Monica Crowley has already bailed on a national security post for the Caudillo-elect, and Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder may be next…. (More)

“After much reflection I have decided to remain in New York to pursue other opportunities”

So fibbed Crowley yesterday in announcing that she would not accept the job of senior director of strategic communications at the National Security Council:

“After much reflection I have decided to remain in New York to pursue other opportunities and will not be taking a position in the incoming administration,” she said in a statement. “I greatly appreciate being asked to be part of President-elect Trump’s team and I will continue to enthusiastically support him and his agenda for American renewal.”

I say “fibbed” because “I have decided … to pursue other opportunities” translates to “I got caught plagiarizing my Ph.D dissertation,” which was ironically titled “Clearer than Truth.” Yes, really:

Parts of Crowley’s dissertation appear to violate Columbia [University]’s definition of “Unintentional Plagiarism” for “failure to ‘quote’ or block quote author’s exact words, even if documented” or “failure to paraphrase in your own words, even if documented.” In other cases, her writing appears to violate types I and II of Columbia’s definition of “Intentional Plagiarism,” which are, respectively, “direct copy and paste” and “small modification by word switch,” “without quotation or reference to the source.”

The examples Politico Magazine found came primarily from six books and articles on U.S. foreign policy, particularly from Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis’ 1982 book Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy during the Cold War and Princeton World Politics professor Thomas Christensen’s 1996 book Useful Adversaries: Grand Strategy, Domestic Mobilization, and Sino-American Conflict, 1947-1958. Both Gaddis and Christensen declined to comment.

In short, she and Ivanka Trump hired the same writer: Coppee Payst. The difference is that political speeches routinely rehash other people’s ideas – albeit not usually in identical words – while a dissertation “must contribute something completely new and undiscovered to your field.”

Crowley might well have been booted from her Ph.D program had her advisors noticed the plagiarism. At the very least, they would have made her rewrite those portions with proper citations. It was, in academic parlance, A Very Bad Thing. Apparently she doesn’t want to face harsh questions about it now, so she’ll “pursue other opportunities.”

Meanwhile …

“He is not into the pounding he is taking, and the paperwork”

CNN reported that Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder may withdraw as well:

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to be labor secretary has voiced second thoughts in recent days, because of a relentless barrage of criticism from Democrats, labor unions and other liberal groups, a business ally and GOP sources tell CNN.

Andy Puzder is the CEO of the company that owns the Hardees and Carl’s Jr. fast food chains.

“He may be bailing,” said a Republican source plugged into the Trump transition effort. “He is not into the pounding he is taking, and the paperwork.”

Or not:

It could be the source was peddling baseless gossip. Or the CNN story may have tickled Puzder’s stubbornness.

Meanwhile …

“It clearly has the appearance of using your influence as a congressman to your financial benefit”

Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price may have leveraged his congressional office to fatten his stock portfolio:

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 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulation that industry analysts warned would significantly hurt Zimmer Biomet financially once fully implemented.
[…]
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.

A spokesman later denied that last bit:

After CNN’s report published, Blando said: “Any effort to connect the introduction of Dr. Price’s legislation, co-sponsored with Democrats, to a campaign contribution is demonstrably false. Dr. Price is fully complying with the recommendations put forth by the Office of Government Ethics.”

Even if that were “demonstrably false,” it doesn’t change the first part: that Price bought stock in a company, then introduced a bill to benefit that company, thus boosting the value of the stock he purchased, as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer noted:

Meanwhile …

“We still don’t know exactly what they want to do”

Price and the Flim-Flammer-elect apparently don’t agree with each other, or with Senate and House Republicans, on how to replace the Affordable Care Act:

Donald Trump and his pick to lead the Obamacare repeal effort, Rep. Tom Price, share a vision that the current health care system needs to be completely uprooted.

But the two men have articulated wildly divergent visions for what comes next – and that’s making it hard for Hill Republicans to figure out where to start on a coherent replacement plan once Obamacare is gone.

Over the weekend, Trump said he wants to substantially expand coverage once Price is confirmed as Health and Human Services secretary – “insurance for everybody” as he put it to the Washington Post. But as a House member and former chairman of the House Budget Committee, the Georgia Republican wrote one of the most conservative visions for health care, although his plan never included universal coverage as a stated goal.

Congressional Republicans are caught in between, racing to repeal Obamacare while receiving mixed signals from the incoming administration about what will replace it. Several key Republicans have already indicated Price’s approach won’t undergird the legislative process.
Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) stopped to greet Price warmly late last week, then said in an interview that Price’s bills from last Congress aren’t indicative of where Republicans are at.

“No. I don’t know what it will be. We’ve got a new element in Donald Trump,” said Hatch, the Senate Finance Committee chairman. “We still don’t know exactly what they want to do.”

In other words, the Flim-Flammer-elect’s plan – like Senate and House Republicans’ plans – is a whopping big pile of humbalah-humbalah.

Charles Gaba of ACASignups has a clever idea:

Many people have noted, there’s a simple “out” for Trump and the Republican Party: They could repeal the Affordable Care Act and then simply replace it with an identically-worded bill under a different name (probably “The Great and Glorious TrumpCare” or somesuch nonsense). That way they could say to the rabid GOP base that they “kept their promise” by “repealing Obamacare”.

On the other hand, as David States pointed out via Twitter this evening, it could be even simpler yet. Seeing how a substantial number of Trump supporters still don’t seem to be aware that “Obamacare” and “The Affordable Care Act” are the exact same thing, States noted:

Yup, I could see that. “Obama is no longer President. Therefore, the healthcare law is no longer ‘Obamacare’.”

Oh sure, the Small Government I Got Mine And F–k You folks would still object. But I bet most of those Angry White Men who’ve been howling Obamacare Is Socialism! would agree with the Flim-Flammer-elect that TrumpCare Is The Most Beautiful Health Care Plan Ever! And yes, TrumpCare would have a capital-C because He Really Does Care!

Sigh….

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Photo Credits – Monica Crowley: Shannon Stapleton (Reuters); Andrew Puzder Reuters; Composite: Crissie Brown (BPICampus.com)

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Good day and good nuts