individual insurance plans in the second quarter of this year and total pretax losses of more than $430 million since January 2014 on its individual insurance plans. Nearly all of these policies are sold on the ACA exchanges. At the time, CEO Mark Bertolini said the move would “limit our financial exposure moving forward.”

But Aetna made nearly $12 million on individual ACA plans in Texas and more than $8 million in Pennsylvania, according to financial filings with state regulators, and is exiting the Healthcare.gov exchange in both states anyway. Asked to comment on decisions to leave states where it was making money, Aetna spokesman T.J. Crawford said, “We don’t discuss performance at the state level.”

Nice to know that I am occasionally cynical enough.



Thursday Morning Open Thread: PEOTUS Trump, Fraud-in-Chief

Looks like the Washington Post may have decided the nation needs a Paper of Opposition, since the NYTimes is determined to control the Kneepads Brigade. Phillip Bump, “Trump will be the first modern president to get less than half of the vote in both the primary and general”:

Trump always likes to say that he received more votes than any previous Republican nominee, which is accurate, but it’s also accurate that a record was set for most votes cast for candidates other than the eventual nominee.

Using data from U.S. Election Atlas and the Congressional Quarterly Guide to Elections, we can plot contests since 1972 (after the reforms that followed the 1968 process) and demonstrate that only five times have major-party nominees earned less than 50 percent of the vote in both the primary and the general — and only once, this year, has that person ended up winning the presidency…

Update: Since someone on Twitter asked, the other four people to get under 50 percent in each contest were John McCain (2008), Michael Dukakis (1988), Walter Mondale (1984) and George McGovern (1972).

Interestingly, both of the last two losing candidates got more of the vote in the general election than did Trump. Trump earned about 46.3 percent of the vote (though ballots are still being counted) to Mitt Romney’s 47.2. (Romney also did better than Trump in nearly half the states.) Hillary Clinton, of course, beat Trump in the popular vote this year, which is where this whole thing started…

More Republicans voted for someone besides Trump than voted for him in the primary, but he won. More Americans voted for Trump’s opponent in the general, but he won.

Had we been saying this about Clinton, I think it’s safe to guess the word Trump would have used to describe her victory: Rigged.

Trump, as is his wont, found the right loopholes to stake his claim to a chunk of an aging, damaged institution (the GOP, in this case) — which he will now, predictably, loot and discard.

But let’s keep reminding him that his “landslide” is really just a Mondale/McGovern/Dukakis/McCain – level #FAIL, artificially inflated into the semblance of a victory by years of Republican vote-suppression, gerrymandering, foreign interference, and warring factions within the national security state. He has no mandate, and neither do the professional GOP asset-strippers like Paul Ryan, who are planning to use Trump as their catspaw.

***********
Apart from congratulating the pollsters for their accuracy (FWIW), what’s on the agenda for the day?



Putin’s Puppet and NFLG Harry Reid

Senator Harry Reid has just released a letter to FBI Director Comey that is utterly (and IMHO appropriately) brutal.

It contains two key elements.  The first is a direct assertion that Comey has engaged in partisan political action, and may (by implication, has) broken the law by violating the Hatch Act.

The second is this:

In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government – a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public. There is no danger to American interests from releasing it. And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information.

neuville_alphonse_de_-_the_spy_-_1880

Hillary Clinton’s aide’s husband sent dick picks from a computer that may or may not contain emails that may or may not add to our nation’s stock of risotto recipes.

Donald Trump, apparantly, has consequential entanglement with the former KGB thug-led Russian government and its klepto-thug circle of supporters.

We know hair-raising innuendo about the former.

About the latter, from the same institution?  Crickets.

Sauce for the goose damn well ought to be sauce for the gander.  And Comey’s a hack who needs to go at the earliest politick opportunity. (And yeah, that’s not a typo.  I like that old spelling.)

No BS here: if the FBI has pertinent information on Trump’s potential for conflict of interest due to his Russian encounters, we need to know this now.

Here is Reid’s letter in full:

Dear Director Comey:

Your actions in recent months have demonstrated a disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information, with what appears to be a clear intent to aid one political party over another. I am writing to inform you that my office has determined that these actions may violate the Hatch Act, which bars FBI officials from using their official authority to influence an election. Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law.

The double standard established by your actions is clear.

In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government – a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public. There is no danger to American interests from releasing it. And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information.

By contrast, as soon as you came into possession of the slightest innuendo related to Secretary Clinton, you rushed to publicize it in the most negative light possible.

Moreover, in tarring Secretary Clinton with thin innuendo, you overruled longstanding tradition and the explicit guidance of your own Department. You rushed to take this step eleven days before a presidential election, despite the fact that for all you know, the information you possess could be entirely duplicative of the information you already examined which exonerated Secretary Clinton.

As you know, a memo authored by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates on March 10, 2016, makes clear that all Justice Department employees, including you, are subject to the Hatch Act. The memo defines the political activity prohibited under the Hatch Act as “activity directed towards the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.”

The clear double-standard established by your actions strongly suggests that your highly selective approach to publicizing information, along with your timing, was intended for the success or failure of a partisan candidate or political group.

Please keep in mind that I have been a supporter of yours in the past. When Republicans filibustered your nomination and delayed your confirmation longer than any previous nominee to your position, I led the fight to get you confirmed because I believed you to be a principled public servant.

With the deepest regret, I now see that I was wrong.

Sincerely,

Senator Harry Reid

Image: Alphonse de Neuville, The Spy1880.