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Draining the Swamp!

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JS-thenNobody Gets Hurt!

I can’t wait for Chief Justice Roberts to write the opinion holding that this behavior is protected by the 1st Amendment and the equal sovereign dignitude of the states:

Rep. Tom Price last year purchased shares in a medical device manufacturer days before introducing legislation that would have directly benefited the company, raising new ethics concerns for President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary.

Price bought between $1,001 to $15,000 worth of shares last March in Zimmer Biomet, according to House records reviewed by CNN.

Less than a week after the transaction, the Georgia Republican congressman introduced the HIP Act, legislation that would have delayed until 2018 a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulation that industry analysts warned would significantly hurt Zimmer Biomet financially once fully implemented.

Zimmer Biomet, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of knee and hip implants, was one of two companies that would been hit the hardest by the new CMS regulation that directly impacts the payments for such procedures, according to press reports and congressional sources.
After Price offered his bill to provide Zimmer Biomet and other companies relief from the CMS regulation, the company’s political action committee donated to the congressman’s reelection campaign, records show.

Still, one time a Clinton Foundation donor asked Huma Abedin for a meeting and didn’t get one, so Both Sides Do It but Clinton is worse.

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  • humanoid.panda

    Interestingly, both this and the Crowley plagiarism story (which actually led to her withdrawl) were produced by CNN. Which shows that
    A) It is not a complete waste of breath.
    and
    B) Trump can’t just kick the media without any retaliation.

    • ASV

      C) They understand conventional scandals but not the next-level shit Trump is pulling.

    • ΧΤΠΔ

      Did they murder Jeff Zucker and we just didn’t hear about it yet?

      ETA: We need to turn CNN into Buzzfeed 2.0.

    • Abbey Bartlet

      IIRC, the Crowley story came from Andrew Kaczynski, who was at BuzzFeed until a few months ago when CNN picked him up.

      What I’m saying is, our best news outlets may now be BuzzFeed and Teen Vogue.

      • petesh

        Yay, youth!

  • Bruce Vail

    Well, Clinton actually DID do something similar, although, granted, it was a long time ago.

    She took a position on the Board of Directors of WalMart even though she had no qualifications for the position at all, except that she was the spouse of the Governor of the state of Arkansas, where WalMart is headquartered.

    She was paid (and likely received some stock grants) for a no-work job. I agree with Scott that the “both sides do it” is a tired meme that doesn’t address the meaningful political differences between the two major political parties, but there are actually a lot of examples of top Democrats playing footsy with big business.

    • Ithaqua

      This isn’t playing footsie with big business, this is insider trading, and it’s a crime.

      • Bruce Vail

        I’ll have to defer to the many lawyers on this blog, but I am aware that there this both legal insider trading and illegal insider trading. Not sure that Price’s corrupt action qualifies as a violation of the illegal insider trading law.

        • efgoldman

          Not sure that Price’s corrupt action qualifies as a violation of the illegal insider trading law.

          Even if it doesn’t, it’s a clear ethics violation for the office.
          And (IANAL) I think it probably is.

          • DAS

            As a professor at a second tier state university, if I even do something that would give the appearance of a conflict of interest, I’d be in deep trouble. Heck, I suspect the janitorial staff at my school probably (as state employees) are subject to stricter ethical standards than state and federal lawmakers are.

          • Phil Perspective

            Even if it doesn’t, it’s a clear ethics violation for the office.

            Is it? I thought Congress immunized themselves from such things. Meaning they can do all the insider-trading they want. Hasn’t there been all sorts of stories about Congresspeople doing what Price is accused of? Besides. what’s to stop the Zombie-eyed Granny Starver from passing tips, say ACA repeal, along to his brother advising him to short insurance company stocks?

    • humanoid.panda

      There is similarity here, but there are two major differences
      – HRC was at the time partner in the biggest law firm in state, which means she had some qualifications, at least nominally.
      – At the time, she was neither an employee of the state, nor an elected official.

      • Bruce Vail

        Granted there are differences. That’s why I said “similar” not “identical.”

        The similarity seem fairly clear to me, if not to Scott. She used her public position (First Lady of Arkansas) for private profit.

        I voted for her, by the way, even though the WalMart thing and her well-paid speeches to Wall Street sharks were sticking in my craw the whole time.

        • nemdam

          Of all the issues to have a problem with. Wow.

        • Abbey Bartlet

          I voted for her, by the way, even though the WalMart thing and her well-paid speeches to Wall Street sharks were sticking in my craw the whole time.

          You want a cookie?

          • Bruce Vail

            Sure, I love cookies.

            I feel like I should add this info since every time I express disagreement with something Scott says, the ditto heads around here go nuts on me. And I want to give Scott full credit for turning my thinking around on third parties in presidential elections.

            • every time I express disagreement with something Scott says, the ditto heads around here go nuts on me

              How could anyone “go nuts” on such a swell guy?

        • Kerans

          I suspect that just about every politician that isn’t independently wealthy gets some kind of private profit at some point. Do you think that she was completely unique? Wait, ignore that, I don’t want to relitigate Ms. Clinton.

          • Dilan Esper

            I suspect that just about every politician that isn’t independently wealthy gets some kind of private profit at some point

            Substitute “most” for “every” and I think you are right.

            But having said that, that doesn’t really mean we should excuse Democratic politicians who do this stuff. The standard should be that they don’t, and that if they do, it will hurt their careers. As I once observed about Hillary here, no matter what you think of her politics and how far “left” she moved, there’s still a difference between a person who hangs out with mostly working and middle class labor organizers and academics and protesters, and a person who hangs out with billionaires, multi-millionaires, corporate CEO’s, and high finance types.

            Ideally, I’d actually like to get to the Democratic Party to the point where even socializing with someone in finance is seen as similar to hanging out with a foreign dictator or something, and taking that kind of money is something you simply do not do if you want to succeed in Democratic Party politics.

        • brewmn

          They are nothing alike. But, you did your job. Trump is president. You can shut the fuck up now.

        • Ahuitzotl

          She used her public position (First Lady of Arkansas

          How in the living fuck does this become a public position? was she elected to it? did she represent anyone? is it mentioned anywhere in the US or AR constitutions? No, it’s just a bullshit title made up to hang on her.

      • GFW

        Most importantly, the first lady of Arkansas cannot introduce legislation and there is no evidence that she attempted to influence any state legislation or state decision-making to benefit WalMart. So the most important point is missing from the analogy.

        • Warren Terra

          The idea that it might be possible to further distort Arkansas government for the benefit of WalMart and the Waltons is risible.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          she was *supposed* to turn Wallyhell into a People’s Cooperative Store chain

          (yeah, yeah, I know there are tags for the sarcasm font, pfft, lazy)

        • James B. Shearer

          So if Price had just had his wife do the trading everything would be fine?

          • Warren Terra

            Are you really unable to distinguish between – disreputable – gifts and perks for influential people and their families and friends – and actual direct corruption, insider trading, the selling of legislation, quid pro quo stuff?

            • James B. Shearer

              If Price’s insider trading was legal (as I believe is the case) then it would appear to fall in the disreputable perk category.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      I didn’t like the fact that Clinton served on Wal-Mart’s board. But it is not at all the same thing as what Price did here.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Clinton actually DID do something similar,

      [cites something not remotely similar]

      • veleda_k

        Trump breathes oxygen, Clinton breathes oxygen, ergo Both Sides Do It but Clinton is worse.

        • q-tip

          They both pee, but only one of them does it sitting down.

          • keta

            They both pee, but only one of them does it sitting down considers it a spectator sport.

    • (((Malaclypse)))

      This is similar in exactly the same way that working and stealing are similar – both involve getting money, after all.

    • marduk

      Um, do you know what a Board of Directors does and what constitutes “qualifications” to be a board member?

      • efgoldman

        do you know what a Board of Directors does

        Answer to both questions is usually “not much.”

      • nemdam

        We all know Hillary was basically just a housewife, and Bill was using her to collect that sweet Clinton Ca$h. I mean let’s face it, until Bill sold out the Arkansas Governor’s mansion to Wal-Mart, it was a model corporate citizen. It wasn’t until his (w***e) wife corrupted the place that it turned to the dark side.

        • David Allan Poe

          She wasn’t just a housewife. I have it on good authority she handled the family hits and the drugrunning as well.

    • wjts

      She took a position on the Board of Directors of WalMart even though she had no qualifications for the position at all, except that she was the spouse of the Governor of the state of Arkansas, where WalMart is headquartered.

      I’m sure her position on the Walmart board had nothing to do with her previous service on the boards of the Legal Services Corporation, the New World Foundation, the Children’s Defense Fund, and the frozen yogurt chain TCBY. And I’m sure that her position as a partner in the Rose Law Firm, which she joined before her husband became governor (though not, to be Scrupulously Fair, before he became state AG, which is probably totally the only reason they hired her) and had Walmart for a client, had nothing to do with it either. Nope, just the First Lady Macbeth of Arkansas thing, so when you think about it, both sides do it, but Hillary Clinton is the worst.

      • Warren Terra

        I think we need more investigation of her time on the board of TCBY. After all, that can be Yoghurt, can’t it? Is the company lying, and why didn’t Clinton stop them? Don’t we , the American people, deserve the truth?

        • wjts

          It’s not as healthy as regular yogurt and not as tasty as ice cream. It’s the triangulating neoliberalism of desserts, so obviously they wanted Clinton on the board.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            Pinkberry would have won!

          • ΧΤΠΔ

            Bullshit. The triangulating neoliberalism of dairy desserts are obviously Kraft Singles and Velveeta “cheese product”.

            • wjts

              Who eats either of those for dessert, though?

              • ΧΤΠΔ

                The same people who don’t see buying toaster chicken as a wake-up call.

                • I don’t get why that article uses the “salmonella” angle for making fun of toaster chicken. In my experience, super-processed frozen pre-cooked chicken bits are the food of choice of germophobes and picky eaters alike.

                • ΧΤΠΔ

                  It’s definitely more “epically undignified foodstuff” than “singles-apartments crap that’ll kill you” (also, the linked article’s relevant because it makes fun of American Shreds and its ilk).*

                  *Still miles better than Kraft Singles & Velveeta “cheese product.”

                • David Allan Poe

                  Velveeta and Kraft Singles both have their place when you need a smooth melting cheese product for queso or to sink into the crannies of a burger. If you’re above them or want a different flavor, though, you can get the same texture from your preferred cheese and sodium citrate.

              • rachelmap

                Hell, who eats those as food!?

                • ΧΤΠΔ

                  Hence the qualifier, “triangulating neoliberalism of dairy desserts product.”

                  Also, White Castle is the fast-food equivalent of $2 cardboard pizza.

          • vic rattlehead

            Cue Jacobin article on why froyo is counterrevolutionary.

      • Hogan

        I’m writing this comment into my will. For all the good THAT will do.

      • Scott Lemieux

        I’m sure her position on the Walmart board had nothing to do with her previous service on the boards of the Legal Services Corporation, the New World Foundation, the Children’s Defense Fund, and the frozen yogurt chain TCBY. And I’m sure that her position as a partner in the Rose Law Firm, which she joined before her husband became governor (though not, to be Scrupulously Fair, before he became state AG, which is probably totally the only reason they hired her) and had Walmart for a client, had nothing to do with it either. Nope, just the First Lady Macbeth of Arkansas thing, so when you think about it, both sides do it, but Hillary Clinton is the worst.

        I am very confident Bruce would describe a man with the same cv as having no relevant qualifications for serving on a board of directors.

  • Warren Terra

    See also this CNN story on the labor secretary nominee Andrew Puzder (warning: autoplaying media at link):

    President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to be labor secretary has voiced second thoughts in recent days, because of a relentless barrage of criticism from Democrats, labor unions and other liberal groups, a business ally and GOP sources tell CNN.

    Andy Puzder is the CEO of the company that owns the Hardees and Carl’s Jr. fast food chains.

    “He may be bailing,” said a Republican source plugged into the Trump transition effort. “He is not into the pounding he is taking, and the paperwork.”

    via

    • humanoid.panda

      Between this, the Price news, the drumbeat of Russia news, Trump’s approval rating, and the quick organization of protests, one could conclude that Dems are doing not such a bad job of resistance so far, except that we all know that our leaders are weak and/or treasonous, we are divided, the republicans are invincible, and there won’t be any elections in the future anyway, so all is lost.

      • daves09

        And Kellyanne has become an object of fascination as, like her boss, she lies about everything, whether she needs to or not.
        I’m waiting for someone, anyone, to introduce her *and here with more ridiculous lies is Kellyanne Conway*.

        • vic rattlehead

          She’s getting greedy with her post-truth bluster. Even Ari Fleischer understood that there was a limit to how much you should push that envelope. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but I see some of the right wing people I know starting to crack on this (yes, anecdata). You can bluster and bullshit your way through a campaign but I see reality giving Trump a swift kick in the balls very soon. Maybe I’m too optimistic.

          • SNF

            The problem is that reality won’t aim its kick that carefully. It’s going to kick America in the balls, not just Trump. And it will be one hell of a kick.

      • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

        The approval ratings are another great sign. Remember how all the GOP leaders side-eyed him when it looked like he could cost them the Senate.

      • vic rattlehead

        And the media. Not entirely useless, just craven. No Clinton to kick around anymore, feed the scandal vacuum! Feeding frenzy!

        • rachelmap

          Chaffetz is going to do his best to make sure they continue to kick Clinton around. Dunno if that’ll work as a tactic, let alone as a strategy.

      • brewmn

        I’m heartened as well. But all this outrage really needs to turn into votes in 2018 and 2020, or it’s all a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. I hope that some of the energy being expressed in all these letters to representatives, rallies and marches will also be directed at voter registration and GOTV efforts at election time.

      • Phil Perspective

        … one could conclude that Dems are doing not such a bad job of resistance so far, except that we all know that our leaders are weak and/or treasonous, …

        Have you seen most of the confirmation hearings? Doesn’t give one much hope about blocking said nominations.

        • mds

          Hey, you know what else doesn’t give much hope about blocking said nominations? Senate Democrats’ previous abolition of the filibuster for executive appointments. It now offers craven Dems the perfect cover for not blocking a confirmation vote. Hell, if Chuck Schumer weren’t such a Wall Street tool, he’d be taking a page from the Garland playbook and telling Trump that he doesn’t get to staff his Cabinet positions ever.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      How ironic that a man in charge of a chain of restaurants doesn’t seem to be able to stand the kitchen heat.

      • Warren Terra

        Apparently his nomination has resulted in either the disclosure or the greatly increased discussion of some history he has as a perpetrator of domestic abuse, so it may be that rather than labor policy issues or “paperwork” that has him peeved.

        • humanoid.panda

          It’s also that that he signed up to run the government as a business. And no one in business is so crude as to demand paperwork and make it public for the serfs to see.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          Indeed. Trump may not be interested in vetting his nominees, but thank goodness there’s a few people left who care.

      • David Allan Poe

        Considering that the principal occupation of many of the world’s restaurant owners is to stay as far away from the business end of the business as they can, it’s not that ironic.

    • Scott Lemieux

      To be Scrupulously Fair, nobody could have anticipate that being nominated for a federal cabinet post would require paperwork or attract pubic attention.

      • Abbey Bartlet

        To be Scrupulously Fair, nobody could have anticipate that being nominated for a federal cabinet post would require paperwork or attract pubic attention.

        Whoa whoa whoa. I mean, I want tax returns released, but I do think there’s a limit to what we need to know about the nominees.

        • Kerans

          Relax, have a Coke!

          -Clarence

      • TopsyJane

        attract pubic attention

        There’s a typo to be set aside for future use. I’m sure it’ll come in handy, especially with this Administration.

      • nemdam

        Is it just me, or does this seem to happen an above average amount with business people who go into politics? They suddenly realize “Oh shit, I’m actually in the spotlight and accountable to the public and not just a stock price. People outside of a few business mags are actually going to criticize me! And they can actually fire me!”

        • bizarroMike

          Oh, yeah. Way above average. Also different: you can’t just fire the losers. They’re still in your district/state/country. That makes the tough minded business man of business act harder to pull off in the long run. It is also more or less exactly how business administration and government are different.

        • vic rattlehead

          “I’m running for office for Pete’s sake!”

    • vic rattlehead

      “He may be bailing,” said a Republican source plugged into the Trump transition effort. “He is not into the pounding he is taking, and the paperwork.”

      What is it with these guys? Democrats are always “ramming” things “down [their] throats” etc.

      He’s not into the pounding he’s taking! No homo! Democrats etc.

      • SNF

        Notice how Pence keeps gushing about Trump’s broad shoulders.

        • vic rattlehead

          And hey, nothing wrong with a man admiring another man’s shoulders! But good lord. I mean I know, not every homophobe is a closet case. But when they are obsessed with gay sex (like Rick Santorum) or every sentence they utter has a homoerotic subtext-or just straight up text-good lord stop torturing yourself and just embrace it.

      • Breadbaker

        Let’s offer him a safe space running a fryolator at one of his restaurants.

  • efgoldman

    one time a Clinton Foundation donor asked Huma Abedin for a meeting and didn’t get one, so Both Sides Do It but Clinton is worse.

    You’re right, of course. You’ll always be right. But that horse has not only left the barn, it’s runt ot three states over. been caught and sent to the glue factory.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Remember when the media hyping inane bullshit about Al Gore made the election close enough to steal? And everyone just kept their jobs and people just kinda forgot about it. That worked out great! Let’s just ignore it and hope it goes away again.

      • Hercules Mulligan

        Speaking of everyone’s favorite characters from the year 2000, let’s check in on good ol’ Holy Joe, wonder what he’s up to?

        • (((Malaclypse)))

          Remember when people would say, with a straight face, that “he’s with us on everything but the war”?

        • efgoldman

          let’s check in on good ol’ Holy Joe, wonder what he’s up to?

          Christ, what an asshole (© New Yorker)

      • jamesepowell

        Remember when Bob Somerby wrote about War on Gore over and over and over and everybody almost everybody said he’s gone off the deep end, get over it, move on?

        Turns out he was hitting on the most important flaw in our elections, even more important than the big money.

        So that’s twice now. Two straight Republicans get the White House with fewer votes because of bullshit witch hunts against the Democrat. Both led by the New York Times, I hasten to add.

        • Warren Terra

          I think I’m far from alone in thinking Somerby was absolutely right, and invaluable, but that he should stop writing the same damn blog post every single day for six months.

          • Scott Lemieux

            The thing is, there’s enough new material that he doesn’t need to be repetitive. The problem is more with his style. Recently, he promised to talk about how Steve Kornacki discussed Comey. The he wrote another post reiterating the first post and previewing the 47=part series that would discuss the transcripts. This could have been really useful and I would have linked to it. Then…he just dropped it and moved onto something else. He does this kind of thing all the time.

            He was right that he deserved more attention than he got, and he was dead right that 2000 would happen again if people ignored, but he doesn’t do himself any favors.

            • Warren Terra

              I haven’t read Somerby in well over a decade, because reading him was a great education that rapidly became a chore.

            • Bufflars

              Plus, I’m pretty sure Kornacki isn’t the problem. Anyone watching wonky shows on MSNBC was already going to vote for Clinton, no matter how Comey was being framed.

      • vic rattlehead

        Oh come on, Scott. What’s 100,000 dead Iraqis among friends?

      • IM

        You want to be the Bob Somerby of the Trump age?

        • Scott Lemieux

          Don’t worry, there will still be posts making fun of Josh McDaniels.

    • nemdam

      Given how horrific the consequences of this joke are, and the contrast of it against Trump, humor is the only way to process it. IMHO, it is still funny and will be funny until he’s gone.

      • bizarroMike

        Seconded. It’s still a good joke. Certainly at this moment of transition I get whiplash from the different standards applied to Clinton vs the new flock of monsters by the NYT. The WaPo has been better. I really want to see what they come up with from that dossier.

  • CrunchyFrog

    For a long time we on the left have thought that there really wasn’t any norm or law that the GOP couldn’t break and the press and official Washington wouldn’t just respond with “so, what’s your problem?”. But I though we were exaggerating. We weren’t.

    • humanoid.panda

      This is a weird reaction to make on a story broken by CNN.. I am second to none in my contempt for the media, but I think that one needs to acknowledge when they do their job.

  • Hogan

    I’m sure Jason Chaffetz will get right on that as soon as he’s done collecting and reading every copy of every email Hillary Clinton ever wrote, because he just knows there’s something dirty in there.

    • keta

      The sad part is that Trump’s shenanigans are going to make shitheads like Price look like the jayvee squad. And Republicans are simply going to go after anyone who dares try make it an issue.

      • vic rattlehead

        Yeah compared to the grifts and assorted crooked shit Trump has been in on for literally decades, Price’s transgression looks hilariously small ball. I mean, he should fucking resign and never hold public office ever again, but Trump’s probably thinking “That’s it? What a chump.”

        • Breadbaker

          He’s probably ordering a lot more of that stock right now.

    • nemdam

      Jason Chaffetz will probably ask Trump to expand his oversight capacity to media companies. When he tells Trump he wants it for CNN, Trump will probably tell Chaffetz he will do it only if he gets to do the investigation himself.

      • so-in-so

        When he tells Trump he wants it for CNN, Trump will probably tell Chaffetz he will do it only if he gets to do the investigation himself.

        You misspelled “conduct the executions”.

    • bizarroMike

      Also there are a lot of ethics officers to intimidate. That really fills up the day!

    • vic rattlehead

      I’m reminded of Strom Thurmond’s sole question of then-Judge Souter during the confirmation hearing. I believe it was “Judge Souter, do you believe judges should make the law or apply the law?”

      And then I’m picturing a Chaffetz led oversight hearing “Do you believe public servants should use public office to enrich themselves? No? And you haven’t been doing it have you? No? Very well we’re done here!”

    • mds

      I’m sure Jason Chaffetz will get right on that as soon as he’s done collecting and reading every copy of every email Hillary Clinton ever wrote

      Nah, he’ll get right on it as soon as he’s done with that and with raking the current head of the Office of Government Ethics over the coals for pointing out Trump’s imminent flagrant violations of government ethics. I mean, who does Walter Shaub think he is?

  • Davis X. Machina

    Price can invoke a religious exception:

    “I’m invoking a religious exception to excuse this obvious insider trading.”

    “What ‘religious exception’?”

    “I worship money. It’s my god.”

    • petesh

      Think he’ll baal from the gig?

      • Warren Terra

        More like he’ll cry for his Mammon.

      • Breadbaker

        Golden calf. Golden showers.

        • rea

          No, that would be Zeus, impregnating Danae and begetting Perseus, in the guise of a shower of gold.

  • Warren Terra

    Chuck Schumer’s official Twitter:

    This isn’t just a couple of questionable trades, but rather a pattern of Rep Price trading stock & using his office to benefit those cos.

    • humanoid.panda

      Which is clearly just secret New York deal-maker language for “I am totally going to sell us out and support repeal of Obamacare and privatization of Medicare just because.”

    • vic rattlehead

      Good. Looks like Chuck Schumer is an Honor Graduate of the Harry Reid School of Bareknuckle Boxing.

      • randy khan

        You’d almost think Schumer didn’t like Trump.

  • Jackson87

    Gol darn it! W traded Harken Energy stock an nobody gave a dern. Why raise a fuss when poor ol Tom Price jes wants to get up a little cash to pay fer his country club dues. Taint fair.

  • gusmpls

    $15k? Seems weird to be willing to take such a political risk for a comparatively small financial investment.

    • ColBatGuano

      That was the value before he introduced the back scratching legislation.

    • mds

      Well, Congressional corruption often seems to be nickel-and-dime stuff. Some of it is probably because there’s often a bigger deferred quid pro quo after they leave office. Some of it is because many of these guys just come cheap. I mean, Representatives have a pretty good salary and benefits, despite their frequent grousing, but $15k is still a nice boost.

      Also, what political risk? Republicans have just openly declared war on the Office of Government Ethics, and it’s not like a bag of liquified dog shit like Jason Chaffetz is going to go after Price. And even if the buzz is enough to kill Price’s Cabinet gig, he still has his House seat. Which he isn’t going to lose over merely being a dirty-dealing crook.

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