Category Archives: Elections

One of Robert’s best cartoons EVER

stain on a dress

It’s been interesting to watch the writers at The Wall Street Journal begin their shift from fighting the Trump juggernaut with all their might (standing alongside me in pushing for Kasich), to getting back into their comfort zone by going after Hillary.

This column today, reminding us of all the Clinton scandals, is a case in point.

As if people who know better have an alternative to Hillary, not matter how many unpleasant memories she represents.

I’m not joining that trend, but it reminds me of something, so I thought I’d share this, one of Robert Ariail’s best ever. Bill Clinton was a huge inspiration to Robert, which is one reason why he was a Pulitzer finalist twice during that era.

This one, from 1998 I believe, exhibits one of Robert’s signature strengths — his inspired use of language as well as his drawing ability.

I was looking for this cartoon yesterday to stick into a comment, but since Robert went to the trouble to dig it up for me, I thought I’d give it better play than that.

Here’s why we have to stay in NATO, Donald

Germany quiz

OK, there are a lot of reasons, but here’s a dumbed-down, grunt-grunt macho one he might actually understand:

We need to make sure Germany stays on our side.

Somehow I missed this news last week, until it turned up on the Slate News Quiz today:

Six NATO countries squared off last week in the Strong Europe Tank Challenge, a two-day competition that pitted some of the alliance’s best tank crews against each another in a series of events centered on armored warfare.

The challenge, which concluded Thursday and was held in Grafenwoehr, Germany, was the first of its kind there since 1991. The competition was designed to foster “military partnership” while showcasing the ability of NATO countries to work together, according to a U.S. Army statement.

Germany took top honors in the competition, followed by Denmark and Poland in second place and third place respectively.

The challenge, co-hosted by U.S. Army Europe and the German Bundeswehr, is a nod to the Cold War era and a tacit acknowledgment that NATO will need well-trained conventional forces if it ever has to go to war with a newly-emboldened Russia….

Back the last time we weren’t on the same team as ze Germans, they had the best tanks (and the Leopard 2A6s they won with this time look, to my untrained eye, creepily like Tigers). But we won by showing up with way MORE of them than they could produce. We tried that this time, too — every other country sent a single tank platoon to the competition, but we sent two. To no avail, as it turned out. They beat us anyway.

Good thing they’re on our side now. We need to keep it that way, despite what Donald Trump says….

German Leopard 2A6M with turret reversed

German Leopard 2A6M with turret reversed

The Great Reality TV Divide: It explains so much

MI0000286367

This felt like quite an epiphany when I thought of it several days ago — scale falling from my eyes and all that — but then I immediately realized it was perfectly obvious, and not in the least profound, so I didn’t post it.

But I did put it on Twitter yesterday, and received a little reinforcement there and on Facebook, so I’ll go ahead and share it:

I kept wondering why the problems with Trump — the fact that he must not ever be considered for even a split second to hold the highest office in the land — are not painfully obvious to everyone. What’s the cognitive barrier?

That question, and my puzzlement, had a certain flavor, and suddenly I recognized it. It’s the same confusion I have when I wonder why on Earth anyone can tolerate Reality TV.

I hated it from the first moment or two (and that’s all I could bear) I saw of MTV’s “The Real World.” All that false drama concocted and acted out with all seriousness by excruciatingly uninteresting, self-involved people. It seemed deliberately devised to make us all want to hurl.

And yet people watched it. And I still don’t get that, either…

donald-trump

Please just tell us: Is this as bad as it gets on Hillary’s emails?

This just in:

State Dept. inspector general report sharply criticizes Clinton’s email practices

The State Department’s independent watchdog has issued a highly critical analysis of Hillary Clinton’s email practices while running the department, concluding that she failed to seek legal approval for her use of a private email server and that department staff would not have given its blessing because of the “security risks in doing so.”

Her official SecState portrait.

Her official SecState portrait.

The inspector general, in a long awaited review obtained Wednesday by The Washington Post in advance of its publication, found that Clinton’s use of private email for public business was “not an appropriate method” of preserving documents and that her practices failed to comply with department policies meant to ensure that federal record laws are followed.

The report says Clinton, who is the Democratic presidential front-runner, should have printed and saved her emails during her four years in office or surrendered her work-related correspondence immediately upon stepping down in February 2013. Instead, Clinton provided those records in December 2014, nearly two years after leaving office….

There’s further stuff supporting that “sharply critical” language in the headline. But there are also findings that support the Clinton campaign’s claim that she did nothing unusual. Colin Powell comes in for some sharp criticism himself:

It was particularly critical of former secretary of state Colin Powell — who has acknowledged publicly that he used a personal email account to conduct business — concluding that he too failed to follow department policy designed to comply with public-record laws….

Which, of course, doesn’t make it right, boss. But it does mean Secretary Clinton wasn’t acting outside of the norm.

So what I want to know is, is this as bad as it gets? If so, this seems survivable — “not an appropriate method” is tepid stuff. Sounds kind of like Well, it wasn’t the best way, but…

Or is there worse stuff to come, stuff that will cripple her as a candidate? If there is, I wish it would hurry so that the Democrats will have time to replace her with someone who can win. Because Trump must be stopped….

ICYMI: Mulvaney opposes Trump’s deportation plan

I’m cleaning up email, and just ran across this one from five days ago. Old as it is, I thought I’d give Mick Mulvaney credit for standing up against Trump on this:

Hello,

Wanted to make sure you saw this article from Talking Points Memo yesterday that highlights Republicans in Congress who oppose Trump’s awful and absurd “plans” for mass deportation. Conservative members such as Rep. Mick Mulvaney,  Rep. Renee Ellmers and Senator Rob Portman all reject the idea of rounding up and deporting 11 million people – as do a majority of Americans and Republican primary voters.

Here are some quotes from members who oppose this plan:

  • ‘”Logistically that is an impossibility,” Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), who has endorsed Trump and is facing a primary challenge from her right in June, told TPM. “It would cost the taxpayers of America. We would never get there… It would be an endless pursuit.”’Mulvaney cropped

  • “[Rep. Mick] Mulvaney [R-SC] said he never “believed we were going to deport 11 million people.” “Don’t know how you would even go about doing it,” Mulvaney said. “I look forward to having that debate with our presumptive nominee once he comes to meet with us.”’

  • “Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) says he won’t be supporting Trump at all in part because of his immigration policy. “I called it a fraud from day one, from the day he announced it. It’s not a plan, alright, and it is unrealistic and it’s not a solution. It’s a good sound bite.”’

Here’s a link to the full piece.

Our distaste for both apparent nominees is THE story of the 2016 election

We’ve known this, and the story The Washington Post ran over the weekend just reiterated what we knew.

But it’s the one thing that sums up the way our presidential election process has failed us more clearly than any other, so it bears repeating: Never in our history, to the extent it has been measured, have the two parties nominated two people as unpopular as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

It makes you wonder what Budweiser thinks they are celebrating by calling their beer “America” through the election season. What do they think this is, 2008?

As the story says,

The coming presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump begins in a virtual dead heat, a competition between two candidates viewed unfavorably by a majority of the current electorate and with voters motivated as much by whom they don’t like as by whom they do, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Never in the history of the Post-ABC poll have the two major party nominees been viewed as harshly as Clinton and Trump.

Nearly 6 in 10 registered voters say they have negative impressions of both major candidates. Overall, Clinton’s net negative rating among registered voters is minus-16, while Trump’s is
minus-17, though Trump’s numbers have improved since March. Among all adults, Trump’s net negatives are significantly higher than those of Clinton….

If this is what this two-party system produces, we really need to have a long talk about reforming the system, don’t you think?

I hope the Post doesn't mind my sharing this image of their graphic. If they do, I'll take it down. In the meantime, I urge you to go their site, read their stories, subscribe and patronize their advertisers...

I hope the Post doesn’t mind my sharing this image of their graphic. If they do, I’ll take it down. In the meantime, I urge you to click on the image and go their site, read their stories, subscribe, and patronize their advertisers…

ICYMI: Graham tops list of GOP Trump-haters

Today I happened to stumble upon this piece from The Fix that I read when it was first published 12 days ago, and I can’t believe I didn’t bring it to y’all’s attention then.

Co-written by Chris Cillizza (see, normally I am a fan) and Aaron Blake, the piece counts down “The 10 Republicans who hate Donald Trump the most,” and in the No. 1 slot, just edging out Ben Sasse, is our own senior senator:

1. Lindsey Graham: Picking a first among equals when it comes to hating on Trump is no easy task, but the South Carolina senator stands out for two main reasons: His willingness to speak out publicly and how he does so with such flair. “You’ll never convince me that Donald Trump is the answer to the problem we have with Hispanics,” Graham said in March. “It will tear the party apart, it will divide conservatism, and we’re gonna lose to Hillary Clinton and have the third term of Barack Obama.” Back in January  Graham said that “if you nominate Trump and Cruz, I think you get the same outcome,” he told reporters. “Whether it’s death by being shot or poisoning doesn’t really matter. I don’t think the outcome will be substantially different.” (He eventually endorsed Cruz.) On the day Trump won the Indiana primary effectively sealed the GOP nomination, Graham tweeted this:

I hope he’s proud of the distinction, and will continue to be. If not, I’ll just go ahead and be proud for him…

Aw, shucks, folks; I'm not one to brag...

Aw, shucks, folks; I’m not one to brag…

How much longer will Sanders campaign for Trump?

Sanders Twitter

 

Just wondering.

I keep seeing these stories about how there’s no sign of the Democrats coming together — something I wouldn’t care about if there were an option that could be rationally considered for even a second on the other side. But there isn’t. So I care.

At the point at which a normal grownup — instead of a self-styled “Democratic socialist” who encourages immature expectations in his followers — would say, Hey, we need to make sure there is no “President Trump,” Bernie Sanders intensifies the rhetoric in his hopeless bid against the person who is going to be the Democratic nominee.

The result is that the nation’s one realistic bulwark against Trump is weakened politically. And a candidate with negatives as high as Hillary Clinton’s does not need to be weakened politically.

And that’s all Sanders can do at this point — erode the eventual Democratic nominee’s chances for the fall.

I just keep wondering: How much longer, Bernie?

Recommended: Kagan on ‘how fascism comes to America’

This piece, in The Washington Post this morning, is eminently worth reading. The headline is “This is how fascism comes to America.

We’ve see the term “fascist” applied to Donald Trump and his supporters before now, but Robert Kagan explains quite clearly why that is not mere hyperbole. Fascist movements tend to be light on policy specifics and more about the personality around which they coalesce. They are less about what they are for, and more about what (and who) they are against.

The situation in which we find ourselves keeps reminding me of the title, if not the substance, of a Hemingway short story, “A Way You’ll Never Be.” The current state of our nation’s politics seems more suited to other countries and other times, not to us. And yet here we are, the way we never thought we would be.

An excerpt from the Kagan piece:

But of course the entire Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with policy or ideology. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party, either, except in its historic role as incubator of this singular threat to our democracy. Trump has transcended the party that produced him. His growing army of supporters no longer cares about the party. Because it did not immediately and fully embrace Trump, because a dwindling number of its political and intellectual leaders still resist him, the party is regarded with suspicion and even hostility by his followers. Their allegiance is to him and him alone.mussolini

And the source of allegiance? We’re supposed to believe that Trump’s support stems from economic stagnation or dislocation. Maybe some of it does. But what Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies — his proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others” — Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees — whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under, make them pay up or make them shut up.

That this tough-guy, get-mad-and-get-even approach has gained him an increasingly large and enthusiastic following has probably surprised Trump as much as it has everyone else. Trump himself is simply and quite literally an egomaniac. But the phenomenon he has created and now leads has become something larger than him, and something far more dangerous….

You should go read the whole piece. Share it with others. It’s important that everyone, or as many people who are able, understand what is going on, and that it has nothing to do with Republicans and Democrats and the usual games they play. This is serious.

Conservative insurgency would likely guarantee Clinton win — which might be only way to save the GOP

With Reince Priebus and other GOP “leaders” abasing themselves by lining up behind Donald Trump, a few brave, principled conservatives continue to plot a third-party run.

Or at least, they were three days ago when this story was posted; the way things are going this effort could have collapsed by now:

A band of exasperated Republicans — including 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a handful of veteran consultants and members of the conservative intelligentsia — is actively plotting to draft an independent presidential candidate who could keep Donald Trump from the White House.

These GOP figures are commissioning private polling, lining up major funding sources­ and courting potential contenders, according to interviews with more than a dozen Republicans involved in the discussions. The effort has been sporadic all spring but has intensified significantly in the 10 days since Trump effectively locked up the Republican nomination.

Those involved concede that an independent campaign at this late stage is probably futile, and they think they have only a couple of weeks to launch a credible bid. But these Republicans — including commentators William Kristol and Erick Erickson and strategists Mike Murphy, Stuart Stevens and Rick Wilson — are so repulsed by the prospect of Trump as commander in chief that they are desperate to take action….

All I can say is, you go, guys.

Sasse

Sasse

Ben Sasse and John Kasich were mentioned as possible standard-bearers for this effort. But since the story was posted, Kasich has told them to count him out. And the cattle-like rank and file of his state party have fired a shot across Sasse’s bow to help him get his mind right (hang on a sec… I’m trying to think whether I can plug any more metaphors into that sentence… No… OK, let’s move on…).

The story raises this as an objection:

Further tempering the current talks on the right are fears that an independent conservative candidate could forever be a pariah by splintering the Republican vote and ensuring victory for the Democratic nominee.

But why is that an objection? If you’re a real Republican, and want to save your party from the short-fingered vulgarian, don’t you want him to lose and lose decisively, so that maybe this sort of thing never happens again? (Not that his supporters are susceptible to logic, but they do hate a loser.) Backing a conservative insurgent would seem to be the best way of furthering that result without coming out and voting for She Who Must Not Be Named, which would cause most Republicans’ heads to explode.

That seems to me as good a reason as any to back a third option — if you can get anyone to be the candidate, which remains doubtful…

This is rank nihilism, up with which I will not put

I sent a link to this interesting editorial in The Washington Post this morning to Bryan:

The rank nihilism driving the GOP’s acceptance of Trump

THE PAST weekend brought yet more evidence of Donald Trump’s contempt for truth and essential political standards. Yet the reality-television star continued to consolidate GOP support, a fact punctuated by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus’s tour on Sunday morning television, in which he argued that the “sort of traditional review and analysis of individual candidates has not applied to Donald Trump,” because Mr. Trump is a different kind of candidate — “a total outsider that’s going to cause an earthquake in Washington.”

Priebus

Priebus

In fact, it is all the more important that voters see Mr. Trump’s full business and financial record precisely because he lacks a history of public service on which to judge his suitability. How, then, can Mr. Priebus argue that basic standards, such as honesty and transparency, do not apply? Because, he explained, voters do not seem to care about them — at least not so far. And if voters don’t care, Mr. Priebus doesn’t care: “We want to win in November, and Donald Trump is someone who has been winning.”

This is not the first time that the chairman has exposed the rank nihilism that is driving Republican leaders’ acceptance of Mr. Trump, and Mr. Priebus is far from alone….

In truth, I just sent it to him because it employed the word “nihilism,” which he recently accused me of overusing:


Bryan apparently doesn’t remember when I used it to describe the anti-public education crowd. Hey, when it’s just the right word, it’s just the right word. But that aside, the editorial is a good piece that makes good points.

And Bryan responded to them thusly:

Yeah, the GOP accepting/supporting Trump simply because they want to “win” disgust me. First, they’re not going win. He’s going to get creamed. Second, they’re compromising their principles to do so. It reminds me of a quote from Churchill:

You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”

Trump supporters are choosing dishonor and they’re still going to lose.

Yes, it’s true. One after another, Republicans are turning into undead “walkers,” staggering after Trump on the way to the party’s ultimate doom. There are only a few — Paul Ryan, Ben Sasse, Bill Kristol, Lindsey Graham — with some higher brain function left, fighting a rear-guard action against the Apocalypse like Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon and the other desperate survivors. (Can you tell that over the weekend I resumed trying to catch up on “The Walking Dead”? I just finished “Claimed,” the 11th episode of the fourth season, last night.)

Where was I? Oh, yes….

You might also want to read Richard Cohen’s column headlined, “Reince Priebus, fool:

I don’t know Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican Party (such as it is). He may be a very nice guy, what with a wife and kids and probably a car or two. Still, after watching him on the Sunday interview shows, I have concluded that the man has no pride, no shame and, almost certainly, no future. After Donald Trump loses the presidential election, the name Priebus will, like Quisling or even Boycott, take on a separate meaning: fool.

Priebus went from TV studio to TV studio, four in all, on a trudge of abasement, a ride of shame. He was asked about Trump’s womanizing, his attempts in the past to pass himself off as someone else (“John Miller,” “John Barron”), his misogyny and his plan to bar all Muslims from the country (details to follow). The Mexican wall, did that come up? His belittling of John McCain, was that mentioned? His mockery of a physically handicapped reporter, did someone mention that?

There is so much to offend, so much to defend: the king’s ransom of insults and moronic plans, the childish take on torture, the misunderstanding of the Constitution, the veritable conviction of all Mexicans on the charge of rape, the distrust of NATO, the off-the-cuff suggestion that Japan and South Korea get their own nuclear weapons, and, for a moment or two, the notion that women who seek abortions should be somehow punished.

And so poor Priebus bobbed and weaved….

Will the Republican Party survive this election? Oh, I doubt any of it adherents in South Carolina will renounce it soon, but will it remain a national force? Its “leaders” for the most part, lacking courage and imagination (all they can imagine doing is what they’ve always done, lining up slavishly behind any nominee thrust upon them), seem bent on leading it to an ignominious end…

Candidates as Game of Thrones characters? Fail.

Tyrion and Lindsey have a lot in common...

Tyrion Lannister is far more like Graham than Cruz…

I think Chris Cillizza does a great job at The Fix, and I enjoy reading his stuff.

But his effort over the weekend, “If the 2016 presidential candidates were ‘Game of Thrones’ characters,” was sort of lame.

He should leave the silly pop-culture analogies to someone else, such as, I don’t know… me. I’ll stack my “Candidates as stock characters in WWII movies” against this any day.

OK, the “Hillary Clinton as Cersei Lannister” isn’t bad, although I don’t picture Cersei making the same clothing choices. But these comparisons are terrible:

Donald Trump: Robert Baratheon

There was a succession plan in place for how you picked kings. Then, Robert decided to ignore all of those rules and take the kingdom by force. Sort of like Trump just did with the Republican Party. Also, they are two men who have big appetites for everything in life — and don’t feel the need to apologize for it….

Bernie Sanders: Ellaria Sand

She’s down there in Dorne. People — including Oberyn’s brother, Doran (RIP) — don’t take her seriously. But she is a true believer and has more of a following than anyone initially thought. And you sort of suspect that she’s going to have a biggish role to play in the main plot by the end — but you can’t figure out how yet.

Ted Cruz: Tyrion Lannister

Neither one comes out of central casting. Perennially underrated. But without question, the guy who honestly diagnoses his own strengths and weaknesses best, and who not only sees the whole playing field better than anyone else but also puts in place a plan that is three steps ahead. Also: Someone most people don’t like in his world — and who doesn’t care….

All right, I can almost see Trump as Robert Baratheon — both are ill-suited to governing and take little interest in matters of policy. But Robert was a semi-sympathetic character, scoundrel that he was, and he had the wisdom to appoint Ned Stark as Hand. Trump would never do that. In fact, Trump would go on at length about how he doesn’t need a Hand, because his own hands are perfectly adequate no matter what you’ve heard, in fact they’re terrific…

Bernie as Ellaria Sand? How absurd. Bernie as a really hot woman who is pure, murderous evil, who seems to have no human feeling at all? No, if anything, Bernie is old Grand Maester Pycelle, the crotchety guy at court who makes out like he’s more decrepit than he is.

But the worst is Ted Cruz — the least likable member of the U.S. Senate as Tyrion, possibly the most sympathetic character in Westeros? I’d see Lindsey Graham as Tyrion — neither is of imposing stature, they’re both given to wisecracks about the other characters, and they both think everybody should drink more. (Cillizza cast Lindsey as Ser Davos, which is OK, but I think Tyrion is more on the money.)

There are characters on the show who would be a closer match for Cruz, but for reasons I find inadequate, Cillizza decided to leave out Ramsay Bolton and Joffrey Baratheon. He didn’t want to be that mean to any of the candidates — even if they deserved it…

The split between Los Dos amigos, Graham and McCain

Meant to post something on this this morning, but didn’t get to it, and Doug just posted something that reminded me…

Trump Civil War: Republican brothers John McCain and Lindsey Graham on different sides of battle

May 12 at 4:10 PM

Sen. Lindsey Graham paused for five full seconds and stumbled over his words pondering the question: When is the last time he split with fellow Republican Sen. John McCain on a major issue?Graham mug

“I don’t know, let me think about it,” Graham (S.C.) finally said of his closest Senate friend. “There have been several. I just can’t recall right now, right off the top of my head.”

Yet that’s what has happened in the wake of Donald Trump’s ascendancy to presumptive Republican nominee for president. In the Republican civil war over Trump, this is perhaps the most glaring example of two “brothers” fighting on opposite sides of the battlefield. It reflects a larger chasm in the Republican Party over whether to embrace the anti-establishment businessman that could end up costing the party the presidency in November…

Yeah, he probably overdid the “brother against brother” Civil War shtick, but try to look past that to the substance…

I remain proud of Lindsey on this, but I’m disappointed with McCain.

Disappointed, and confused.

The temptation of course is to say McCain is being a political opportunist to save his electoral bacon, like when he denied his own maverickness in 2010.

But that doesn’t add up. As the story says:

While the Arizona Republican is heavily favored to win his primary, his state’s GOP voters gave Trump nearly 50 percent in a blowout for the real estate mogul in the state’s March presidential contest.

Then, McCain faces a general election challenge that could be the “race of my life,” as he described it at a fundraiser that was taped by an attendeeand leaked to Politico. Despite the low profile of the likely Democratic candidate, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, McCain suggested that Trump’s divisive rhetoric and policies toward immigrants would make his race difficult because of his southwestern state’s heavy Latino bent….

OK, so… he’s poised to win his primary, which is the only place where backing Trump could help him. But he doesn’t need that help. On the other hand, he’s got a huge general election challenge in which backing Trump definitely HURTS him.

So this makes no sense as opportunism.

Guess I’ll just have to take the Arizonan at his word — that he’s backing the (presumptive) Republican nominee because he’s a Republican and that’s what he does.

That’s wrong-headed, and illustrates one of the worst aspects of partisanship, and this would be an EXCELLENT time for McCain to duck into a phone booth and change into his Maverick costume — but within the universe of partisans makes sense. Party member do that sort of thing. Wish they wouldn’t, and am glad when they don’t…

Trump envisioned as the Baron Harkonnen

13166021_10153508840119147_4024795156990540639_n

Apparently, I’m not the only one to draw an analogy between Donald Trump suddenly seizing control of the Republican Party and the Harkonnens crushing the Atreides and taking Arrakis.

My son-in-law brings my attention to the above — which I appreciate even though I think David Lynch’s “Dune” is the Worst Movie Ever Made. Or at least, the Worst Movie Ever Made That Should Have Been Awesome. Which was why, on my previous post on the subject, I used a picture of Germans taking Paris rather than something from the movie…

Losing is winning: A conservative embraces ironic contradiction

sweater

Quit your complaining and put on a sweater!

Remember Jerry Brown back in the ‘70s? Less is More? Small is beautiful?

Or for that matter, Jimmy Carter, turning down the heat in the White House and wearing cardigans? (As opposed to Richard Nixon chilling the Lincoln Sitting Room with air-conditioning so he could have a fire going in the fireplace year-round?)

I was very much into that at the time. Don’t be greedy. Have some self-discipline. Embrace self-denial. Save the planet, etc. As logic, “Less is More” seemed to me like a Christian construction, along the lines of “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

Then along came Reaganism, the huge reaction to all that sort of ironic wisdom – Only More is More! Small is just small! Right after the 1980 election, my wife visited our bank with our very young children, and the teller handed them lollipops without asking my wife whether it was OK. I blamed Reagan. What else could you expect when you replace a boiled-peanuts president with one who’s all about jellybeans? Me First and the Gimme-Gimmes.

Well, now we have Republicans – one of them, at least – embracing what might in a facile sense be regarded as a bad thing, or at least something less than good, as a positive. In a column headlined “Hillary: The Conservative Hope,” Bret Stephens declared:

For conservatives, a Democratic victory in November means the loss of another election, with all the policy reversals that entails. That may be dispiriting, but elections will come again. A Trump presidency means losing the Republican Party. Conservatives need to accept that most conservative of wisdoms—sometimes, losing is winning, especially when it offers an education in the importance of political hygiene.

He may call it the “most conservative of wisdoms,” but I’ve seen little evidence of that among those who have called themselves conservatives (although they often are not) for the past generation or so. What we’ve seen lately has been more of the “Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women” variety….

For that matter, remember when Jerry Brown had hair, and a hot girlfriend? Sometimes more was more.

On the other hand, remember when Jerry Brown had hair, and a hot girlfriend? Sometimes more was more.

The Don, unlike The Donald, did not utter threats

The Don: Man of Reasonableness who never utters threats.

The Don: Man of Reasonableness who never utters threats.

Don’t you hate it when people use pop-culture analogies and get them wrong? Check out this one, from an editorial in The Wall Street Journal today:

But the Republican Party is not one of his golf courses for which he can determine who has what tee times. A political party is an alliance of people who share enough principles to unite to win elections and run the government. They can’t be ordered around by Don Corleone-style threats. They have to be persuaded and mobilized. Are Mr. Trump and his campaign going to require loyalty oaths of every Republican officeholder who wants to attend the convention?…

No, no, no! It most assuredly was not the Don’s style to make threats! He was way too cool, too smart, too self-contained — and therefore dangerous — for that.

Sonny made threats. Neither the Don, nor Michael, ever would. Some screenshots from the book, in case your memory is flawed:

threat 1

threat 2

threat 3

See what I mean? Case closed. Be more careful in the future, WSJ.

Yeah, there was that time he was rumored to have threatened the bandleader on his godson’s behalf. But even if that was true and not just a story people told about him, it’s the exception that proves the rule.,,,

The Donald: Man of Bluster who does little else.

The Donald: Man of Bluster who does little else.

The guy Sarah Palin is endorsing over Paul Ryan

Sarah Palin is so thoroughly ticked at House Speaker Paul Ryan — for oh-so-gently declining to immediately bow down before Donald Trump — that she is endorsing his primary opponent.

Above is his campaign video. No, I don’t think he’s being brutally ironic, mocking the middle-school machismo of other Republican campaign videos (such as my personal favorite, Ted Cruz’ “Machine-Gun Bacon,” which didn’t involve an actual machine gun, but never mind; it’s the strutting that counts).

I think he’s serious — something I might have doubted before this election year.

The guy in the video, by the way, is grateful for ex-Gov. Palin’s endorsement. I don’t think he’s joking about that, either.

2016 should have come with an official tagline: “They’re Not Kidding”…

What some real Republicans think of their nominee-to-be

Some of my friends here, to my amazement, think Donald Trump will be just another nominee, business as usual. For instance, Doug said this yesterday:

It’s funny to watch liberals react to Trump the way conservatives responded to Obama. Same level of hate, righteous indignation, hyperbole….

I responded, rather excitedly:

The way liberals reacted to BUSH compared to the way the right reacted (to) Obama. Are you really incapable of seeing that this is COMPLETELY different from that, that we have entered unprecedented space, a situation that is qualitatively unlike anything we’ve seen before? Or are you just acting like it to yank our chains?

And what’s this “liberals” stuff? I’m a liberal now? … Lindsey Graham and that Koch brother are liberals?…

Hold on while I catch my breath… But Doug isn’t alone; others have tried to normalize this alien from Planet Reality TV. Politics as usual. (Bud, still suffering from BDS after all these years, has insisted numerous times that Trump is nowhere near as outlandish as the guy we elected president in 2000 an 2004.)

Let’s examine one aspect of this phenomenon: The assertion that Trump’s detractors are just “liberals” acting the way the right did over President Obama.

At first glance, the video above would seem to support the theory: After all, it comes from the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Here’s the thing, though: Those are not actors pretending to be Republican stalwarts trashing Donald Trump. Those are Republican stalwarts — actual, dyed-in-the-wool Republicans, as opposed to the newbies who presume to call real Republicans RINOs — trashing Donald Trump.

Maybe for the general election Hillary should just stay off the campaign trail and let her campaign amplify what Republicans think of her opponent. This, as a foretaste, is pretty devastating.

But that stuff is weeks and months old. Let’s look at what some “liberals” have had to say about the presumptive GOP nominee:

  • Former President George H.W. BushDoes not plan to endorse Trump, and will not attend the national party convention that will nominate him.
  • Former President George W. BushDitto on both points.
  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan — Asked whether he’ll endorse Trump, he said “I’m just not ready to do that at this point.” Why? To give some cover to GOP House members who need to disassociate themselves from this nightmare, to keep from sinking his own future prospects by association with such an albatross, and in general to try to save the Republican Party.
  • Former GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney — You knew already he was appalled by Trump, and did what he could to stop him. Praising his former running mate Ryan, Romney said last night, “I am dismayed at where we are now, I wish we had better choices…”
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham — “I absolutely will not support Hillary Clinton for President.” At the same time, “I also cannot in good conscience support Donald Trump because I do not believe he is a reliable Republican conservative nor has he displayed the judgment and temperament to serve as Commander in Chief.”
  • Former GOP Presidential Nominee John McCain — “If Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona, with over 30 percent of the vote being the Hispanic vote, no doubt that this may be the race of my life.” (That said, I’m disappointed to report that McCain plans to support the nominee. Arizona’s other senator does not. See below.)
  • Arizona Sen. Jeff FlakeCNN quotes him as saying”some of Trump’s positions” make it “very difficult for me” to support him.
  • Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) — “I vehemently oppose our nominee.”

Then at the extreme end — among those ready to back Hillary Clinton — there’s former McCain aide Mark Salter:

And finally, Ben Howe, editor of RedState blog:

A Trump Rorschach test: What do you see here?

Here’s how Donald Trump tries to win over a constituency he has deeply insulted:

This is the kind of thing that provides an indication whether you are susceptible to being a Trump supporter or not.

Do you see this as:

a) The candidate just been one heckuva smooth charmer, bewitching all the Pedros and Marias into loving him in spite of all; or

b) The sort of ham-handed, tone-deaf gesture that makes you a little embarrassed for the human race.

As Slate wrote, “How did he forgot the sombrero? Where’s the mariachi band? Does he want to win or not?”

Karl, all Trump ‘needs’ is to LOSE, for the sake of the nation

Democrats, and probably even some Republicans, demonize Karl Rove. Some probably have a litany of specific sins they can recite, but in general he seems to be for them a dark, menacing presence pulling strings in the background, like “the Koch brothers,” or Sauron behind Saruman.

But whatever he has done or not done to deserve that reputation, he has assuredly done a monstrous thing today.

STAFF PORTRAITS OF KARL ROVE.

Rove in the early 2000s.

He has offered, without apology or irony, advice to Donald Trump on how to win the general election. As though he were just another Republican candidate, another client (which is perhaps what Rove hopes he will be), and this is just another election.

In the same 24 hours in which his former bosses, Bushes 41 and 43, have said they do not plan to support Trump, and in which one of those very Koch brothers has hinted he might vote for Hillary Clinton, Rove has offered Trump calm, sensible, bloodless pointers on how to succeed. As though his success were a desirable thing.

His Wall Street Journal piece is headlined “What Donald Trump Needs Now,” and the subhed tells you that Rove isn’t being facetious: “To stand a chance, he must tone it down, hire a fact-checker and open his wallet.” To which I respond, to hell with what Trump “needs;” what the nation needs is for him to lose, and lose big.

The closest Rove comes to criticizing Trump comes at the beginning, when he says Trump’s “success was achieved only by inflicting tremendous damage to the party,” and that his suggestion that Cruz’ father was connected to the JFK assassination was “nuts.” But rather than treat these as evidence of something fundamentally wrong with Trump, Rove looks upon them as rough edges to be smoothed. Trump has damaged the party? Well, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. As for saying something “nuts,” Rove is like, Ya knucklehead! We need to break you of that silly habit so you can win this thing!

As though he were coaching an otherwise gifted boxer to remember not to drop his guard.

The everyday ordinariness, the sheer banality, of the advice Rove offers is appalling. An excerpt:

For the general election, the Trump campaign is behind in everything: digital operations, the ground game, advertising, you name it. The campaign must add new people and talents but would be wise to leave the ground game to the Republican National Committee. Sign the “joint fundraising agreements” that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and the GOP Senate and House campaign committees must have to collect the resources necessary for a massive voter turnout effort that is beyond the Trump campaign’s abilities.

Mr. Trump should also avoid attacking Mrs. Clinton in ways that hurt him and strengthen her. He is already in terrible trouble with women: In the April 14 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 69% of women rate him negatively, 58% very negatively. So stop saying things like: “Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5% of the vote.” He was lucky her response to that jibe was so lame. Next time it won’t be.

Mr. Trump must also retool his stump speech. Voters will tire of The Donald if he doesn’t have a second rhetorical act with far fewer insults and more substance. Reading more speeches from a teleprompter, particularly on the economy, will help. The Trumpistas argue that voters don’t need details, but those up for grabs in November do. These speeches will put meat on the bones of his policy views and yield new material for the stump….

As though… as though the idea of Trump becoming president was just an interesting challenge, a puzzle to be solved, and not an unthinkable nightmare for the country.

This same day, E.J. Dionne has a piece in The Washington Post in which he appeals to Republicans, the media, and the rest of us to avoid this very thing. “Please don’t mainstream Trump,” he pleads, and he’s absolutely right. Don’t act like this is just another election, and Trump just another nominee.

He concludes:

My friend, the writer Leon Wieseltier, suggested a slogan that embodies the appropriate response to Trump’s ascent: “Preserve the Shock.”

“The only proper response to his success is shame, anger and resistance,” Wieseltier said. “We must not accustom ourselves to this. . . . Trump is not a ‘new normal.’ No amount of economic injustice, no grievance, justifies the resort to his ugliness.”

Staying shocked for six months is hard. It is also absolutely necessary.

Amen to that, E.J….