Three Things: In the Debris Field After Health Care ‘Freedom’ Act

I still don’t have enough caffeine in my system and it’s nearly noon here. An entire pot of java may do the trick. As I rouse and read the hot takes after the failure of H.R. 1628 last night, a few thoughts stick with me.

~ 3 ~

All the think pieces — most written by white men lauding John McCain’s maverick move by departing from the party line — are evidence ‘the show’ worked.
McCain called it that when asked before the vote last night which way he was going. “Watch the show,” he said.

Meanwhile, the two women senators who have been firm all along they couldn’t vote for a bill causing damage to their constituents receive far fewer plaudits from the same mostly-white-male pundit class. Murkowski had been threatened by the Interior Secretary at Trump’s request. I haven’t heard for certain, but I’ll bet Collins received threats as well, probably from Trump-supporting constituents.

McCain won’t get those kinds of threats. He made his point last night about the power he wields within GOP Senate caucus as the final A/B switch on legislation. But the GOP Senate already knew this.

What McCain did was give the GOP a face-saving way to vote for a piece of shit they didn’t want to pass, without the repercussions Collins and Murkowski (and at varying times, Heller and Capito) have faced for rejecting a POS bill.

This is why they waited until the last goddamned minute to draft a meager eight-pages, slapping in some egregious stuff to ensure Collins and Murkowski couldn’t vote, adding the 20% annual premium increase as a coup de grace.

Because McCain would do the maverick kabuki for them, slap on his mask and robes, make big gestures and kill the bill for them.

And it worked not only because all the white male pundit class got suckered by their usual privileged blindness, but the white male Tweeter-in-Chief bought it, hook, line, sinker. He blamed all the Democrats and three GOP senators. All the other senators are off the hook.

Bonus: McCain’s legacy is salvaged with the patriarchal punditry.

Great ‘show’, maverick.

~ 2 ~

Scaramucci is nothing more than a highly-animated automaton on a stage; nothing he says is real. Why? Because the real communications are being run out of house by Steve Bannon, and likely in violation of federal law.

What is it and to whom is Bannon really communicating for the White House?
This operation may be in violation of the Antideficiency Act, but is it also in violation of the Presidential Records Act? What about any other regulations regarding FOIA?

Don’t believe me about Scaramucci’s role? Take a look at your news feed and point to any announcement about his firing or resignation. You know damned well had a communications director acted like he has under any other previous administration he’d have been walked out the White House’s fence.

p.s. Some say Scaramucci’s lowering discourse. Come the fuck on. He talks the way all of Wall Street’s white males do. The misogynist crack about Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ appearance? Par for the course.

~ 1 ~

Recommended lunch hour read for you: a book review by Andrew Bacevich in London Review of Books on The General v. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War by H.W. Brands. Bacevich’s background here.

Putting this book on my shopping list after this review, given how much power Trump has given and is likely to give to the military, breaking with civilian control.

~ 0 ~

That’s it for now. I’m stewing on something else but it’ll be dedicated and not an open thread like this one. Hasta pasta.

30 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Thanks. The discrepancy between the Roman triumph treatment for hero John McCain and the dismissal of the work done by Collins and Murkowski and others is reprehensible. As usual, it puts misogyny and theater above policy and substance.

    This is a massive Republican failure. But it is a temporary reprieve for Americans and their health care options. BTW, how are Congress and Mueller getting on in investigating Russia’s influence over Trump and the 2016 election? And where’s the cowardly Napoleorange, his linguistically challenged, unpaid, un-oathed, uncleared, non-employee Scaramucci, and the running of the US Government?

  2. harpie says:

    I’d like to repost this comment from the other thread:
    Wow! Mazie Hirono [D-HI] also fighting cancer, also flew a long distance to vote “no” on this bill. Her floor speech  before the vote. [Really worth the time!]
    And, important to remember

    John McCain’s moment was made possible because Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski refused, for months, to budge


  3. harpie says:

    Jason Leopold and his team strike again:
    Everyone thinks he was whacked

    The US government ruled Mikhail Lesin’s death an accident, but multiple intelligence and law enforcement officials suspect it was a Russian hit. The government is withholding information so today BuzzFeed News has filed a lawsuit to pry the records loose.

    “[…] BuzzFeed News filed suit today to compel the swift release of investigative records and other documents about Lesin because American intelligence agencies have said that Russia interfered in the US presidential election, ties to Russia are at the heart of the investigations underway involving President Donald Trump’s campaign, and we have revealed that US intelligence officials suspect Russian involvement in 14 deaths on the territory of one of America’s closest allies, Great Britain. […]”

    • harpie says:

      From Sen. Roger F. Wicker’s 7/29/14 letter requesting DoJ investigate Mr. Lesin [linked in BuzzFeed piece] [typos mine]:

      […] Mr. Lesin, whose name was suggested by some groups for inclusion on a U.S. sanctions list under the Magnitsky Act, may also have close business ties with individuals subject to U.S. sanctions. In 2013, Mr. Lesin was appointed to his current position as Director-General of Gazprom Media Holding, Russia’s largest media group. Gazprom Media is owned by Gazprombank, the financial arm of the Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom. Gazprombank is closely linked through its management structure to Bank Rossiya, which is owned by Mr. Yury Kovalchuk. Both Bank Rossiya and Yury Kovalchuk are currently subject to sanctions by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets control as of March 20, 2014 under Executive Order 13661. […]

      • Rayne says:

        Thanks, harpie, had just seen Leopold’s tweet about Lesin in my timeline. BTW, I’ve stripped out a few extra blank lines in your comments to improve readability on mobile devices (less scrolling). Also removed the unique identifier in the BuzzFeed link. I like Jason’s work but not enough for BF to keep an eye on us for traffic, ya’ know?

          • SpaceLifeForm says:

            Remove from any URL the ‘?” to the end.
            That kills tracking info.

            There possibly can be more, but that it the easy first option.

            Back to this topic: Do not assume that Lesin was killed by Russia. He may have been a double agent for one IC group that did not want him to talk to diff IC group.

          • Rayne says:

            What SLF said — here’s a pic of the URL before and after the ID has been stripped.

            Copy the URL to a basic text editor like Notepad, cut the ID off, then copy the URL and paste as usual.

            Not a bad security practice to check all URLs by examining them in Notepad as plain text before sharing.

  4. greengiant says:

    Collins and Murkowski were taking names and numbers. Sasse and Graham are sending up flares to discourage Trump from firing Sessions. The GOP has a problem with the politics of destruction. Who do you think is going to be blamed when there is nothing but rubble left?

  5. Rugger9 says:

    I’ll agree Murkowski and Collins did much of the heavy lifting, but they still prevented Garland from being on SCOTUS (as did McCain), but I’ll take the wins where they are.  This was bigger than you might think.

    The reason is that a conference committee would not be a guaranteed event, because McConnell’s bill was not a modification of the House bill, it originated in the Senate after McConnell pronounced the House bill politically DOA.  So, if it had passed Speaker Ryan would then ram it through the House un-amended and Trump would have signed it this afternoon which he really really REALLY wanted to do, bigly.  Conference only occurs when changes are made to the other chamber’s bill.  That, I think, is the real reason why Ryan would not commit to a conference-ready outcome (as if “commitment” makes any difference to these weasels).  Ryan get to deflect the heat to the Senate either way, because he has no bill even though his house sent one to the Senate or (if it passed) he just followed what would make it through the Senate knowing most of the Freedom Caucus dreams were in it.

    I do not know if the Senate can still revisit the House bill since I haven’t seen a vote saying it was rejected.  Until that is dead keep after them.

    As I noted in another thread, Scaramucci is not even sworn into government service, so exactly how is he able to use taxpayer money or stand at an official lectern as a representative of this administration?  Does he even have executive privilege or are his conversations with POTUS protected in any way since he still hasn’t taken the oath of office? He’s not DJT’s lawyer as far as we know, nor is he described as part of the legal team.

    • Rayne says:

      In re: Garland — In Murkowski’s case, I can see why she would have supported party line as she was up for re-election last year. But since Garland was never up for a vote, it’s a non-issue. Blame lies solely with GOP leadership.

      In re: Scaramucci — He’s exactly what they want, a combination firebrand/sin eater/monkey on loan. He’s not their monkey even if it’s their circus; they can blame him, put all sorts of crap at his doorstep right now, because he’s not theirs ~yet~. He may never be theirs, either. What’s in it for him if not pay? Higher profile and the outcome of his sale of Skybridge (to China?), I imagine.

      Look at it this way: he’s their Milton from Office Space. They can give him all kinds of (unpaid) scut work, shunt him off to the side when necessary. Will he burn the place down looking for his red stapler? Possibly — but with the place already smouldering, he’ll be doing their dirty work for them.

      • Rugger9 says:

        However, as I see it if Mueller hauls him in or the committees want to talk to him about what he said with Napoleorange, he can’t claim any kind of privilege to dodge questions.

  6. harpie says:

    Sally Yates in the NYT today:

    The president is attempting to dismantle the rule of law.

    Trump in LI to cheering police officers today:

    Please don’t be too nice. […] You can take the hand away, OK?


        • harpie says:

          Yancey RoyVerified account@YanceyRoy [Newsday’s Albany bureau chief.]

          In Suffolk County, where former police chief is serving a federal prison sentence for beating a prisoner and orchestrating a cover-up

        • harpie says:

          And the Suffolk County Police Department responds:

          The SCPD has strict rules & procedures relating to the handling of prisoners. Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously. / As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.

      • harpie says:

        And now, this:
        ABC News PoliticsVerified account @ABCPolitics

        NEW: International Association of Chiefs of Police issues statement on use of force following Trump’s speech to law enforcement officers. [7:38 AM – 29 Jul 2017]

    • bmaz says:

      Hi Bjorn, and welcome to Emptywheel as, at least it appears, you are new. Completely agree about the point of the post, but it was Rayne that wrote the post, not Marcy.

      That said, this blog has been on to the McCain crazy train self serving shuffle for a very long time:

      For instance, see here from back in 2008


  7. orionATL says:

    you won’t get a better overview of what has been happening to governing in the u. s. over the last decade, and most certainly in the last 7 months, than this column by paul waldman (who writes with greg sargent at wapo) :

    it’s not just the federal government. don’t forget kansas, or texas, or florida, or the desperately poor deep south states who refused to expand medicaid for their poorest citizens.

    hard-hearted republican bastards creating one disfunctional government after another – funded by the kochsucker octopus, club for growth, hyper-rich republican families, the chamber of commerce, etc., and guided by ALEC, the federalist society, and a whole lot of ivy-league grads.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    So.  The president of the United States tells local law enforcement officers to assault people they arrest.  Another promise broken:

    “I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    I guess el presidente feels that if someone is arrested, she must be a bad person and deserves to be civilly wronged and abused under color of law.  There, amending the Constitution wasn’t as hard as repealing Obamacare.

  9. Avattoir says:

    I think Rayne here captures precisely what was going on last night. For the House GOP to go Repeal and Destroy makes sense for that grotesquely gerrymandered Chamber heading into 2018. But last night’s outcome suits McConnell’s hopes for 2018 cementing GOP iron control of the Senate, not just for 2018 & going into 2010 but for the indefinite future, better than any other I can think of.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Hindsight suggests that Scaramucci knew Trump had decided to fire Priebus when he gave the interview to Lizza. Little else would explain the profanity and open disgust to a source Moochie knew would publish it. Without that knowledge, any normal comms director would have been fired before the smoke cleared.

    That gave Trump and his well-coiffed alter ego a threefer: a Trumpian humiliation of Priebus, a complaint that a reporter violated some promise not to accurately quote Mooch’s violent accusations about his nominal boss, a distraction from the real news of the day. A three-ring Trumpus.

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