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Love Is Always Scarpering, Or Cowering, Or Fawning

[ 104 ] January 12, 2017 |


This month’s Cillizza Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field Of Hackdom goes to…Chris Cillizza:


You can watch Ryan’s comments about health care yourself, but they’re evasive gibberish when they’re not outright dishonest. The idea that state high-risk pools — especially at the levels the GOP would plausibly fund them — could effectively cover people with pre-existing conditions is a joke. (More here.) The claim that insurance markets are in a “death spiral” is a flat-out lie. His assertions that the proposed Republican reforms would provide better and cheaper policy options was supported by no detail whatsoever. Ryan, as always, is the anthithesis of impressive, and yet his media reputation as a Real Wonky Man of Seriousity never fades.

To be Scrupulously Fair, Ryan’s primary goal to offer worse or no health insurance to more than 20 million people to pay for upper-class tax cuts does has not, to the best of my knowledge, deviated from best practices in email management.


Comments (104)

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  1. ΧΤΠΔ says:

    I still say Jack Shafer was robbed of the “2016 Hack of the Year” Award, though John Cole’s reactions were priceless.

  2. I read that Harold Pollack essay on high-risk pools … BO-RING. Paul Ryan has a nice smile and speaks in complete sentences. He is a marvel!

  3. howard says:

    just what is it that his employers see in cillizza?

    • thebewilderness says:

      Frat boy charm? Dunno. I don’t see it, whatever it is, in Ryan or Cilliza

      • humanoid.panda says:

        Maybe they use him as a crash test dummy. Most people are low info voters, able to grasp policies only in shallow bits and pieces. Who better to capture the way the swing voter grasps politics than an absolute moron?

    • Abbey Bartlet says:

      At this point I just assume he has some dirt on Bezos.

      • Phil Perspective says:

        Why? He was there doing the same garbage before it became the BezosPost. He obviously serves his purpose to the owners, who ever they are.

      • efgoldman says:

        I just assume he has some dirt on Bezos.

        Bezos appears not to pay attention to the contents of the paper. Marty Baron, though, is a superior editor. I can’t believe that he puts up with it.

        • Procopius says:

          I dunno. Charles P. Pierce keeps saying how Marty Baron is a great editor, and maybe he was at the Boston Globe, but I sure haven’t seen it since he took over at Pravda on the Potomac. It’s just continued to go downhill under his stewardship. Now the rest of the paper is as bad as Fred Hiatt’s Home for Unemployable Neocons. Seems to be even worse than it was in 2002-3. They don’t seem to make any effort to verify any story that supports the government propaganda line.

          • Origami Isopod says:

            There is a lot of worship of Marty Baron among Boston journalists, especially Irish-American men of a certain age. I agree with you that I don’t see any evidence in the modern WaPo that Baron is much of an editor, at least these days.

        • liberal says:

          Bezos appears not to pay attention to the contents of the paper.


    • JKTH says:

      A lot of news organizations seem to think it’s a good idea to employ completely policy-illiterate people to talk about politics, not just WaPo.

    • joel hanes says:

      just what is it that his employers see in cillizza?

      Celebrity gossip columnist that they can run on the pages that men read. Clickbait, in other words … “Hot Topics” On The Potomac.

    • SFAW says:

      Maybe they’re confused, and think he’s Ryan Lizza? Or maybe Olivia Nuzzi? All those ZZZZs, it’s SO confusing!

  4. jim, some guy in iowa says:

    I suppose if you have just come from watching Trump put on his show someone who talks like he *might* have a clue would seem extremely impressive

    • Cheap Wino says:

      This is so maddeningly, frustratingly true. So damn easy for Rs to be empty suits.

      • LosGatosCA says:

        Chris Buckley summed up Republicans pretty well back in 2008.

        They lie, they’re corrupt, they’re all about tough love for other people.

        So when they do it, like Cheney and Bush and Nixon and Reagan really all they are saying is we’re open for business.

        It’s their brand – they don’t give a shit about anything but money and being weasels in any way they need to be to help their donors accumulate it. The Laugher Curve, supply side economics, death panels, whatever – it doesn’t have to work, it just has to sell.

    • jdkahler says:

      This would be a possibility if this Cillizza guy had been in isolation for the last, say, 20 years and only had contact with 3 year olds or folks with advanced dementia. Like, say, Donald Trump. Since there’s evidence Cillizza has actually not been in isolation, well, if you don’t consider DC the bubble chamber it can be, yeah, he’s not just a hack, but a hack who has been out to destroy programs he does not need in Paul Ryan’s Ian Rand play for making Murkia Great Again.

  5. thebewilderness says:

    The zombie eyed granny starver claims that tax payers fund abortion through the magic of all that fungible monies they give to Planned Parenthood to reimburse them for pap smears, prostate exams, and mammograms. Why does he lie? Because he can.

    • Cassiodorus says:

      The other problem with the fungible argument is that even if you accept it, it’s an argument that proves too much. If funding one program an outlet does means you fund them all, how is money given to things like Catholic charities for adoption not a direct subsidy to the church?

      • Steve LaBonne says:

        Thus, a direct subsidy to child abusers.

      • David Hunt says:

        Two reasons. First and most important, the people who make the fungible argument don’t care about consistency. They only care about what lie will sound good in front of whatever specific portion of the public that they’re targeting at that specific moment.

        Second, the people who are using the fungible lie would actually prefer the government to be directly supporting Christian churches as churches

  6. jim, some guy in iowa says:

    “scarpering” = “escaping”?

    learned something today

  7. Cheap Wino says:

    “. . . but they’re evasive gibberish when they’re not outright dishonest. . .”

    Please let’s just call bullshit bullshit. We know he’s flat out bullshitting. Isn’t this the loophole that the media has squirmed though so consistently? Equivocating about the facts? Please, let’s stop giving any quarter on this. Ryan is flat out bullshitting, none of what he is saying is accurate. He’s a fucking liar.

    Obviously, your assessment is right and decorum says we acknowledge the nuance involved with the specifics of the bullshit. But isn’t it time to start confronting these assholes on their lies? Accepting the nuance in the framing of their bullshit is academically worthy but worthless as far as influencing opinion. And I know that LGM isn’t exactly a public opinion leader but it has a hell of a lot more influence over the tenor of the discussion than, say, my conversations with friends and co-workers.

    More forceful language!

    Also, I’m frustrated and have been drinking. . .

    • Gizmo says:

      Thats exactly the right word. The biggest thing that Ryan and Trump have in common have in common is bullshitting as political strategy. Ryan prefers the pseudo-intellectual approach, while Donald flings it like an alcoholic aluminum siding salesman.

      • Joe Bob the III says:

        The difference between a liar and a bullshitter is the liar maintains awareness of what the truth is, so they can avoid it. The bullshitter doesn’t even know, or necessarily care, what’s true or what isn’t.

        • LosGatosCA says:

          Lying or bullshitting?

          It’s like stupid or evil – most of the time it’s both.

        • AdamPShort says:

          Agreed; the distinction for me is that a lie is targeted – its aim is to cover up some specific truth. Bullshit is not targeted – it is designed to cover up whatever the truth might be.

          • dn says:

            My take on Frankfurt: bullshit’s purpose is to impress the listener with a sense of the bullshitter’s awesomeness. Truth has nothing to do with it, even in the abstract. The listener may even realize that it’s bullshit, and yet the bullshit can still accomplish its goal. Like with Trump and the wall – even most Trump voters probably understand it’s bullshit but they like the attitude it represents.

            • rm says:

              Indeed, a lot of Trump voters are counting on Trump not following through on his bullshit. Like, they expect to keep their ACA-derived health insurance.

              Some bullshitters are demonstrating charm or puckish irreverence, though. Trump uses it to perform bullying dominance rituals.

    • Tom Till says:

      Please, let’s stop giving any quarter on this. Ryan is flat out bullshitting, none of what he is saying is accurate. He’s a fucking liar.

      But pointing that out hurts his feelings. And in U.S. politics there is no greater sin than calling out that nice Paul Ryan for his lies, bullshit, and Randian gibberish. After all, how can someone that Serious, Wonkish, Seriously Wonkish and, well, just so nice be full of shit?

      • Domino says:

        Paul Ryan wants to take away the ability of poor people to improve their life, in the name of cutting taxes for the wealthy.

        That is full stop what he wants. I don’t give a shit what is in his heart, or what his passions are, or how great of a father he is. He will make life worse for the already suffering, all so Mitt Romney can pay a lower tax rate.

        That’s evil. There is no other way to describe it.

        • oaguabonita says:

          Yes. This. Message needs to be that succinct and simple, consistently; with one small suggested addendum: “PEOPLE WILL DIE” when they otherwise would not have from the zombie-eyed granny-starver getting his way.

  8. StellaB says:

    I called my congressman today as several people urged me to do. My question was referred to their “healthcare specialist”, a young woman who knew nothing about health care, health care through emergency rooms, health insurance, Medicaid, death spirals, or even fucking Schedule A deductions. She informed me that a very tiny adjustment to itemized deductions will be nearly as helpful to the working poor as subsidies are now and that care is available through ERs. As a good Libertarian, she is looking forward to the day she is no longer forced to buy insurance. I hope she then gets lymphoma and gets a quick lesson about chemotherapy in the ER (hint: not available).

    • jim, some guy in iowa says:

      I suppose telling her chemo wasn’t an ER service wouldn’t have registered with her either… I need a drink, something strong…

    • Gizmo says:

      Super. Another libertarian freeloader gets government employment.

    • Abbey Bartlet says:

      I hope she then gets lymphoma and gets a quick lesson about chemotherapy in the ER (hint: not available).

      Ah, a woman after my own heart.

      -Bartlet, formerly of Gallifrey

    • ColBatGuano says:

      She informed me that a very tiny adjustment to itemized deductions will be nearly as helpful to the working poor

      Yes, the working poor often itemize their deductions.

    • Shakezula says:

      It gives me a little hope that they’re back to ERs are health care for the masses. It was one of those statements that made everyone realize how little the GOP cared about health care.

      • Davis X. Machina says:

        Wait till they repeal EMTALA….

        “It’s bankrupting all those private, for-profit hospital chains that we count on for contributions!”

      • ringtail says:

        I don’t know if it actually registers with people who aren’t already on board, ie a preaching to the choir situation.

        I once said offhandedly to my father that whatever we think about his policies, at least we can all agree that Obama saved thousands, maybe tens or hundreds of thousands, of lives through Obamacare. He blew up, saying that it didn’t save *any* lives because emergency care has always been available. I then returned that under that theory preventative care has no value, doesn’t save any lives and it would be most efficient for him to cancel his insurance and stop getting regular checkups for his various chronic health conditions. To which he had no real reply.

        I offer this because if an educated, professional and not completely close-minded person can believe that, I don’t hold out hope that people are going to see through the GOP’s bullshit here.

        The other anecdote/anecdata I love throwing out about healthcare is the vast reduction in displays asking for charity at gas stations and feed stores. When I was a kid *every* gas station and feed store I can remember had a jar with a picture of a local person who was in dire financial straits because of a catastrophic injury or other serious medical condition. Now I can’t remember the last time I saw one. Some of that is probably because it has moved online, but I have to believe some of it is because there are fewer people left hat-in-hand with a total lack of health insurance. My point is that this was no secret, it was something you saw every time you dropped into these businesses and rural red-state people still opposed the ACA.

        It’s a terrible situation because I think the people who don’t immediately need coverage are going to continue to not want it (until they need it) and the people who are benefiting from coverage now are going to be hurt when it’s withdrawn, plus I’m not even sure the outrage when that happens will do anything.

        • MPAVictoria says:

          “The other anecdote/anecdata I love throwing out about healthcare is the vast reduction in displays asking for charity at gas stations and feed stores.”

          For what its worth I see these requests everywhere online. One poor person I follow has been trying to raise money for months to fund a needed dental operation.

        • liberal says:

          I then returned that under that theory preventative care has no value…

          While I’m a big fan of preventive care in principle, a lot of it is not worth very much.

          AFAICT, OTOH, a really, really big win is rational, planned management of chronic conditions (think e.g. asthma).

          • Shakezula says:

            Without preventive care you’re left with luck and acute care.

            Part of preventive care is to catch conditions early (screening) the other part is to prevent them from becoming acute. Asthma vs. an asthma attack. Colon cancer in its early stages vs. colon cancer that has metastasized.

        • Shakezula says:

          I’m not seeing how the fact that it won’t change the minds of people whose minds were already made up matters.

          Just go to the ER pissed off stakeholders like hospitals and health care professionals that know the huge costs associated with people using an ER as a primary care provider. (That it horrified non-stakeholders and made a nice bullet point is a bonus.)

        • cpinva says:

          “He blew up, saying that it didn’t save *any* lives because emergency care has always been available.”

          this assumes there is an ER within a reasonable distance of those needing care. while this is probably true in cities and suburban areas, it isn’t always the case in rural areas.

          I was in one of the local ER’s last night, with my daughter. not one of the people I talked to wanted to be there (including me and my daughter), but they or their loved one had a problem that couldn’t wait until regular office hours. yes, agreed, it’s really rude of people to become ill or injured before 8am and after 5pm, they should do a better job of scheduling these things. these people were fortunate that there are two regional hospitals, with ER’s, located within 10 miles of each other. go down to the SW part of VA, not so much. before the ACA, poor people used the ER’s as their “regular” doctor. not true nowadays. they use the ER’s for what they were designed for, emergency care, but there still has to be an ER available.

        • rm says:

          I see some online, and often it is because even with insurance, they end up financially ruined by the co-pays, 20% or 30% of bills owed, AND THEN the practice of “balance billing,” where the provider comes after you for the part of their nominal charge that insurance won’t cover because it is beyond reasonable. And if you don’t pay up, it kills your credit score.

          ON THE OTHER HAND, because I’m socially hooked into some right-wing Christian social networks, I more often see these appeals from families who refused to buy insurance under the ACA because it is Socialism, which is the Antichrist, and having to get insurance is the Mark of the Beast. Then there is a car accident, or the father has a heart attack. It is harder to work up sympathy for these folks.

      • Procopius says:

        I’m sorry, but not everyone came to realize that the GOP does not care about health care. Many, many people voted for Trump because they assumed he was lying about repealing ACA. It seems to me to be a strange way to reason, but that’s what they’ve told pollsters since the election.

  9. Even if Cillizza did understand health policy, it wouldn’t affect his assessment. He’s a bad mimeograph of Chris Matthews — the only thing he cares about is surface appearances and who won the news cycle. “This is good/bad” and “This looks good/bad” are the same thing in the stunted, crude mass he has in lieu of a brain.

  10. Judas Peckerwood says:

    Anyone who comes upon Chris Cillizza and fails to punch him in the face and kick him in the nuts is no friend of mine.

    Sorry if that violates any LGM commenting rules.

  11. Jackson87 says:

    When you have the Chrome extension that turns pictures of Trump into pictures of kittens, the title of this post matches the photo extremely well.

    • MAJeff says:

      I am so loving that extension.

    • Marlowe says:

      This was the first I heard of the extension, which I just installed. It’s great, but unfortunately because of the way it works (the Drumpfenfuhrer needs to be identified in the image description) the vulgar orange yam still slips through quite often. (And doesn’t Charlie Pierce have a way with words?)

  12. Love Is Always Scarpering, Or Cowering, Or Fawning

    You drink yourself insensitive and hate yourself in the morning…

  13. dogboy says:

    Rep. Steve King said yesterday that we could solve this whole health care thing with 3 simple tricks- block grants to states, high risk pools, and fck you die already, freedom requires that the tree of liberty be fertilized with the blood of the poor and infirm.

  14. sanity clause says:

    The thing that bugs me most not just about Cillizza but most of the Washington Press Corpse is that THIS IS THEIR #*¢&ING DAY JOB and they still can’t be bothered to learn half as much about policy as the average person who comments here knows.

    Sometimes I wish I could sneak into the wings of one of those Sunday political talk shows, and while the cameras are rolling, come out, shove one of the dimwits aside, and say, “I have a real day job, and I still know five times as much about all this shit as you do. Gimme your job, dammit!”

  15. smott999 says:

    Watching how Ryan is fawned upon makes me more certain than ever that the Dems have to come up with a Media Darling in the next cycle, if there is one.
    A Darling in the mold of a Ryan or an Obama.

    Or simply the opposite of say Gore or HRC.

    • rm says:

      Sadly, experts who know their stuff and can run complex organizations are hated as candidates. And they tell me our society has embraced nerds — not in politics, it hasn’t.

  16. smott999 says:

    As far as Cillzza and his hackery, I think we all can agree he was on his game with this one…

    Tough to beat!

  17. Epicurus says:

    He’s an impressive bullshit artist, that is certain. A fine hypocrite, too! Did you hear the one about the guy who went through college on his Social Security checks, got elected to Congress and suddenly decided there was no such thing as a free lunch (for other people…)? Pierce has him nailed, the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver. I’m not “impressed.”

  18. ASV says:

    Laundering Paul Ryan will always be Ezra Klein’s greatest sin.

  19. Bob says:

    Go to the CNN video and click on the tab titled “Ryan breaks down problems with Obamacare”
    That is why I have come to loathe conservatives. I was a Republican opposed to the ACA until I got sick and needed it to survive and now I think it’s a great thing.
    It was hard for me to watch that without wishing that man dead. A horrible thought I know, but how many innocent people did his prior beliefs condemn to death? Why is his life so effin important?
    Can we amend the Constitution so from now on you get to live in the world you vote for? That way those of supporting health care for all get health care. Those who oppose health care for all while healthy get to live without health care when sick. Sorry, no takebacks.

    • liberal says:

      I was a Republican opposed to the ACA until I got sick and needed it to survive and now I think it’s a great thing.

      Well, you’re a rare Republican—one who could can actually change his mind when presented with evidence. (Cf Keynes quote.)

      It was hard for me to watch that without wishing that man dead.

      Yeah, well, uh, in my angrier moments I think of the Angel of Death…no, won’t go there.

      • Bob says:

        Sorry, I did a bad job on that comment. The “I was a Republican opposed to the ACA…” part was a direct quote from a man who asked Ryan a question during the Town Hall.
        My point was that of course Republicans can change their minds when presented with evidence, as long as said evidence involves either the person speaking or a family member.
        Think “gays should be discriminated against” until son or daughter comes out of the closet followed by “I was a Republican opposed to gay rights until….”.
        Or “…unemployment benefits encourage sloth and should be done away with…” until laid off and unable to find a job followed by “…I was a Republican opposed to unemployment benefits until I lost my job….”.

  20. DrDick says:

    It has become increasingly clear that the people writing for our “news media” are actively discouraged from acquiring any knowledge or expertise on the topics they cover and are contractually obligated to accept whatever horseshit the Republicans throw at them.

    • liberal says:

      “Acquiring any knowledge or expertise on the topics they cover” would mean they were no longer “objective”. All the prevailing paradigm really permits them to do is recount claims from “both sides” and either say the truth is somewhere in the middle, or just defer to the right-wing claims entirely.

  21. liberal says:

    Cillizza isn’t very bright. Such people are often snookered when confronted with not-very-bright pseudointellectuals like Ryan. That’s entirely apart from whatever ideological baggage C. carries around.

    Actually, Ryan doesn’t even rise to the level of “pseudointellectual”.

  22. Origami Isopod says:

    Did Cillizza get a tingle up his leg, watching that video?

  23. […] millions more getting much worse insurance, don’t worry — Ryan fluffers like Brooks and Cillizza will be just […]

  24. ForkyMcSpoon says:

    I don’t understand the appeal of Cillizza at all. What is the point of reading his opinion about anything What do you learn beyond what you’d get from the basic news headlines?

    Also he pronounces his name wrong. It’s chee-LEET-sah, not sill-LIZZ-uh. As an Italian-American, I judge him.

  25. DavidNYC says:

    Terrific hed. It quotes a lyric from the end of Elvis Costello’s brilliant song, “Man Out of Time“:

    Love is always scarpering or cowering or fawning /
    You drink yourself insensitive and hate yourself in the morning

  26. […] seriously, but instead I’m guessing we’re going to get another round the million of Paul Ryan, Impressive Policy Wonk Who Sincerely Cares About the Poor People He Wants To Take Health … instead. Ooooh, look over there, Hillary sent some […]

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