October 23, 2019 / by 


Rocket Pitches A No Hitter; DOJ Whiffs A Golden Sombrero+2

Six up, and six down for William Roger Clemens. From Jim Bambach at Newsday:

Former Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens was acquitted Monday on all six counts in his trial on charges he lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs, ending a 41/2-year battle to clear his name.

The jury deliberated for less than 12 hours before reaching a verdict, capping a two-month trial at which 46 witnesses appeared, including the wives of Clemens and accuser Brian McNamee.

Yep, six counts alleged, six counts acquitted on. Not a hit on any of them. And if the jury deliberations had not have been broken up by a weekend, the verdict may well not have taken even the nine plus hours it did. From the clear call of the unanimous verdicts, I would also hazard a guess that the jury may not even have been out the short time it was but for the fact lead Clemens defense attorney Rusty Hardin opened a wee door in cross-examining the tainted prosecution star witness Brian McNamee, allowing for, eventually superfluous, rebuttal evidence to come in by the DOJ to try to bolster their flawed criminal witness McNamee. Even that was clearly nowhere enough for the wise jury.

The entire substantive DOJ case flowed through two discredited and sham witnesses, Brian McNamee and the always questionable Fed Investigator Jeff Novitsky. If they were not discredited before, let the record reflect they are now.

More from Bambach:

Clemens’ attorney Rusty Hardin called his client “a helluva man.”

“This is a celebration for us,” Hardin said. “Let me tell you something. Justice won out.”

The loss was a blow to the Justice Department and the prosecution, which last year caused a mistrial on the second day of the trial.

Prosecutors declined to comment on their way out of the courthouse.

Yes, the Brave Sir Robin like crack prosecutors at DOJ so ethically turned their heads and fled like Sir Robin. Brave Sir Robin.

The focus, though, is easy to peg on Brian McNamee, and does he deserve it. But, remember, the single person who pushed this puppet theater, in addition to George Mitchell and corporate interest, Bud Selig, was Jeff Novitsky. One still wonders if the story of the MLB, IRS, DEA, HOS/GRC(Waxman/Congress) and Novitsky “workgroup” will ever be fully disclosed; but the surface appearance is not all that attractive.

But, hey, let’s not re-cover what has already been said. Here is how I described the gig in February of 2008:

First off, if the Federal government thinks Roger Clemens was seriously involved in steroid and HGH use and promulgation, investigate and prosecute him. But the government doesn’t give a rat’s ass about that, they are hot after Clemens because he had the audacity to challenge the God/Petraeus like Mitchell report. And make no mistake about it, if you can’t believe the Clemens portion of the Mitchell report, you have to wonder about the the whole thing (save for a few general recommendations) and the quality of work that went into it. As I said below in the comments, the Congress is vested in the Mitchell report Very heavily, because they think it was the implementation of their last little dog and pony show with McGwire, Sosa and Palmeiro (by the way, you don’t see any of those guys being hammered like Clemens do you?) and because George Mitchell is very close to many in the Congressional leadership including, most notably, Henry Waxman. This is all about bucking up the Mitchell report and, additionally, the work of Novitsky, who is in the middle of the whole mess and the Barry Bonds portion, whom they are dying to nail.

The main issue that bugs the bejeebies out of me on this mess is a concept in criminal law known as “parallel prosecution”. Simply put, what this means is multiple prosecutions, by multiple coordinated governmental entities, of one individual, at the same time, usually in an effort to gain advantage over him or deny his ability to effectively defend himself. There are many examples of this in the law, the layman simply doesn’t think about it in those terms, so never really grasps the implications. One common example in drug crimes is the attempt by the government to civilly seize and forfeit the defendant’s property so that he has to give testimony and answer questions in order to keep his property while they are prosecuting him on the underlying criminal case where, of course, he has a 5th Amendment right to silence and to make the government prove his case. The problem with this is that the government is using an artifice to breach the defendant’s 5th Amendment right against giving testimony against himself. If he doesn’t stand in and give testimony and subject himself to full examination, he loses his property because of an alleged crime he has not even been convicted on; if he does fight, he is opening himself up to examination that can be used against him.

This is the problem with the Clemens scenario. Clemens was the big fish in the Mitchell report and, make no mistake about it, Mitchell needed a big fish for his report, and preferably a white one to offset some of the complaints made about the major focus on Barry Bonds in the past. It is my understanding that Mitchell did not originally want to name individuals in his report, but id so after being urged very strongly by congress and MLB to do so. The second that Clemens exercised his right to say “Hey, thats not right, I am innocent”, the weight of the world was reigned down on him. He immediately was accused of lying and became the subject of discussions of criminal charges because he was challenging the credibility of the mighty Mitchell report. But Clemens was not afforded the opportunity to have the Government put up or shut up with their evidence against him and to have his right to test that evidence for weight and veracity. Instead, he was immediately under the combined microscope of the IRS, FBI, DEA and the Department of Justice (yes they are all actively involved in this; you just don’t hear about it). Then, to top it off, the United States Congress starts getting in on the act and compelling testimony under oath. Before he has ever been charged with any crime. All because he had the audacity to say “I am not guilty”. And all of this, at the time of the Mitchell Report, was based on the unsubstantiated tales of a known, proven liar and suspected rapist, with no physical evidence and no corroboration. That is pretty chilling if you ask me.

Evidence counts, and this is always where the real evidence, put to even the most fundamental test, has led. I’ll be honest, for the worthy job the inestimable Rusty Hardin did on this case, the one huge thing he did wrong was to open the door on cross-ex of the government’s witnesses, most notably McNamee for allowance of rebuttal confirmation of McNamee’s alleged honesty as to other MLB players such as Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblaugh. But the jury clearly, and unequivocally, drew a judgment on where the credibility was between McNamee and Novitsky on the one hand, and Roger Clemens, on the other hand. The vote was the latter, and not the former.

The DOJ went six with Roger Clemens and the Rocket no-hit them. And William Roger Clemens hung a Golden Sombrero+2 on the DOJ. Hang that picture with John Edwards, Ted Stevens and Barry Bonds. Not real flattering for the PIN-Heads at DOJ.

[As a well deserved thanks, I would like to point out Jim Baumbach of Newsday, Mike Scarcella of ALM, TJ Quinn of ESPN and Del Wilber of the Washington Post. Their Tweeting and reporting was absolutely incredible, individually and as a whole. I know what scintillating coverage from court, especially the court of Judge Reggie Walton at the DC District Courthouse is all about; over five years ago the owner of this blog and some other kick ass girls (i.e Jane Hamsher, Jeralyn Merritt and Egregious) set the standard. I do not say this gratuitously, the new crew truly did yeoman’s, and incredible, work.]

Oh, and, again, after seeing this dynamic map of the incredible extent of the DOJ investigation of Roger Clemens, any more questions on why DOJ cannot get around to prosecuting banksters??

The Ted Stevens OPR Report: The Return of the DOJ Roach Motel

The long awaited, and much anticipated, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) Report on the misconduct in the Ted Stevens Prosecution has just been delivered to Congress, and thereafter immediately released to the public by the Senate Judiciary Committee. I know this will shock one and all but, at least as to real results, it is fairly weak tea.

Legal Times reports:

A Justice Department internal investigation of the botched prosecution of Ted Stevens concluded two prosecutors committed reckless professional misconduct and should be sanctioned through forced time off without pay.

DOJ officials recommended Joseph Bottini be suspended without pay for 40 days and James Goeke be suspended for 15 days without pay. DOJ did not find that either prosecutor acted intentionally to violate ethics rules, a finding that is contrary to a parallel criminal investigation. Bottini and Goeke have the option to appeal the misconduct finding to the Merit System Protection Board.
Department officials said Bottini and Goeke failed to disclose information a chief government witness, Bill Allen, provided to investigators and prosecutors at a meeting in 2008, before Stevens was charged. Allen’s credibility was central to the prosecution case that Stevens concealed gifts and other items on U.S. Senate financial disclosure forms.

OPR did not make any professional misconduct findings against any of the other Stevens prosecutors, including William Welch II, Brenda Morris and Edward Sullivan. OPR, however, concluded that Morris, then a supervisor in the Public Integrity Section, exercised poor judgment by failing to supervise “certain aspects of the disclosure process.”

A special counsel who conducted a parallel probe of the Stevens team, after the case was dismissed in April 2009, did not recommend criminal charges against any of the Stevens prosecution team.

However, the lawyer, Henry “Hank” Schuelke III, concluded that Goeke and Bottini committed intentional misconduct in concealing exculpatory information. The two prosecutors dispute that finding.

Yeah, that about sums it up.

Cover letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee

Here are all the relevant documents (note: the pdf on the report itself is huge – 672 pages):

Office of Professional Responsibility Report

Bottini Decision

Bottini Disciplinary Proposal

Bottini Response

Goeke Decision

Goeke Disciplinary Proposal

Goeke Response

Goeke Response Appendix

A little more than two years ago I wrote about the inherent worthlessness of the OPR at DOJ:

Most governmental agencies have independent Inspectors General which operate independently of the agency leadership, have jurisdiction of the entire agency including legal counsel, and thus have credibility as somewhat neutral and detached evaluators and voices. Not so the DOJ, who has arrogated upon themselves the sole right to sit in judgment of themselves. This action to grab the exclusive authority for themselves and exclude the independent IG was first accomplished by Attorney General Order 1931-94 dated November 8, 1994 subsequently codified into the Code of Federal Regulations and reinforced through section 308 of the 2002 Department of Justice Reauthorization Act. Just in time for the war on terror legal shenanigans!

Go back and read that post again, I am too tired to write it again and nothing has changed. What a load of bunk the Stevens OPR Report is. Some harsh words for sure, but, as to actual accountability – a rap on the knuckles with a foam ruler.

Ted Stevens lost his Senate seat these twits get an unpaid vacation.

The OPR is STILL The Roach Motel.

C Street Takes Care of The Family’s Sex Problems, Again

Roll Call reports that former Representative (and football star) Steve Largent’s son, Kramer James Largent, got hired as Tom Coburn’s District Staff Assistant. That, in spite of the younger Largent’s conviction on misdemeanor charges of criminal solicitation and sexual harassment.

Sen. Tom Coburn’s decision to hire a former Member’s son who has a criminal record illustrates the latitude lawmakers have to hire as they see fit — and the value of personal connections in a world where information about wrongdoing can be found at a moment’s notice.

The Oklahoma Republican in March brought on Kramer James Largent as a district staff assistant in his Tulsa office, according to the website LegiStorm.
Largent was indicted in July 2006 on four felony counts of the sexual solicitation of a minor under 16. Charging documents obtained from Delaware state court say that when Largent was 19, he met a 15-year-old girl on the Internet and tried to persuade her to meet him “for the purpose of facilitating, encouraging, offering or soliciting a prohibited sexual act.”

He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced to one year of probation for criminal solicitation and sexual harassment, during which he completed court-ordered individual and group therapy for sex offenders.

Credit where it’s due, the Hill actually makes the connection between Coburn, the elder Largent, the Christian cabal “The Family’s” brownstone known as C Street where they shacked up together, and the involvement of both in covering up John Ensign’s extramarital affair (it also notes that Kramer worked for Ensign during college).

While it doesn’t come out and say it directly, it comes as close as possible in a Hill rag to stating the obvious: Kramer Largent only got this job because his daddy belongs to the same cabal as Coburn (and because he’s white and connected, because if he weren’t, even The Family might not have been able to help him).

Of course, Coburn is also the guy who once sterilized at least one woman without her consent because he thought she had had too many babies already. Vagina monsters, you see, aren’t entitled to the same kind of second chances as male members of The Family.

Update: Fixed mis-identification of original report to Roll Call thanks to Peterr.

William Welch Leaving DOJ; Main Justice Circles The Ethical Wagons

Apparently the thrill is finally gone, or at least soon to be gone. Carrie Johnson at NPR has just reported:

A federal prosecutor who led the elite public integrity unit when the case against the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens collapsed has told associates he will leave the Justice Department.
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department and a representative for Welch had no comment on his departure, which one source said he characterized as a “retirement.”

Welch had been scheduled to lead a controversial prosecution later this year of former CIA official Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of leaking secrets to New York Times reporter James Risen. That case has drawn widespread media attention because it could set important precedent on the issue of whether reporters enjoy some sort of legal privilege that could help them protect their sources.

This is interesting, actually fascinating news. As Carrie notes the Sterling matter is hanging in the lurch. In fact, it is waiting on an interlocutory appeal decision from the 4th Circuit over claims that the DOJ, once again led by Welch, played fast and loose with critical evidence disclosure. I do not, however, think that the impetus behind this somewhat surprising announcement. The 4th case appears to have completed briefing with the government’s filing of a redacted reply about six weeks ago; however, I don’t think a decision is likely coming that fast and federal appellate courts are not that leaky. Although, to be fair, District and Circuit courts do, occasionally in media intensive cases, give the parties a heads up a decision is coming.

More likely, this is more fallout from the Ted Stevens case and the Schuelke report. In fairness to Welch, he was not one of the hardest hit DOJ attorneys in Schuelke’s report, but he was blistered by Schuelke at Schuelke’s testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in late March:

Schuelke said tight deadlines before the lawmaker’s October 2008 trial and a series of missteps within the Justice Department’s public integrity unit where leaders William Welch and Brenda Morris “abdicated supervisory responsibility” contributed to the evidence sharing lapses. The failings prompted new Attorney General Eric Holder to abandon the case in 2009; Stevens died a year later in a plane crash after he had lost his Senate seat.

The odds are fairly good that the DOJ is putting the finishing touches on its long awaited OPR report on the Stevens fiasco and, after Schuelke, needs a sacrificial lamb. And Welch is a prime candidate to be sacrificed. But that would beg the question of what will they do about Brenda Morris, whose conduct in Stevens was much more egregious and central, as a supervisor, that even that of Welch. And it should not be forgotten that Brenda Morris was also smack dab in the middle of another catastrophic black eye for the DOJ, the Alabama bingo cases. So, there are some real questions for DOJ there.

As to William Welch though, with both the OPR report nearing completion, and the prospect of a House Judiciary inquiry looming later this week, it would seem that Welch’s newfound desire for “retirement” has a bit of a forced edge to it.

One last thing should be kept in mind: the legislation proposed by Lisa Murkowski and having key bi-partisan backing after Stevens and the Schuelke Report, to reform federal evidence disclosure rules for the DOJ. The DOJ is literally, and cravenly, apoplectic about the proposed reform and has promised they have “learned their lesson” and that everybody should just “trust us”.

DOJ had been fighting disclosure reform hard for quite a long time; but there will never be better momentum than is present now, and they know it. Any seasoned criminal defense attorney will confirm that the far more open and reciprocal discovery rules found at the state level in several more enlightened jurisdictions (I can vouch for this in Arizona, which is one of them) work far better than the archaic disclosure rules extant in federal court. It would be a huge benefit to fairness in the criminal justice process, and it IS an attainable goal. And that, too, may be why we are seeing the sacrifice of William Welch.

Requiem For ACA at SCOTUS & Legitimacy Of Court and Case

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise popularly known as “Obamacare” had a bit of a rough go of it this week at the Supreme Court. Jeff Toobin called it a train wreck (later upgraded to plane wreck). Kevin Drum termed it a “debacle” and Adam Serwer a “Disaster“.

Was it really that bad? Considering how supremely confident, bordering on arrogant, the Obama Administration, and many of the ACA’s plethora of healthcare “specialists”, had been going into this week’s arguments, yes, it really was that bad. Monday’s argument on the applicability of the tax Anti-Injunction Act (AIJA) went smoothly, and as expected, with the justices appearing to scorn the argument and exhibit a preference to decide the main part of the case on the merits. But then came Tuesday and Wednesday.

Does that mean the ACA is sunk? Not necessarily; Dahlia Lithwick at Slate and Adam Bonin at Daily Kos sifted through the debris and found at least a couple of nuggets to latch onto for hope. But, I will be honest, after reading transcripts and listening to most all of the audio, there is no question but that the individual mandate, and quite possible the entire law, is in a seriously precarious lurch.

Unlike most of my colleagues, I am not particularly surprised. Indeed, in my argument preview piece, I tried to convey how the challenger’s arguments were far more cognizable than they were being given credit for. The simple fact is the Commerce Clause power claimed by Congress in enacting the individual mandate truly is immense in scope, – every man, woman and child in the United States – and nature – compelled purchase of a product from private corporate interests. Despite all the clucking and tut tutting, there really never has been anything like it before. The Supreme Court Justices thought so too.

I have no idea what kind of blindered hubris led those on the left to believe the Roberts Court was going to be so welcoming to their arguments, and to be as dismissive of the challengers’ arguments, as was the case. Yes, cases such as Raich and Wickard established Congress could regulate interstate commerce and Morrison and Lopez established there were limits to said power. But, no, none of them directly, much less conclusively, established this kind of breathtaking power grant as kosher against every individual in the country.

Despite the grumbling of so many commentators that the law was clear cut, and definitively established in favor of the mandate, it wasn’t, and isn’t. And I was not the only one on the left who found the challenging arguments serious, Professor Jonathan Turley did as well (see here and here).

There is no particular need to rehash all the different arguments, and iterations of them by the scores of commentators (not to mention the participants in the case, of course), that has already been done elsewhere, actually everywhere, ad nauseum. There is one area I do want to touch on, at least briefly, though. Limitations of power. This is an important concept in Commerce Clause law, which is why I tried to focus on it in the argument preview article.

Simply put, the the question is, if the federal government can, via the Article I Congressional authority, stretch the reach of the Commerce Clause to every individual in the US, willing or not, as they did in the “ACA Individual Mandate” is there any power over the individual and/or the states, that is still out of bounds? Are there any limitations left on the ability of the federal to consume individual determination? What the Supreme Court looks for in such an inquiry are “limiting principles” that could constrain the power in the future. Another term of art used in the law is, is there any way to “cabin”, i.e. constrain, the power?

In addition to the preview post, I also asked colleagues on Twitter (here and here) to describe proper concepts that would accomplish the goal. For over a day, until the reality that – gasp – this was also the concern of the justices, there was literally no discernible response. Once that reality, forced by the Court, set in however, attempts came fast and furious. Nearly all were rationalizations for why the ACA/mandate was necessary and/or desirable, but were not actual limiting principles.

It was a bit of a trick question, because the best lawyers in the government and amici did not do so hot in that regard either. Out of all I have seen, the one that struck me as fairly easily the best was propounded by Professor Jack Balkin:

The Moral Hazard/Adverse Selection Principle
Congress can regulate activities that substantially affect commerce. Under the necesary and proper clause, Congress can require people to engage in commerce when necessary to prevent problems of moral hazard or adverse selection created by its regulation of commerce. But if there is no problem of moral hazard or adverse selection, Congress cannot compel commerce. Courts can choose different standards of review to decide how much they want to defer to Congress’s conclusion.

Nice, tight and definable. Not bad. Still leaves a lot of ground – likely far too much – open to suit the apparent Supreme Court majority forming. So, when you read, here or otherwise, discussion about “limiting principles” or “cabining”, this is what is being contemplated.

As usual, Justice Anthony Kennedy is the critical swing. And Kennedy’s general understanding (and consideration here) of liberty is instructive. The following lays it out quite well, using both quotes from last Tuesday’s oral argument and background, and comes via Adam Liptak at the New York Times:

Paul D. Clement, representing 26 states challenging the law, had a comeback. “I would respectfully suggest,” he said, “that it’s a very funny conception of liberty that forces somebody to purchase an insurance policy whether they want it or not.”
Justices tend to ask more questions of the lawyers whose positions they oppose, and Justice Kennedy posed six questions to Mr. Verrilli and just three to the two lawyers challenging the law.

The questions to Mr. Verrilli were, moreover, mostly easy to read. They were crisp expressions of discomfort with the administration’s arguments.

“Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?” Justice Kennedy asked.

“This is a step beyond what our cases have allowed, the affirmative duty to act to go into commerce” he said. “If that is so, do you not have a heavy burden of justification?”

“Can you identify for us some limits on the commerce clause?” he asked.

Those questions fit neatly within one strain of Justice Kennedy’s understanding of liberty, one he discussed at length last year in an opinion for a unanimous court.

Limiting federal power, he wrote, “protects the liberty of all persons within a state by ensuring that laws enacted in excess of delegated governmental power cannot direct or control their actions. By denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power. When government acts in excess of its lawful powers, that liberty is at stake.”

There is a Constitutional desire, and instruction to, colloquially, have limitation on federal power and to reserve rights to states and liberties to individuals. The Supreme Court, and Justice Kennedy (and to a lesser extent Chief Justice Roberts), in the ACA arguments was grappling with these concepts. How they find them, and decide them, will determine the outcome on the mandate.

One way or another, the case on the mandate will be decided. In the preview post before oral arguments began, I predicted either a 6-3 decision to uphold the constitutionality of the mandate or a 5-4 decision against it. The odds on the latter have soared. At this point, I would rate the odds at 50:50 either way. But, sometime – likely near the end of June – there will be a decision and the victory dance by the winning side and caterwauling and demeaning of the “politicized Court” by the losers will commence. That pattern will play out regardless of which party wins, and which party loses.

As described in both the instant post, and the preview piece, the arguments are indeed contentious, but they are also quite real. There are fundamental differences, over fundamental interpretations of fundamental rights. And, despite the often PT Barnum like contentions of the ACA cheer squad on the left, and from the Obama Administration, the nature and reach of the mandate truly is unprecedented and never was “unquestionably constitutional” as so many claimed. The left created their own self sustaining echo chamber and convinced themselves a truly controversial mandate was self fulfilling and golden.

The arguments against the mandate by the challengers are not wrong or silly simply because made by the “other side”. There IS merit to their concern, even if you ultimately believe the mandate should be upheld. Which has made it distressing, to be kind, to see the efforts of many of my colleagues on the left to demonize and degrade the questions and apparent inclination by the conservative bloc of the Roberts Court during oral arguments.

It took Jonathan Chait at New York less than a day after the fateful oral arguments to start salting the thought the court was somehow illegitimate:

The spectacle before the Supreme Court this week is Republican justices seizing the chance to overturn the decisions of democratically-elected bodies. At times the deliberations of the Republican justices are impossible to distinguish from the deliberations of Republican senators.

Chait’s fellow dedicated ACA supporter, Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic quickly weighed in with his hyperbolic joinder:

Before this week, the well-being of tens of millions of Americans was at stake in the lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act.

Now something else is at stake, too: The legitimacy of the Supreme Court.

Even Dahlia Lithwick and Professor Richard Hasen, both of whom I respect somewhere beyond immensely, in separate articles at Slate, joined the chorus of casting stones of Court legitimacy degradation.

Please, folks, just stop. The question on the mandate is legitimate, and the other side believes their position every bit as much as you do yours. While there is certainly case precedent in the general area, there is just as certainly none directly on point with the way the “commerce” in this mandate is framed and “regulated”.

The Supreme Court is inherently a political body, at least in that its Justices are politically appointed. Presidential candidates of both stripes campaign on the type of Justices they would appoint if given the opportunity. Further, the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the most controversial questions, that habitually involve mixed issues of politics and law, and has been ever since Marbury v. Madison.

Charges against the legitimacy of the Supremes have also been extant since the time of Marbury v. Madison, and continue into the modern set of decades with cries by the right against the Warren Court, to the bookend cries by the left against the Burger and Rehnquist Courts. The Supreme Court survived all those, and is still ticking after Bush v. Gore and Citizen’s United. It will survive this too.

And, as David Bernstein pointed out, why in the world would the left undermine the Court’s legitimacy when it is one Presidential appointment away from taking over the ideological majority? No kidding. I respectfully urge my colleagues on the left to step back, take a breath of air, and rethink the idea of degrading the Court over this case.

Those, however, are not the only reasons Democrats and the left should take a step back and rethink how they are reacting to the SCOTUS consideration of the ACA mandate. I pointed out in the ACA/SCOTUS preview post that progressives and conservatives were both, strangely, arguing contrary to type and ideology on the mandate. In a really bright piece of counterintuitive and intelligent thought, Jon Walker points out just how true that was:

If Conservatives get their way and the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate to buy health insurance, it would be a real victory for them; but in the end, the last laugh may be with actual progressives. While in this case an individual mandate was used to expand health coverage, similar individual mandates are the cornerstone for corporatist plans to unravel the public social insurance systems created by the New Deal/Great Society.

The basic subsidies, exchanges and individual mandate design that defines the ACA are at the heart of many corporatists’ attempts to destroy/privatizes the programs progressives support the most.

There are are two main ways for the government to provide universal public goods. The first and normally best way is to have the government raise money through taxes and then use that money to directly provide the service to everyone. The other option is to create an individual mandate forcing everyone to buy the service from private corporations while having the government subsidize some of the cost. These needless middlemen mostly just increases costs for regular people and the government. This is why corporations love this setup and push hard for it.
If the Supreme Court rules against this individual mandate in a way that basically makes it legally impossible to replace most of our current public insurance systems with mandated private systems, that should be seen as a big silver lining for progressives.

Go read the entire piece by Jon Walker, as it contains specific instances and discussions that are important.

In closing, I would just like to say it is NOT the case that the conservatives are definitely right in their challenge to the individual mandate in Obamacare, but it is a lot closer case than liberals make out, and liberals are being blind to the potential downside of it being upheld. All of these factors make the situation different than has been relentlessly painted; there are legitimate arguments on both sides and the Supreme Court will make a tough decision. Whatever it is, that will be their decision. It was a flawed law when it got to the Supremes, and they will still maintain legitimacy and respect when it leaves, regardless of how they sort the hash they were served.

[Article updated to reflect author Jon Walker for the last link, not David Dayen]

Arizona Has A New Democratic Senate Candidate!

Well, okay, Richard Carmona has been formally announced for the race since early November of 2011, but with yesterday’s dropout by the only other major Democratic contender, former state Democratic Party Chair Don Bivens, the field is effectively cleared for Carmona.

Bivens was gracious and indicated clearly he is getting out for party unity:

“The continuing head-to-head competition of our Democratic primary is draining resources that we will need as a Party to win the U.S. Senate race in November,” he wrote in a statement. “While I am confident we would win this primary, the cost and impact on the Party I’ve spent my life fighting for could diminish our chance to achieve the ultimate goal: winning in November.”

Bivens had a stellar third quarter in fundraising, but momentum quickly shifted to former Surgeon General Richard Carmona when he entered the race in November. Carmona had the backing of much of the national Democratic establishment.

In a joint statement with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wrote that he was “heartened that Don has decided to focus his time and energy” on President Barack Obama’s re-election and on Carmona’s campaign.

This is actually fairly exciting news here in the desert, as the party, both in state and nationally, can coalesce around Carmona and focus on the necessary effort to insure very conservative Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, the certain nominee for the GOP, does not win. The race is for the seat of the retiring Jon Kyl and, for the first time since Dennis DeConcini left, the Dems have a serious chance of gaining a Senator in Arizona. A goal not only critical to us in Arizona, but in the national efforts to retain the all important Majority status in the Senate.

Why is Carmona, the man and candidate, so exciting? Well, because he has a legitimate shot at winning, that’s why. And who is Richard Carmona? Here is his campaign biography:

Born to a poor Hispanic family in New York City, Dr. Richard Carmona experienced homelessness, hunger and bleak prospects for a future education and economic opportunity. The child of parents who emigrated to the United States and struggled with alcoholism and substance abuse, Rich learned tough early lessons about economic disparities and social injustice – an experience he has never forgotten, and one that has given him an understanding of how culture, health, education and economic status shape our country.

Like his siblings and many of his friends, Rich dropped out of high school. With few skills and little education, he enlisted in the Army and went to Vietnam. Military service gave him discipline and a drive to succeed that he still carries today. In order to apply for Special Forces and become a combat medic, he earned his high school equivalency degree. Rich left the Army a combat-decorated veteran, with two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts, a combat medical badge and numerous other decorations to mark his service.

When he returned home from Vietnam, Rich became the first member of his family to earn a college degree. Through open enrollment reserved for returning veterans, he attended Bronx Community College and earned an Associate of Arts degree. Later he went to the University of California, San Francisco, where he earned a bachelors of science degree. Two years later, Rich completed his medical degree – receiving the prestigious gold-headed cane as the school’s top graduate.

Trained in general and vascular surgery, Dr. Carmona also completed a National Institutes of Health-sponsored fellowship in trauma, burns, and critical care. A Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Carmona was recruited jointly by the Tucson Medical Center and the University of Arizona to start and direct Southern Arizona’s first regional trauma care system. He, his wife Diana and their four children, relocated to Tucson.

Dr. Carmona would later become chairman of the State of Arizona Southern Regional Emergency Medical System, a professor of surgery, public health and family and community medicine at the University of Arizona, and the Pima County Sheriff’s Department surgeon.

While continuing his medical career, Rich’s call to service lead him to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department in which he has served for more than 25 years as a deputy sheriff, detective, department surgeon and SWAT Team Leader. In 1992, he rappelled from a helicopter to rescue a paramedic stranded on a mountainside when their medevac helicopter crashed during a snow storm, inspiring a made-for-TV movie. In the course of his service, Rich received the National Top Cop Award and was named the National SWAT Officer of the Year.

In 2002, Carmona was nominated by the president and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate to become the 17th Surgeon General of the United States. As Surgeon General, Carmona focused on prevention, health disparities and emergency preparedness to protect the nation against epidemics and bio-terrorism. He also issued a groundbreaking report on the dangers of second-hand smoke.

While very successful as Surgeon General, he unfortunately also experienced the divisive politics that continue to plague Washington today — where the desire to score political points has become more important than solving problems, creating jobs or providing for those in need. That experience guides his current mission to become Arizona’s next senator and change how Washington works.

In 2007, Dr. Carmona testified before Congress that political appointees had put partisan politics ahead of science — especially when it came to the public’s health — in hopes that shining a light on how the administration operated could bring change. He testified: “The job of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the nation, not the doctor of a political party.”

Now THAT, folks, is a history and experience set to kill for in a political candidate for major office. Handsome fellow, and extremely charismatic and personable, too.

Now, I will say this much, Carmona is not, and will not be, a true liberal progressive overall, that is simply not his makeup. I do not yet know Richard personally, but have friends that have both known him since he first came to Arizona decades ago, as well as friends that studied medicine under him, and all advise he is a real deal independent thinker who is overall Democratic in base ideology, but pretty moderate.

Now, the good news: Carmona is very good on the critical health issues currently roiling the nation’s politics, including on women’s issues that are so under fire recently:

Throughout my time as U.S. Surgeon General, I remained steadfast in my belief that every woman should have access to comprehensive health care, including retaining access to reproductive health care options and FDA-approved prescription contraceptives.

As a medical doctor, I know that a woman’s access and choice of reproductive health care options is an intensely personal decision left best decided by a woman and her physician. I also believe it is important to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the United States through supporting medically-accurate, comprehensive sex education for our kids, taking steps to prevent teen pregnancy and providing access to pre-natal care for all women.

Carmona is dogged in his desire to protect Social Security and Medicare, as well as providing appropriate care, that has to date been shockingly lacking, for veterans. Carmona is also strong on the need for immigration reform (trust me, this is absolutely critical here on the border).

A fuller statement on Richard’s priorities can be found here. All in all, it is a great policy set.

One of the things not listed in Carmona’s priorities, and that I am most interested in, is his in depth stance on environmental issues. How we steward our national resources and deal with global warming will be of critical importance. This is geometrically more true in a state of open land, rich natural resources and fragile Sonoran riparian habitats like we have in Arizona. I will be seeking clarification in this regard from Mr. Carmona immediately, and will report appropriately. In fact, I am going to make sure he gets this blog post and a formal request for response.

Here is why this race is SOOOOOO important: Once elected to the Senate from Arizona, people tend to stay there forever. Jeff Flake, the certain GOP nominee, is personally a very nice guy; he is, however, a catastrophe from a policy standpoint. If Jeff Flake is allowed to win this seat, he will never leave unless he gets placed on a national ticket that wins the White House. The tide is turning Blue in Arizona, and we simply cannot tolerate another entrenched right wing extremist.

Richard Carmona has the goods to beat Flake and give both Arizona and national Democrats a strong and, compared to the lobbied up norm for national politicians, genuine voice. As Marcy is doing with Trevor Thomas in Michigan, I will be writing about Carmona and our local race here in Arizona from time to time.

I hope you will join me in supporting Richard Carmona for US Senator for Arizona. Here is where you can get involved, here is where you can donate!

ACA at SCOTUS: Some Thoughts On The Mandate

As you likely know by now, we stand on the cusp of historic oral arguments this week in the Supreme Court on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise popularly known as “Obamacare”. The arguments will occur over three days, for a total of six hours, Monday through Wednesday. Yes, they really are that historic, as Lyle Denniston explains in SCOTUSBlog. The schedule is as follows: Monday: 90 minutes on whether the Anti Injunction Act (AIJA) prevents consideration of a challenge to the individual mandate until it takes effect in 2014; Tuesday: Two hours on the Constitutionality of the individual mandate; and Wednesday: 90 minutes on severability of the main law from the mandate and 60 minutes on state sovereignty concerns of Medicaid reform.

There are two areas of particular interest for me and which really are the meat on the bone of the overall consideration. The first is Monday’s technical argument on the AIJA, which I actually think may be much more in play than most commentators believe, because the Supremes may want to punt the politically sticky part of the case down the road until after the 2012 elections, and the AIJA argument is a ready made vehicle to do just that. Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s dissent in Seven Sky v. Holder explains how that would go should the Supreme beings decide to punt. This is by no means likely, but do not be shocked if it occurs; can kicking down the road is certainly not unknown at SCOTUS on politically sensitive cases.

By far, however, the biggest, and most contentious, kahuna of the healthcare debate is the individual mandate, and that is where I want to focus. The two sides, pro (predominantly liberal left) and con (predominantly conservative right), have been selling their respective wares since before the law was passed and signed by the President. As we truly head into the arguments, however, the pro left have crystallized around a matched pair of articles by Dahlia Lithwick and Linda Greenhouse, and the con right around response pieces by James Taranto and Ed Whelan.

Now this hardly seems like a fair fight, as Taranto has no degree, nor legal training, whatsoever; that said he and Whelan actually lay out the contra to Dahlia and Linda pretty well. Each side effectively accuses the other of being vapid and hollow in argument construct. I will leave aside any vapidity discussion because I think both sides genuinely believe in their positions; as to the hollowness, though, I think both sides are pretty much guilty. Which is understandable, there is simply not a lot of law directly on point with such a sweeping political question as presented by the mandate. “Unprecedented” may be overused in this discussion, but it is not necessarily wrong (no, sorry, Raich v. Gonzales is not that close; it just isn’t).

In short, I think both sides are guilty of puffery as to the quality of legal support for their respective arguments, and I believe both are guilty of trying to pass off effective political posturing as solid legal argument. Certainty is just not there for either side. This is a real controversy, and the Supreme Court has proved it by allotting the, well, almost “unprecedented” amount of time it has to oral argument.

All of the above said, I join my friend Dahlia (and, more nebulously, Linda) in predicting the mandate will be considered (i.e. the AIJA argument discarded) on its merits, and the mandate will survive by either a solid 6-3 or 7-2 vote. There is one caveat to that, however. I have long maintained John Roberts will never be the fifth, and swing, vote to uphold the mandate/Obamacare by a narrow split of 5-4. If it comes down to that, Tony Kennedy would have had to have thrown in with the conservatives, and Roberts will never be the swing, nor would Alito or Scalia. But, if Kennedy goes with the liberal bloc, so that 5-4 is already there, Roberts will sign on to make it 6-3 and there might even be one more that signs up to make it 7-2. So, Obamacare either wins by 6-3 or 7-2, or loses by 5-4, and I think the former. You heard it here.

Now, I want to explain why, at least in my eyes, the mandate is no slam dunk and why I think even my friends on the liberal side are perhaps a little rah rahed and puffered on how awesomely clear cut the mandate is. In that regard, a couple of examples of just how important the mandate consideration is, because of how largely writ it can be extrapolated out, should be considered.

The first analogy comes courtesy of David Bernstein at Volokh:

But let’s say the Federal government decided to pass legislation, modeled on longstanding state laws, requiring all residents of the United States to attend school until age 18 or face [some penalty–a fine, or being drafted into “national service” or whatever]. A resident of a state where schooling is only mandatory until age 16 sues, claiming that this is beyond Congress’s enumerated powers.

The government claims that it has the authority under its Commerce power to require school attendance. After all, not only is education is a huge percentage of the American economy, the federal government already regulates the education market to a substantial degree and spends tens of billions of dollars annually for education, money that will to some extent be wasted if children don’t continue their education at least through high school. Thus, it’s both necessary and proper that the government impose an education mandate to ensure that it’s education policies will be successful.

To the argument that a sixteen year old dropout isn’t engaged in economic activity, the government argues that staying out of school is itself an economic activity, because, among other things, it reduces the amount of federal and state aid to one’s school, makes one less marketable in the employment market, reallocates resources that would otherwise be spend on the dropout’s education, and makes it more likely that one will need to spend money on education in the future. Moreover, no one is really “out” of the education market, because everyone is learning things all the time, whether from t.v., one’s friends, Facebook, or formal schooling. Finally, by dropping out of school, a sixteen year old is raising the expected costs to the government and society of future crime, welfare payments, and the like.

Anyone think the government should win?

Actually David, yeah I wouldn’t have a real problem with that. As a sage friend related to me this morning, there is a direct correlation between a nation’s ability to compete in a world market and the level of education provided to it’s citizens. Citizens with less, or poorer, education harm the entire nation – it’s welfare, it’s defense, its very liberties and it’s ability to defend itself against threats and enemies, foreign and domestic. I think that is exactly right; if you accept the individual mandate is constitutionally agreeable, it would be hard to see how you could disagree with an “education mandate”.

I would hazard a guess, contrary to David Bernstein’s point, most liberals, and maybe even many from the right, might have no problem with mandatory education as a corollary act to the healthcare mandate under the Commerce/Necessary & Proper Clauses (though they may, of course, want vouchers and church school subsidization).

Problem is, the analogies can get harder. Much harder. Let’s try this one of my own construct:

Guns and armament are necessary for the national defense, as is a strong and robust domestic weapons industry. It is important to not only encourage adequate arming of the citizenry for protection from terrorists and foreign agents, but to also encourage the manufacturing capability here in the homeland.

Ergo, every citizen, regardless of their age, shall from here forward be mandated to buy a gun (parents will be in charge of, and responsible for, the guns on behalf of the minors until they reach the age of majority). You will, of course, be able to opt out and pay a $750.00 per person, per year, tax penalty for not complying with the mandatory gun purchase and ownership.

You okay with this one too? If so, is there any mandatory purchase legislation you would not be okay with? What would be the threshold discrimination for a compelled commerce purchase law that would not be appropriate to you be then?

The question of whether one believes there is any limit whatsoever on the commerce power of Congress, and whether that is a good or bad thing, exists irrespective of SCOTUS, at least until they rule on this ACA extravaganza. This stuff matters. A lot. I personally find the analogies extremely useful to explore just how committed people are to the political blarney that has been casually cast about as legal argument on this issue – by both sides.

Are the liberal proponents of the mandate, who bellow “it is absurd to even question the issue, obviously the mandate is within the Commerce power!” really willing to follow the import and implication of their arguments out to their conclusion?

Are the conservative opponents of the mandate, who screech “this is unprecedented, and of course Article III courts have the innate power and authority to ban a facially valid law of Congress under the Commerce/Necessary and Proper Clauses!” really willing to accept that authority, control and micromanagement of Article I Congressional will by the Article III courts? Because that is not exactly what they normally say.

There is actually a bit of a paradox in both side’s positions vis a vis their normal views; liberals usually accept more control and regulation by courts on Congressional action as a check and balance, conservatives usually vehemently argue courts have no such proper role.

This is about far more than Obama’s questionably cobbled together ACA law; the law is inane in how it soaks Americans to benefit craven insurance companies. Either way, sooner or later, healthcare as constructed and/or mandated by the ACA will die a painful death, but will continue to decimate American families for years, irrespective of the ruling by the Supreme Court on its nominal constitutionality. At some point, single payer, such as “Medicare For All” is inevitable.

However, the pervasive effects of the Commerce/Necessary & Proper Clause determination on the individual mandate, caused by the nightmarishly cobbled together Obamacare, will shape the direction of the Supreme Court in relation to commerce, business interests and, indeed, potentially American life across the board, for decades, if not lifetimes, to come.

That is what is at stake this week. Yes, it is that big. No, it is not that easy or clear cut. I do not know how it all sorts out for sure, but I do I do think, unlike the vast majority of the political commentators opining in the ether, the Supreme Court understands the consequences for the long run and the gravity of what they are considering. That said, it is still a very political decision for the Supreme beings, and how they calculate that, vis a vis history, is anybody’s guess.

One thing IS certain, when the dust has settled, one side will say the Supremes are beautiful minds, and the other will say they are craven activist tyrants. That is life in the modern Article III existence. Game on!

David Gregory & NBC Give John McCain Blowjob; Screw Americans

Saturday evening, the New York Times put up an important editorial, The Banks Win Again, on its website regarding the financial crisis, an editorial piece that would be key in their Sunday Morning Edition Opinion Section:

Last week was a big one for the banks. On Monday, the foreclosure settlement between the big banks and federal and state officials was filed in federal court, and it is now awaiting a judge’s all-but-certain approval. On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve announced the much-anticipated results of the latest round of bank stress tests.

How did the banks do on both? Pretty well, thank you — and better than homeowners and American taxpayers.

That is not only unfair, given banks’ huge culpability in the mortgage bubble and financial meltdown. It also means that homeowners and the economy still need more relief, and that the banks, without more meaningful punishment, will not be deterred from the next round of misbehavior.

The nation is on the cusp on having the government, both federal and states, sign off on arguably the biggest financial fraud on the American public in history, and doing so in a way that massively rewards the offending financial institutions and refuses serious investigation, much less prosecution, of any participants perpetrating the conduct. This pattern of craven conduct cratered not just the US economy, but most of the world economy.

In the face of all this, David Gregory and MTP had on the Sunday morning show one of the most senior Senators in the United States Senate, John McCain, who serves as a key member of both the Governmental Affairs and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees, both of which are integrally affected by, and concerned with, the financial collapse and the financial fraud, churning and undercapitalization that directly caused it.

Oh, and this oh so worthy Meet The Press guest, a man such a fixture and well known to the MTP crew that he has been an honored guest 64 (sixty four!) times – the Right Honorable Senator John Sidney McCain III – just so happens to have been one of the key players in the only recent analogous situation to the current financial collapse, the Savings & Loan Crisis scandal of the late 80s and early 90s. McCain, who unethically conspired with one of the key men convicted of substantive crimes (criminal charges are curiously NOT being sought currently) in the Savings & Loan Crisis, Charlie Keating. McCain nearly lost his political career over it. John Sidney McCain III, who was so tight with the living epitome of the destructive Savings & Loan Crisis, Charlie Keating, that he frequented Charlie’s Bahama Keys mansion (traveling on Charlie’s private jets) and donned pineapple hats with his best buddy for booze filled Bahama birthday bashes. Booyah!

The same John Sidney McCain III who resurrected his Savings & Loan Crisis cratered career on supposedly getting corrupt money out of government and insuring that another mass financial fraud could not gut the country’s economy. The same McCain who bellowed about the corrupting influence of the moneychangers and their crooked cash. You would think the esteemed David Gregory would want to do his country a service and explore this topic that has most affected every American’s life over the last five years and that still roils and depresses the US economy and leads to debilitating unemployment and underemployment rates.

You would think David Gregory, NBC and the venerated and esteemed Meet The Press would want to discuss how the government’s perfidy in refusing competent investigation and prosecution has resulted in heinous offenders like Bank of America being bigger than ever and ready to crater the economy again, as lamented by the spot on Matt Taibbi recently:

It’s been four years since the government, in the name of preventing a depression, saved this megabank from ruin by pumping $45 billion of taxpayer money into its arm. Since then, the Obama administration has looked the other way as the bank committed an astonishing variety of crimes – some elaborate and brilliant in their conception, some so crude that they’d be beneath your average street thug. Bank of America has systematically ripped off almost everyone with whom it has a significant business relationship, cheating investors, insurers, depositors, homeowners, shareholders, pensioners and taxpayers. It brought tens of thousands of Americans to foreclosure court using bogus, “robo-signed” evidence – a type of mass perjury that it helped pioneer. It hawked worthless mortgages to dozens of unions and state pension funds, draining them of hundreds of millions in value. And when it wasn’t ripping off workers and pensioners, it was helping to push insurance giants like AMBAC into bankruptcy by fraudulently inducing them to spend hundreds of millions insuring those same worthless mortgages.

But despite being the very definition of an unaccountable corporate villain, Bank of America is now bigger and more dangerous than ever. It controls more than 12 percent of America’s bank deposits (skirting a federal law designed to prohibit any firm from controlling more than 10 percent), as well as 17 percent of all American home mortgages. By looking the other way and rewarding the bank’s bad behavior with a massive government bailout, we actually allowed a huge financial company to not just grow so big that its collapse would imperil the whole economy, but to get away with any and all crimes it might commit. Too Big to Fail is one thing; it’s also far too corrupt to survive.

You would think the NBC braintrust would want to talk about the most important issue on the burner over the last few years – and still today – financial fraud and government complicity and regulatory failure. And who better to discuss it with than a founding member of the Keating Five? But, of course, you would be wrong. No, NBC and their dancing stooge David Gregory instead engaged in a longwinded gossip fest on the inane and intellectually ignorant current GOP Primary horserace. Because that is what Dancin Dave, Meet The Press and NBC are now, cheap political gossip mongers who make Access Hollywood look like serious reportage.

Maybe we should cut Dancing David Gregory some slack tough, his mind was undoubtedly preoccupied with his upcoming admission into the Chevy Chase Club, the “historic social club that has catered to Washington’s wealthiest for over a century”.

[And, if you are wondering, yes that picture of John Sidney McCain III in the asinine pineapple hat is quite real and was taken at his special birthday party he jetted down to Charlie Keating’s Bahama Keys mansion and estate for with Keating and other sundry revelers. Okay, I did let TWolf add some colorization….]

The Full Text of the Schuelke Report on DOJ Misconduct

Earlier this morning, we posted A Primer On Why Schuelke Report Of DOJ Misconduct Is Important that laid out all the legal and procedural background underlying the Schuelke Report into prosecutorial misconduct in the Ted Stevens criminal case.

The full 500 page report has now been released, and is titled:

Report to Hon. Emmet G. Sullivan of Investigation Conducted Pursuant to the Court’s Order, dated April 7, 2009

I wanted to get the post framework and document link up so everybody could read along and digest the report together. Consider this a working thread to put thoughts, key quotes – whatever – into as we chew on the report. Then after having been through it, Marcy and I will; later do smaller stories on specific angles raised.

We know the irreducible minimum found:

The investigation and prosecution of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens were permeated by the systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated Senator Stevens’s defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness

You would think the involved attorneys would be ducking and apologizing for their ethical lapses that terminated the career of the powerful chairman of the Appropriations Committee on the US Senate. You would, of course, be wrong.

The mouthpiece for Brenda Morris, Chuck Rosenburg, is already clucking:

Brenda is a woman of tremendous integrity and an exceptionally talented prosecutor—she was fully honest with the investigators and always hoped that one day this report would be made public so that the facts of her individual role would be known.

Um, no, Ms. Morris does not smell like a rose here Chuck. Edward Sullivan, one of the AUSAs had this statement by his lawyer already this morning:

Mr. Sullivan is a diligent attorney, with strong character and integrity, whose conduct comports with the Department’s highest ethical standards. Mr. Sullivan was rightfully exonerated by Mr. Schuelke and the Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, and his vindication is evidenced by the fact that he continues to prosecute cases in the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section

Well, yeah, sure, you betcha Ed Sullivan. I guess that is why as late as yesterday you were personally in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals trying to have the whole matter both stayed and sealed and were arguing you would be harmed if it wasn’t. Today, Edward Sullivan is suddenly a spring flower of purity.

So, yes, all these spring flowers in bloom must be operating off some pretty fertilizer, and the manure is indeed rather deep. So, let us dive in and see what we find. Put your thought, comments and opinions in comment as we work. See you there!

The Emptywheel Primary Trash Talk

It’s here!! Yep the fateful Emptywheel Primary day! Why is it the Emptywheel Primary you ask? Well silly, because today is the Super Tuesday of GOP primaries in both Michigan and Arizona. My Mormons versus Marcy’s Hutaree. Gonna throw down baby.

I want to tell you how thrilling the excitement of the Republican primary has been for us here in Arizona. Except, well, I can’t. Because it hasn’t. It is now 5:00 pm here on the day of the primary, and I have not seen one single campaign ad on television. Other than a flurry of coverage on the day of the debate here, Nada. Zero. Zilch. As for campaign signs, which are always up everywhere in my busy area that sits at the intersection of Arcadia, Paradise Valley and Scottsdale. There are major roads leading to a lot of voters – many of them affluent – and this is a quite Republican district (it elected Ben Quayle handily just as an indicator). The pitiful tiny little Santorum sign in the picture above is the only sign I have seen within a two mile radius. That’s it.

As for Michigan, Marcy reports the same there. CNN and MSNBC says the GOP candidates have been traipsing around Michigan, but Marcy has not seen much in the way of advertising or excitement either. Charlie Pierce gives a rundown on the wonderful candidates in Michigan. Here is what Marcy reported on Twitter yesterday about the level of excitement:

Honestly though, it just seems like a non-event to me. I have yet to see an ad–not TV, direct mail, robo, signs. Nothing!

So, two decent sized primaries in pretty interesting states, for differing reasons, and…..bupkis.

It looks like Romney has Arizona solid unless there is a major upset, which is not shocking with the large contingent of Mormons here. But Michigan has been shockingly tight given Romney’s roots there, and that could really be interesting depending on how a few key counties go. And Ron Paul has better strength than you think in Michigan. So this is a thread for election chatter, and anything else in the world you got (hint FOOTBALL and other sports, etc!).

On piece of pretty interesting news today, Olympia Snowe has announced she is retiring after this term and will not run, so there is a scramble underway up in Maine. The big Dem names floated so far to replace Snowe are current Representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, as well as former Representative Tom Allen. Of those, it is hard not to think Pingree has the edge, and she is already thinking about it hard. This could be a great pickup opportunity for the Dems in the Senate, and would sure help the effort to keep the majority control of the Senate. DDay has more.

So, with that, let’s hoop and yak it up for The Emptywheel Primary! Music by Bo Diddley and Roadrunner, which he first released in 1960.

Copyright © 2018 emptywheel. All rights reserved.
Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/congress/page/12/