Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Photo by Mike Groll/AP.
Merry Andrew

Today's story in the Times about Andrew Cuomo's Moreland Commission, which he set up a year ago to investigate corruption in the New York State government and then shut down last March with the unconvincing explanation that it wasn't needed because the legislature had promised to pass a bunch of reform bills (two days later they failed to pass the main items) is pretty shocking, even if you've had a bad feeling about Cuomo for quite a while (one of my first posts, in December 2011, expressed some distress).

It seems that although Cuomo said repeatedly that this commission was to be totally independent and investigate whatever smelled, he meant that with a mental reservation that they shouldn't investigate anybody close to him, such as a media buy agency that did work for his campaign. He seems to have used it himself to investigate law firms where legislators work, not to stop their corrupt activities but to pressure them into voting his way on this and that bill. He is even accused, who knows how reliably, of having the commissioners' communications monitored. And in the end he killed it. Federal prosecutors are investigating.

This really smells. As his Democratic rival candidate Zephyr Teachout points out, what he seems inarguably to have done, suborning an anti-corruption agency to his own purposes and preventing them from doing their work, is a lot worse for the state than the gross but private infractions Eliot Spitzer resigned over, and he ought to resign. I'm not kidding.

Teachout is a great candidate, by the way, and if you're a New York registered Democrat I'm suggesting you vote for her in the September 9 primary. Chances of her unseating Cuomo are, ah, slim (last poll found 86% of the electorate hadn't heard of her yet), unless this story has much longer legs than most real scandals do (we are all Maureen Dowd in a way, out of our minds over gossip and snoozy about real issues), but it's nice to be on the right side.
Photo by Associated Press. Her website is here.
The Death to Obamacare Campaign

Scott Lemieux pieces on Halbig vs. Burwell at The Guardian  and over at his place provide really great accounts of how remarkably stupid this ruling was and how little merit the case has. And at Slate, Emily Bazelon (legally) and Jamelle Bouie (politically) both back up my optimism that the ACA will survive this attack.

Steal this Book

Sadly, a Democratic senator, John Walsh of Montana, seems to have gotten busted for plagiarism, in a 2007 paper written for the Army War College, where he was doing his M.A. It's not like he was making any money off of it—it was a 14-page paper, though also a graduation requirement—and he may have been suffering from PTSD when he did it (as was a buddy from Iraq service who killed himself a few weeks before the paper was due, not what a guy needs when finals are coming up) but it is a violation of the college's ethics.

I was interested to see that the plagiarism includes passages where Walsh lifts passages from sources without altering the wording and without quotation marks, but with attribution. I didn't realize the Times regarded that as illegitimate: I wonder if I should tell them about David Brooks

John Ford, Upstream, 1927.

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