Subscribe via RSS Feed

Author Page for Scott Lemieux

rss feed

Draining the Swamp!

[ 110 ] January 16, 2017 |

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.


Donald Trump is Highly Unpopular

[ 106 ] January 16, 2017 |

In threads like this one — and I don’t think this is atypical — there’s a lot of defeatism about opposing Trump. After all, given all that has already come out about him, what can one more negative story accomplish? But one thing people making the “who cares nothing will ever stick” argument seem to be missing is that the negative attacks are, in fact working. Trump is incredibly unpopular. We take it for granted now, but a president elect with underwater approval ratings is historically extraordinary. (Obama was at roughly +60 the week before his inaugural.)

Yes, the ghost of the slave power made Trump president. But as Democrats need to say loudly and often, he was rejected by the voters. And he was rejected by the voters despite the bizarre decision by the mainstream media to savage Clinton pillar to post over trivial nonsense, the FBI putting its thumb on the scale, Wikileaks and very likely Russia ratfucking the DNC, etc. etc. And Trump is no longer running in implicit comparison to the she-demon who nearly destroyed America with her socialist and America-hating and neoliberal EMAILS. He’s on his own, and dealing with a Congress that wants to impose Coolidgenomics on a largely unsuspecting America. And while driving down Trump’s approval ratings can’t undo the election, it can make it harder for Republicans to pass stuff, make it easier for Democrats to maintain unity, and it increases the chances of Democratic success in 2018 and 2020.

Again, when it comes to opposing Trump I say let more or less every flower bloom — policy attacks and character attacks from every point on the left spectrum. Who knows what shiny object will attract the media? Hell, twice in 16 years the GOP has gotten presidential elections close enough to steal over fake quotes and email server management. Who knows what will resonate? See what sticks. Hit him on the ACA. Hit him on everything Ryan is trying to do. Hit him on his ongoing corruption. Hit him on his alleged sexual trysts in Moscow. Try everything that might work.

Not Without A Fight

[ 121 ] January 16, 2017 |


More please:

Democrats and labor organizers spent Sunday at dozens of rallies across the country, pledging to fight in Congress against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and any attempt to change Medicare or Medicaid. The party’s leaders faced crowds ranging in size from dozens to thousands of people, urging them to call Republicans and protest the push for repeal.

“Nobody’s gonna shut us up! Nobody’s gonna turn us around!” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the Democrats’ 2016 vice-presidential candidate, at a rally in Richmond that drew a crowd of at least 1,000. “We’re standing in the breach and battling for tens of millions of Americans!”

“Our First Stand,” the catchall theme for the protests, represents one of the earliest protests by an opposition party against an incoming president. Brainstormed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Democratic leaders in Congress, each rally introduced crowds to men and women who had faced death or bankruptcy before the ACA went into effect, then challenged Republicans to listen to their stories. Rattled during the ACA’s passage by tea party protests and raucous congressional town hall meetings, Democrats were flipping the script.

“The immediate goal of the rallies is to show Republicans that the majority of people are against repealing the Affordable Care Act,” Sanders said in an interview this week.

“I think people are waking up to the fact that the Affordable Care Act has been helping tens of millions of Americans,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) after a rally in Bowie organized by Maryland Democrats that drew 1,500 people. “Energizing the public around a common goal can have an important result.”

I also like the basic message here — “The Affordable Care Act is a major accomplishment, and repealing it would cause an unconscionable amount of death and suffering, and we should be focused on making it even better by expanding the public insurance provisions.” I still don’t think there’s any value in the lie that the ACA was a “Republican” plan, but implicitly “moderating” the ACA by noting the superior endpoint is fine.

Is protest guaranteed to work? No. But Republican margins are narrow and there’s no way Republicans can get rid of the ACA that won’t be massively unpopular, plus rather than being led by a president with a focused agenda on the issue they’re dealing with a president who is committing them to things they can’t deliver because he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. And even if Ryan and McConnell can ram repeal through, there’s a second-order goal: ensuring Democratic unity. If Republicans are going to play murder by numbers, make sure they own it in its entirety, increasing the chances Dems will be in a chance to start repairing the damage in 2020.

In related news, enjoy this Republican profile in courage.

NFL Divisional Round Open Thread #2: Welcome to JerryWorld

[ 261 ] January 15, 2017 |

Hopefully we can improve on the .5 of a good game we’ve had so far. Meanwhile, let us savor one of the tiny handful of good things in our horrible political moment, the ritual humiliation of Trump early adopted Chris Christie:

Chris Christie’s job approval is at a career low.

Nearly three-quarters of New Jersey voters, and half his fellow Republicans, said in a recent poll that he should have been a defendant in the trial over the George Washington Bridge lane closings, in which two of his former aides were convicted last month.

And in a stinging turnabout, Bill Stepien, the campaign manager whom Mr. Christie dismissed in the so-called Bridgegate scandal, is expected to become Donald J. Trump’s White House political director, while Mr. Christie was fired as transition chief and shut out of jobs in Mr. Trump’s administration, despite having been one of his earliest big-name supporters.

Welcome home, Governor.

“Governor Christie has been abandoned by virtually everyone,” Krista Jenkins, director of the Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll, said when the findings showing his approval rating at 18 percent were released this month.

Sad. But you can’t give up hope:

Mr. Christie still believes he has a political future nationally. He wants to write a book and his friends have been telling people in New Jersey that the governor expects Mr. Trump to eventually come around to him.

Sure. Volunteer to take charge of the daily KFC delivery to the White House and it will be a done deal.

In Retrospect, Perhaps His Claims Should Have Been Treated With More Skepticism

[ 63 ] January 15, 2017 |


House Snipe-Hunter in Chief Jason Chaffetz wasted countless amounts of taxpayer-provided time and money generating pseudo-scandals out of nothing, and vowed to continue to do so if Clinton won. His conduct perfectly reflected the Clinton Rules: i.e. “We know the Clintons are guilty; the only question is what are they guilty of and when will we find the evidence?” But surely this is about the Checks and Balances and…sorry, I can’t go on:

Of course, Republicans could have left it at that. But Jason Chaffetz, the head of the House Oversight Committee, has decided that not only are blatant ethics and constitutional violations now OK but also that criticizing blatant ethics and constitutional violations is not OK.

On Thursday, Chaffetz opted to go full Salem on the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics, attacking Shaub for having done his job. The Republican threatened to subpoena Shaub if he refuses to participate in an official transcribed behind-closed doors interview. The calculus here seems to be that if nobody sees this crooked behavior by supposed ethics guardians like Chaffetz, then it didn’t happen.

OGE, set up post-Watergate, is nonpartisan and advises executive branch officials on avoiding conflicts. Shaub’s five-year term expires in January 2018.

Chaffetz demanded in a letter that he appear before lawmakers in the aforementioned closed-door, transcribed interview, to answer questions in a deposition-style setting. Richard Painter, who served as the ethics lawyer for George W. Bush, told the New York Times that this was “political retaliation” by Republicans against nonpartisan ethics officers for doing their basic duty.

Chaffetz is, needless to say, a risible hack. He would be an cartoonishly overbroad villain by the standards of House of Cards. And yet, the punchline is that he essentially dictated coverage of the Clinton campaign. And with the help of the ghost of the slave power, one of his pseudo-scandals ended up putting Trump in the White House, where Chaffetz can now ignore his unprecedented corruption and unfitness for office. Just superb work.

Incidentally, Chaffetz is also the perfect representative of another transparently obvious scam that the media eagerly fell for: #NeverTrump. Refuse to endorse Trump when he looks certain to lose, reap the rewards for your Great Integritude, and then quietly endorse Trump the second he has any apparent chance of winning. And, now, Chaffetz will not only allow Trump to do whatever he wants as long as he gets to kill people in exchange for upper-class tax cuts, he will try to silence people who believe the House should make some effort to fulfill its constitutional role.

There should be a lesson about refusing to take Our Benevolent Republican Daddies 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 Care and Food From instead. Ooooh, look over there, Hillary sent some emails!

What a Glorious Time to be Free

[ 259 ] January 14, 2017 |



President-elect Donald Trump added one more insult late Saturday in his ongoing feud with Georgia Rep. John Lewis, urging the Democrat to “finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S.

So an institutional mechanism designed to overrepresent slaveholders, with a major assist from the FBI, installed an overt racist as president. I’d say American constitutionalism seems very robust right now.

The crucial question is not why John Lewis isn’t treating Trump as legitimate, but why other prominent Democrats are.

NFL Divisional Round Open Thread

[ 150 ] January 14, 2017 |


ATLANTA (-6) over Seattle Seahawks fans obviously can’t really complain about much in the Pete Carroll era; getting beaten up in the divisional round still puts you in the upper-middle class of NFL teams. (NOTE: offer void in Texas and Indiana.) And it’s not like the window is permanently slammed shut — the organization has the QB/coach/GM trinity you need to be successful. But today…lesse, and already somewhat declining defense without its most vital player going up against one of the best offenses in NFL history? With the QB far from 100% and missing his #2 receiver, playing behind an offensive line consisting of a college safety, Paul Allen’s most expendable bouncer, and three paper mache pylons? On the road? And Wade Phillips just took over the pass rush Tom Cable couldn’t figure out how to stop when it was being coached by Jeff Fisher and Greggggg Williams? [Dog in burning house “Everything Is Fine” gif]

TEAM TRUMP (-16) over Houston Would Houston beating New England be the biggest upset in NFL playoff history? It would certainly be up there. The famous Beast Quake game in 2011 involved the #19 team in DVOA beating #2, plus the former was at home. This involves #29 on the road against #1. The one negative I can mention about the Pats is that despite the points allowed junk stat, the New England defense is mediocre and has looked superficially better than that only because of favorable field position and a tomato can schedule. You know who’s not well-positioned to take advantage of that? Brock Osweiler and QB GURU Bill O’Brien. (Belichick must be almost as excited about going up against his coaching tree in the playoffs as he is about Inauguration Day.) Let’s just say I don’t expect to have to DVR the Flames/Here Have Yet Another #1 Overall Picks game that starts at 10.

Green Bay (+4 1/2) over Dallas: Now this is more like it — #7 DVOA and going up on the road against #2. The Cowboys are the slightly discounted version of the Pats — an offensive machine only a little bit less efficient than the Falcons and Trumps, and defensively — well, Rod Marinelli has done a hell of a job getting mediocre performance out of mostly replacement-level talent. Green Bay are in the same basic mold but, in 2016, not quite as good on either said of the ball. Having said that, and acknowledging that Nelson is a major loss, the Packers are getting more than a field goal in what looks like a last-team-with-the-ball wins shootout, and Rodgers has a much longer track record of elite performance than Prescott.

KANSAS CITY (-1) over Pittsburgh This game is an object lesson in why I make football picks on a lightly read political blog rather than betting actual money on them. The #5 DVOA team on the road against #6 — doesn’t get much tighter than that. One interesting thing about this matchup is that while the ultimate results were very similar the paths are very different — the Steelers have a higher ceiling but are more erratic, the Chiefs are more consistent but Captain Checkdown and their bend-but-don’t-break defense won’t beat the Steelers if they play as well as they’re capable of playing. Which Steelers team will we get? Beats me, but I’ll put my non-money on Andy Reid off a bye week at Arrowhead. Slow-but-steady will get to run an 8-minute 4th quarter drive down 10 at Foxboro next week.

Good Morning America!

[ 288 ] January 14, 2017 |


Just great:

President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday accused Rep. John Lewis of not doing enough for his district after the Georgia lawmaker and civil rights icon said he doesn’t see the “president-elect as a legitimate president.”

“Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to……mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!” Trump wrote in a series of two tweets.

Trump’s comments came after Lewis questioned Trump’s victory in the presidential race. Lewis also testified against Trump’s pick for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). Lewis has said he won’t attend Trump’s inauguration.

Personal to Jim Comey and Dean Baquet: Heckuva job, really.

The Further Adventures of James Comey, Straight-Shooting Man of Nonpartisan Integritude

[ 160 ] January 13, 2017 |


“You asked for a miracle, Donald?”

James Comey, who threw the election to Donald Trump by repeatedly violating norms and regulations to falsely imply that Hillary Clinton was a crook, refuses to be candid about the FBI’s investigation Trump’s relationship with the Russians even in private:

Embattled FBI director James Comey has refused to clarify whether his organization is investigating Donald Trump’s ties to Russia in a closed briefing on Friday for members of Congress, angering legislators who recall his high-profile interjections about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign, the Guardian has learned.

Comey’s lack of candor in a classified setting, intended to brief members on the intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia interfered in the election to benefit Trump, follows a public rebuff this week to senators seeking clarification.

In that earlier hearing, Comey said he would “never comment” on a potential FBI investigation “in an open forum like this”, raising expectations among some attendees of Friday’s briefing that Comey would put the issue to rest in a classified setting.

But according to sources attending the closed-door Friday morning meeting, that was not the case. As such, frustration with Comey was bipartisan and heated, adding to intense pressure on the director of the FBI, whose conduct in the 2016 election itself is now being investigated by an independent US justice department watchdog.

Even in post-parody America, this is astounding conduct.

Here’s the thing: Obama should fire Comey. He should explain exactly why he’s being fired. Every day Comey remains the FBI Director helps to normalize a stolen election. And if the alleged downside is that Trump could appoint a director who’s a mendacious hack who would let Republicans do whatever they want, I have some news: we already have one.

Bobo In Fantasyland

[ 122 ] January 13, 2017 |


If Paul Ryan wants to strip health care from millions of people to help pay for massive upper-class tax cuts, David Brooks’s job as he conceives of it is to defend him. As you would expect, his collection of implausible abstractions, random anecdotes, and complaints that Ken Arrow isn’t really hip anymore in defense of the proposition that markets in health care work fail to mention — let alone grapple with — the fact that every other liberal democracy 1)has less “market-driven” health care and 2)provides universal coverage for considerably less money.

But, really, you could just stop right here:

They’re probably going to agree to cover everybody Obama covered

Sure. And Julian Assange was indifferent about the outcome of the 2016 elections. But it gets better:

The Republicans are going to try to introduce more normal market incentives into the process. They are probably going to rely on refundable tax credits and health savings accounts so everybody can afford to shop for their own insurance and care.

Whoa, whoa, wait, what?

everybody can afford to shop

This is truly a masterpiece of bullshit. Your standard-issue hack would merely handwave about how Paul Ryan’s health savings accounts and massively underfunded leper colonies high-risk pools would magically cover as many people as the ACA. But Brooks preemptively praises Paul Ryan for giving consumers the opportunity “to shop” for health care. And, indeed, pretty much anybody will be able to go on the internets and look at some plans that meet the exacting standards South Dakota or Delaware have established for insurance quality. Now, whether you can buy any of these plans, or whether they would actually provide you meaningful access to health care if you did…that’s another question. But, hey, David Brooks once saw an ad for relatively cheap laser eye surgery once so I’m sure the market will be able to sort all of this out! You’ll probably be able to cancer treatments at the Applebee’s salad bar.

Needless to say, the freedom to shop is the merging Republican party line — the favored euphemism is “universal access.” RyanCare, in its majestic equality, will allow the rich and poor alike the theoretical opportunity to shop for health insurance plans. And when the result is millions of people being stripped of their health insurance and millions more getting much worse insurance, don’t worry — Ryan fluffers like Brooks and Cillizza will be just fine.

A Trumped-Up Supreme Court

[ 60 ] January 13, 2017 |


I have a piece in Mic about how one of the greatest tragedies of the people’s second choice winning the presidency is that Republicans may be able to impose a constitutional vision on voters that have consistently rejected it for decades:

It would be one thing if Republicans had persuaded the American public about the merits of their neoconfederate constitutional vision. But they haven’t. The Democrats have now won the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections. Going back to 1964, they have won the popular vote eight times, Republicans six. But Republicans have controlled the Supreme Court since early in the Nixon administration, and will be able to continue this into at least a sixth decade.

Thanks to the Electoral College — that anachronistic and indefensible mechanism the Constitution uses to select the president — putting the popular vote loser in the White House twice in 16 years, along with institutional failures such as the Supreme Court’s lawless resolution of the election in 2000, the FBI putting a thumb on the scale in the last days of the 2016 election and widespread vote suppression in both 2000 and 2016, Republicans have maintained a stranglehold on the Supreme Court while representing an increasingly narrow coalition.

At this stage of American constitutionalism, the most anti-democratic institutional features all have a mutually reinforcing effect. Just hope that the decisions of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer to remain on the Court rather than allowing Obama to nominate their replacements don’t make the selection of Trump even more catastrophic.

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.

Page 1 of 88712345...102030...Last »