Category Archives: Parties

Finally, the way is clear for my man Kasich, as he planned

All the media are missing the real story tonight:

Finally, the way is clear for John Kasich, the last hope for sane Republicans everywhere.

No more distraction from that Cruz guy, whom John Boehner summed up so neatly. The nation has dodged a bullet, but it still has a howitzer round coming on, name of Trump.

Finally, Kasich has a shot at some of the press attention he deserves. And, one hopes, notice from the voters. Just enough to keep delaying Trump getting that magic number. Just enough to stay alive, to remain the one alternative going into Cleveland.

And where else can the Bushes and the Lindsey Grahams and the Romneys now turn? It’s time for them to line up behind a guy they actually respect for a change. They’ve tried the opposite course, and it didn’t work.

Oh, they all said he was crazy. And just watch — by tomorrow the calls for him to drop out will be legion.

But he won’t pay attention. He knows what he’s doing. He knows it’s a hoop and not a “ring.” He’ll keep playing with only four guys on the court, like Coach Norman Dale, and everyone will call him mad. His gameplan has always been to make it to a contested convention.

Except Shooter, sitting alone in a dark corner of the bleachers grinning and shaking his head, the one guy in the gym who knows what the coach is up to, and admires him for it.

In case you haven’t picked up on it, I’m Shooter. You see me at 2:37 in the clip above…

DennisHopper-Hoosiers-Shooter

Does Fiorina make you like Cruz any better?

Carly Fiorina campaigning in Columbia, May 2015

Carly Fiorina campaigning in Columbia, May 2015. Hey, there’s Emile DeFelice behind her!

It doesn’t me. But it doesn’t make me like him any less, either.

In calling this to my attention, Jeff Mobley called it a “Hail Mary.” Which may be apt. Or is he “calling an audible?” I don’t know; I’m not a master of sports analogies.

Anyway, here’s the news before it happens:

Ted Cruz will announce Wednesday that Carly Fiorina will be his vice presidential nominee if he’s the Republican Party’s pick for president, according to three sources with knowledge of the announcement.

Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO, has been among Cruz’s most loyal and active surrogates since she ended her own 2016 GOP presidential bid after a poor finish in New Hampshire in February.

The Cruz campaign deliberated over whether to pick Fiorina for the last two weeks, according to one person familiar with the move. It has polled the potential ticket, examining it for its prospective strengths and weaknesses.

The hope within the campaign is that Fiorina will help Cruz in California, which will award 172 delegates on June 7. Fiorina is scheduled to give the keynote address at this weekend’s California Republican Party convention, speaking hours after Cruz takes the stage.

The move comes at a time of growing desperation within Cruz circles. Some in the campaign worry that the Texas senator will lose Indiana on Tuesday and lose other key states in May, paving the way for a Trump nomination….

‘Ten Reasons Moderates Should Vote for Ted Cruz’ (if they are Republicans)

Jeff Mobley brings to our attention this interesting piece in National Review, “Ten Reasons Moderates Should Vote for Ted Cruz.” It’s by a guy named Dan McLaughlin.

Jeff makes these observations:

From reason nine of Ten Reasons Moderates Should Vote for Ted Cruz:

Ted Cruz loves the Constitution like a fat kid loves cake, like a dog loves a tennis ball, like Donald Trump loves the sound of his own name.

Reasons four and six were somewhat interesting. I hadn’t really thought about reason six before.

And it is an interesting piece, which raises some points many of us may not have thought about. In the end, though, for me, it fails to persuade. That’s because the list assumes, since you’re reading National Review, that you are a Republican and think like one. It’s not aimed at independents who just want the best (or least bad) candidate to win, regardless of party.

Here are the 10 reasons:

  • One: This Election Is Too Important to Punt.
  • Two: Only Ted Cruz Can Stop Donald Trump.

    McLaughlin

    McLaughlin

  • Three: Ted Cruz Might Beat Hillary Clinton; Donald Trump Won’t.
  • Four: Ted Cruz Knows What He’s Doing.
  • Five: The Republican Party Can Survive Losing with Ted Cruz.
  • Six: Ted Cruz Won’t Rest until He Gets His Shot.
  • Seven: You Can Live with Ted Cruz and His Supporters.
  • Eight: Ted Cruz Might Be the Man to Tame Trumpism.
  • Nine: Ted Cruz Loves the Constitution.
  • Ten: President Cruz Would Be More Responsible Than You Think.

Before you consider my objections to some of them, go read the explanations. Some of them are pretty good.

And here are my objections, based on my UnParty perspective:

  • One: All elections are too important to punt, but this one is no more so than others. This assertion is based in the Republican assumption that “Twelve years of Democratic control of the White House, with its expansive powers and massive cultural footprint, is intolerable.” No, it isn’t. It’s no worse than 12 years of GOP control.
  • Two: You know I disagree with the thinking here, but we’ve been over that again and again…
  • Three: Again, defeating Hillary Clinton is only a desired thing if the one defeating her would make a better president. Hillary is a mess, and with all her baggage is not someone that a reasonable, objective, nonpartisan person would actually want to become president. But she’s far more likely to govern from a pragmatic center, relatively free of unbending ideology, than Cruz. The Republicans only have one candidate left who would be a better deal as president, and that’s Kasich.
  • Five: I don’t care about the Republican Party surviving, not if it thinks its only choices are Trump and Cruz.
  • Seven: Basically, the argument here is We Republicans are used to dealing with people like Cruz supporters, so it won’t be so painful. Speak for yourselves, GOP.
  • Eight: The argument here is that Trump and Cruz have enough in common that Cruz could take Trumpism and channel it for good. The trouble is, their areas of agreement are some of the worst things about both of them. Dealbreaker after dealbreaker, ladies.
  • Nine: Yes, he does love the Constitution, and at least knows a lot about it, which distinguishes him sharply from Trump. I love the Constitution, too. But I noticed something a number of years back: Political candidates who go on and on and on and on about the Constitution quite frequently have some eccentric ideas about that same document. They see unconstitutionality everywhere they look. But folks, most political disagreement isn’t between the constitutional and the unconstitutional; it’s between options that represent different ways to go within the framework of constitutionality.
  • Ten: Yeah… tell me another one.

Anyway, as you can see from all that typing I just did, at least the piece made me think. Maybe it will do the same for you…

Samuelson tries to inject some reason into ‘gender pay gap’

From Robert Samuelson at The Washington Post:

Samuelson

Robert Samuelson

The gender pay gap is back in the news — and it may become a major issue in the presidential campaign. It seems an open-and-shut case of job discrimination. Women earn only 79 percent of men’s average hourly wages. Who could favor that? Actually, the comparison is bogus. A more accurate ratio, after adjusting for differences in gender employment patterns, is closer to 92 percent. Even the remaining gap of 8 percentage points may not stem fully from discrimination….

… if women were paid a fifth less for doing the same work as men, there would be pervasive discrimination. That’s how the pay gap is interpreted by many. They demand “equal pay for equal work.” But that’s not what the pay gap shows. It’s simply the ratio of women’s average hourly pay to men’s average hourly pay. The jobs in the comparison are not the same, and when these differences are taken into account, the ratio of women’s pay to men’s rises to almost 92 percent from 79 percent, say Blau and Kahn….

After all the adjustments, the remaining 8-percentage-point unexplained gender gap could reflect discrimination….

But the persisting gap could have other causes….

Go read the whole thing. I’ve given you about as much as I can under Fair Use rules. (I think. Fair Use is open to interpretation.)

In any case, don’t expect the study Samuelson is writing about or anything else to modify the way Democrats speak about this. That 79 percent, and the assumption that it’s all about discrimination, is far too important to their whole “War on Women” meme to allow it to be sullied by considerations of reality.

Both parties like to trump up issues to generate outrage among their respective bases. This is a favorite among the Democrats.

Alternative GOP universes: One with Kasich, one without

There are two non-overlapping universes out there among those who want to save the Republican Party from Donald Trump (and, if they truly care, from Ted Cruz).

The guy Republicans will nominate if they wan to win.

The guy Republicans will nominate if they wan to win.

In one, John Kasich — as the only other survivor of the original 17, and as the only candidate likely to beat Hillary Clinton in the fall — is the obvious alternative.

In the other universe, Kasich either doesn’t exist or exists only as an irritant who should go away, and quickly.

You know I live in the first universe, and praise its wise inhabitants on a regular basis.

Just yesterday, NPR was interviewing former RNC chair and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and he quite naturally mentioned Kasich as the one electable candidate out there:

BARBOUR: Well, I’m certainly a regular Republican. I’ve been a Republican since 1968. But people are looking at two things – electability – and today, in The Wall Street Journal, Clinton leads Trump by 11 points. Almost every poll shows Trump running under 40 in a general election. That’s very scary because if we have a presidential candidate that runs in the low 40s or below, then a lot of Republicans down the ticket are going to lose. They can’t overcome that.

SIEGEL: Does Cruz pose the same threat to the party as Trump?

BARBOUR: His numbers are not as bad today, but one has to worry about electability. And you look at Kasich – he leads Mrs. Clinton by six or seven points in the poll, not as well-known. But we have in Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton the two most unfavorably seen presidential candidates ever….

Which, you know, should be obvious to everyone. Like, you know, duh.

Then there’s the other universe, which all-too-often asserts itself. Today I was reading a piece by Jennifer Rubin, who often (but not always) makes a lot of sense, headlined “It’s nearly time for that white knight to show up.” The piece mentioned some really esoteric, out there possibilities for who that knight might be:

That, however, presupposes a candidate, one on which the #NeverTrump forces could agree upon as their white knight. There will be those principled conservatives who want a champion (e.g. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, former Texas governor Rick Perry, former Indiana govenor Mitch Daniels, current Indiana Gov. Mike Pence), those who think only a respected public person with impeccable national-security credentials has a shot (e.g. retired general James Mattis), Mitt Romney supporters who want one more go at the presidency and still others who think a moderate with appeal to Democrats (e.g. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty) is the only feasible option. Lacking the benefit of a party primary system or caucus, the third-candidate supporters would not have the benefit of testing how contenders do with actual voters. The risk obviously is coming up with someone real voters don’t find compelling….

Who? Sasse? Mattis? Really?

Bizarrely, the column does not even mention Kasich, the one sane alternative who has actually put himself out there, and who has survived the brutal culling process to date. You know, the guy who came in second in Trump’s big win in New York last night.

This is because, apparently, Ms. Rubin really does not like Kasich.

But you know, once you eliminate the two unthinkables and go looking for a knight, the most obvious choice is Sir John, the only guy out there who is already in his armor and mounted up, and who has continued faithfully on his quest lo these many months…

Beth Bernstein celebrates passage of HPV bill

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Since I missed this in the news last week –which means maybe you did, too — I thought I’d share Rep. Beth Bernstein‘s newsletter with you. She also makes passing reference to the Richland County Recreation Commission scandal:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

This week at the State House, we were back in full force after our two week furlough.  One piece of news that I am particularly excited to share is the passage of my bill, H.3204, the Cervical Cancer Prevention Act.  The bill, with minor amendments, overwhelmingly passed in the Senate last week, and the House concurred with a vote of 107-1!  It will now be sent to the Governor for her signature, after a 7 year-long effort!  The bill will allow DHEC to provide a brochure about the human papillomavirus (HPV) to all parents of students entering into 6th grade and allows DHEC to administer the HPV vaccine. This is a monumental step for educating the public about the virus and stopping this preventable form of cancer.  Other notable bills discussed this week include a “Safe Harbor for Exploited Minors” bill, a requirement for literacy coaches to be trained for students with dyslexia, and a lengthy debate about our infrastructure and finance reform in South Carolina — the “Roads Bill.” 

In response to the most recent revelations concerning the Richland County Recreation Commission, Senator Joel Lourie, Representative James Smith and Ihave called on Sheriff Leon Lott to coordinate a special investigation of the Recreation Commission, its director and members of the governing commission.  We have had concerns for some time now over allegations of misconduct at the Commission, and we trust Sheriff Lott and the Richland County Sheriff’s department will give this case their full attention.

As always, I am interested in hearing your thoughts and concerns on the issues.

Thank you for electing me to serve you and our community at the State House.

Best,

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Once, parties provided a hedge against excesses of direct democracy. No more…

I enjoyed seeing, in The Washington Post today, a Muslim from birth and son of an Islamic scholar explaining the American political system to Donald Trump, and other “real” Americans who are as confused about it as the Donald is.

I refer to Fareed Zakaria’s weekly column. An excerpt:

Having recently discovered how the nomination process works in the Republican Party, Donald Trump is furious. “They wanted to keep people out,” he bellowed. “This is a dirty trick.” In fact, Mr. Trump is right on the first count and wrong on the second. Political parties do have mechanisms to “keep people out.” But far from being a trick, they are the crux of what makes parties valuable in a democracy.

Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria

Clinton Rossiter begins his classic book “Parties and Politics in America” with this declaration: “No America without democracy, no democracy without politics, no politics without parties.” In a large and diverse country, to get things done, people need devices to navigate the political system, organize themselves, channel particular interests and ideologies, and negotiate with others who have differing interests and views. Political parties have traditionally played this role in the United States. And they have often played it as a counterweight to the momentary passions of the public.

At the heart of the American political party is the selection of its presidential candidate. This process used to be controlled by party elites — mayors, governors, legislators. In the early 20th century, an additional mechanism was added to test a candidate’s viability on the campaign trail: primaries. Still, between 1912 and 1968, the man who won a party’s presidential primaries became the nominee less than half the time. Dwight Eisenhower was chosen not by primary voters but in a complex, contested convention.

1968 was the year things changed….

… and not for the better. That was when the Democrats, and then the Republicans turned toward letting primaries decide.

Which was when the parties lost the one characteristic that made them useful — providing the service of vetting candidates so that total whack jobs didn’t show up on the November ballot.

I remember the late David Broder waxing nostalgic about what parties had once been, and he hoped, could be again: entities that asked candidates the key question of “Who sent you?” — meaning, what reliable person or people vouch for you? The problem he was lamenting is that too often, the answer had become “I sent myself.” Which is how you get socially dysfunctional egoists such as Trump — and Ted Cruz — threatening to take the GOP nomination.

My response to that was that to the extent parties played that vetting role in the distant past, there was no sign they were prepared to play it now. And as I said then and now, the evil parties do greatly outweigh any slight benefit they still provide.

Anyway, I thank Mr. Zakaria for providing this small history lesson to people like the caller I heard on NPR this week who wanted to know why convention delegates had any say in the nominating process….

 

The editorial consensus for Kasich

Real Clear Politics

I’ve mentioned a number of times, approvingly, the way the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal keeps trying to wake up Republicans and make them see that their only hope out of their current mess is John Kasich.

They’re not alone in this. The New York Times — while it cares far less about the fate of the GOP — is equally bemused at the way Republicans seem determined to charge off a cliff:

At a televised Republican town hall on Tuesday, it was painful to watch farmers, students and a man whose son died of a drug overdose pose earnest questions to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz, who were more interested in attacking each other. Only John Kasich connected with these voters.

Despite its noble aim and big budget, “Never Trump” has become a panicky reaction in search of a strategy. In Wisconsin, “Never Trump” means “How About Cruz?” as self-interested leaders like Gov. Scott Walker try to sell Republicans on a dangerously reactionary senator as an improvement over a dangerously ignorant businessman. But for the state’s — and the nation’s — moderate conservatives, “Never Trump” should more logically mean “Maybe Kasich.”…

That’s less significant, of course. Republicans historically run from advice from that quarter, while some of them — the kinds of people who used to run the GOP — at least still care somewhat about what the Journal says.

But I find the NYT‘s chiming in interesting, because it points to something common to editorial board members, regardless of whether they lean left or right or neither: If you make your living studying current events and issues and thinking carefully about them — very carefully, because you know the words you write about them will be picked apart by thousands of people — you tend to see certain things, whether they are what you want to see or not. And you tend to marvel at people who are swept along by half-thoughts and emotions and seem to willfully refuse to see those things.

(Even if you’re an editorial writer at the NYT who actively wants to see Republicans lose, you’ve got to wonder, What are those guys thinking?)

You really don’t have to think all that hard to see that Kasich is the only rational choice at this point for Republicans. You really don’t have to go beyond all those poll numbers at the Real Clear Politics site. (Although if you do go beyond that, you can make other arguments.)

See, Republicans? If you go with Trump, you lose. If you go with Cruz, you lose. If you go with Kasich, you win. See? Was that so hard?

Not that there’s a guarantee that you win — there are too many variables for that. But at least you go into the fall with a chance to win, instead of having everything stacked against you.

Why doesn’t everyone see that? Oh, I don’t expect Trump supporters to see it — they’re too invested in their guy, and they seem to be allergic to facts and such. But the Grahams and Romneys of the world certain should see it. And you know what is really puzzling? I think they do see it; they’ve just made a very cynical calculation that they can’t make their fellow Republicans see it, too…

The likeliest scenario is that (shudder) Cruz is nominated — an outcome that must be fiercely resisted

Some of you continue to throw mudballs at my hopes for Kasich, urging me to be realistic about the numbers.

You’re missing the point. I see the numbers. It’s not about the numbers. It’s about there being some hope for the country, some way out of the current mess. I think it’s essential that we not forget that this one way out exists.

For instance, Doug (who hates it when I try to cling to hope) asks, looking at the schedule of remaining primaries, “where does Kasich win?”

My reply, which I repeat here because I think it’s worth a separate thread…

I don’t know. It’s not anything I’ve given any thought to. The point is for him to survive, to still be at the table when the nomination is decided at the convention.

Yes, it’s bad he didn’t do better in Wisconsin. But again, I haven’t pinned my hopes on him WINNING anywhere else, although it would be awesome if he did.

The point is a contested convention, one at which alternatives to Trump and Cruz can emerge. It could be Romney or Ryan, although I’d prefer it be Kasich — not only because I like him better, but because he subjected himself to the primary process and survived.

If you want to talk probabilities (what is likely to happen, rather than what SHOULD happen, which is what concerns me), then I say the most likely outcome is that Cruz is nominated. Party leaders (to the extent such creatures still exist) don’t have the guts, or the juice, to deny the nomination to both the first and second-place finishers (it remains to be seen whether they have the character to deny it to Trump).

This probability was greatly increased by Graham, Romney, et al., lining up behind Cruz — which to me was outrageous. They have set a pattern of capitulation to this man they all despise, one likely to be repeated at the convention.

What I’m doing is looking for some hope, any hope, that the nation will not be faced with the much-damaged Hillary Clinton (or, even worse, Bernie) on the one hand and either Trump or Cruz on the other. It is essential that there be SOME hope. This is not a game; this is our country…

WSJ still advocating for Kasich. Good for them…

I don’t always agree with The Wall Street Journal editorial board (they’re a bit too… Mark Sanford… for me), but when they’re right they’re right.

And they’ve been very right lately about John Kasich, making the logical arguments for him that seem to escape a lot of Republicans who ought to know better, such as our own Lindsey Graham.

In today’s editorial, “The Real Kasich Threat,” the editors first note how fervently both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz want Kasich out of the race, then point out, again, how unwise that would be for the GOP:

As for Mr. Cruz, he’d have to sweep nearly every remaining primary to get to 1,237. He also knows Mr. Kasich has a better chance than the Texan does of denying Mr. Trump delegates in states like Pennsylvania and Maryland that vote on April 26. But Mr. Cruz wants to drive Mr.

The guy Republicans will nominate if they wan to win.

The guy Republicans will nominate, if they want to win.

Kasich out of the race before the convention even if it means running a greater risk that Mr. Trump can get closer to 1,237. Mr. Cruz wants Mr. Kasich out now because he figures the delegates in Cleveland will choose Mr. Cruz if the choice is down to him and Mr. Trump. But if Mr. Kasich is still an option, the delegates might favor him as a better November candidate.

Mr. Kasich defeats Hillary Clinton by 6.3 points in current head-to-head polls, according to the Real Clear Politics average. Mr. Cruz loses by 3.1 and Mr. Trump by 10.8. Changing these polls would require gut renovations of the Trump and Cruz public images that will be hard for either to execute.

Mr. Kasich did the public service of winning Ohio’s delegates—with which Mr. Trump might have locked up the nomination—and he deserves a chance to see if he can win Pennsylvania or pick up delegates in the East and California. He has no hope of reaching 1,237 delegates before the convention, but what Messrs. Trump and Cruz really fear is that the convention might want to nominate a potential winner.

Absolutely.

Tim Robbins vs. South Carolina Democrats

Perhaps you are a great admirer of Tim Robbins, the actor/activist. I am not. To me, the pinnacle of his career was when he played the insufferable, insipid Ian/Ray in “High Fidelity.” Fairly or not, I saw him as playing himself in that role, and it’s an impression I’m unlikely to shake.

See the clip above. To me, that’s Tim Robbins. Go get him, Rob!

Now we have Tim Robbins commenting on South Carolina politics, in a manner worthy of Ian (or is it Ray?):

Pretty much everyone seems to think Robbins looked foolish here, including Philip Bump at The Fix:

This is a not-uncommon argument among supporters of Sanders. Yes, Hillary Clinton is winning. But she’s winning largely because she ran up big margins in Southern states. That, the argument goes, bodes poorly for the general, since those Southern states usually vote Republican.

This is a bad argument that borders on insulting.

First of all, South Carolina has a lot more people than Guam. Among the other bits of data one can point out about the 2016 Democratic primary is that Clinton has received far more votes than  Sanders — 2.5 million more. Among those is a margin of about 175,000 more votes in the state of South Carolina, a margin that by itself is larger than the population of Guam.

Which means that Clinton came away from South Carolina with a net delegate haul of plus-25 — she earned 25 more delegates than did Sanders. In the Democrats’ proportional system, that’s a big margin. It’s a margin that Sanders has only managed once, in the Washington caucuses late last month. So in that sense, South Carolina matters a lot more than Guam….

But the person most worked up about what Robbins said may be South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison. Here are some of his Tweets on the subject. He started off nice enough, but by the end he was about ready to rip the air-conditioner out of the wall like Dick in the clip above:

There’s no excuse for Cruz calling for ‘carpet’ bombing

Walls of houses of Wesel still stand, as do the churches, but a great part of the town was destroyed when the German commander forced the Allied troops to fight their way street by street through the ruins. Germany, 1945. Army. (OWI) Exact Date Shot Unknown NARA FILE #: 208-N-39903 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1336

Wesel was 97% destroyed before it was finally taken by Allied troops in 1945. See that carpet of craters? Wikipedia doesn’t SAY those are bomb craters, but what else might they be?

I tend to agree pretty frequently with Charles Krauthammer on national security issues, but I was disappointed in him over the weekend.

Did you see his column assessing the foreign policy approaches of Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, which he termed, respectively, “passivist,” “internationalist,” “unilateralist” and “mercantilist.”

There was much of value in the column, and some things to enjoy — such as his observation that Trump’s worldview comes closest to that of King Philip II of Spain (1556-1598).

Of course, I was disappointed that he left out Kasich — I reject the notion that we have no options left but these four. But to his credit, he promised that “If Kasich pulls off a miracle, he’ll get his own column.” Which he would, of course, unquestionably deserve at that point.

Most of his observations are sound, and he is scrupulously careful to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton would likely be less reluctant to take effective action in the world than her erstwhile boss, President Obama. He says her nearest historical analog is her husband’s approach in the 1990s — which isn’t as good as, say, Tony Blair in that decade, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

What gets me is the way he bends over backwards to make Cruz’ approach palatable:

The most aggressive of the three contenders thus far. Wants post-Cold War U.S. leadership restored. Is prepared to take risks and act alone when necessary. Pledges to tear up the Iran deal, cement the U.S.-Israel alliance and carpet bomb the Islamic State.

Overdoes it with “carpet” — it implies Dresden — although it was likely just an attempt at rhetorical emphasis….

Really?!?!?!? “Overdoes it?” The fact that Cruz uses that word utterly disqualifies him from consideration as POTUS. Whether he really wants to do that, or merely does not understand what the word means, he is beyond the pale.

Here’s what “carpet bombing” means:

Carpet bombing, also known as saturation bombing, is a large aerial bombing done in a progressive manner to inflict damage in every part of a selected area of land.[1][2][3][4] The phrase evokes the image of explosions completely covering an area, in the same way that a carpet covers a floor. Carpet bombing is usually achieved by dropping many unguided bombs.

And yes, when we think of “carpet bombing” we do think of Dresden, and Tokyo, and Cologne, and all those other places that we sent thousands of planes over in an effort to destroy everything below — including all those civilians.

I’m not going to get into the ethics of our having done that in the course of total war, in a time in which we lacked the technical precision of modern munitions. I’m just going to say that that is what is clearly, unquestionably meant when one says “carpet bombing” — that you’re dropping a carpet of bombs to destroy everything and everyone in the covered area, and let God sort them out.

There is no room in the 21st century, when we have so many other options, for a suggestion like that. The term is primitive, atavistic, barbaric — which is no doubt why Cruz said it, in an attempt to appeal to Trumpist sensibilities.

Yet Krauthammer is completely blasé about it, with that forgiving “overdoes.”

But that’s just the setup to the really bad thing: His assertion that Cruz’ closest historical analog is… Ronald Reagan.

So it’s come to this: That folks on the right are working so hard to talk themselves into settling for Cruz that Charles Krauthammer can equate the Cruz worldview with that of the one guy Republicans believe could do no wrong.

That’s just inexcusable.

Trump abortion comment may be the ultimate example of his malevolent cluelessness

Donald Trump, engaged in what passes for 'thought' with him.

Donald Trump, engaged in what passes for ‘thought’ with him.

Donald Trump outdid himself yesterday, managing to alienate everyone on both sides of the abortion divide with his utter malevolent cluelessness:

APPLETON, Wis. — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump came under fire Wednesday for saying that women should be subject to “some sort of punishment” for undergoing illegal abortions, a position that antiabortion and abortion rights groups alike emphatically denounced….

This prompted plenty of comments to the effect that Trump had evidently not thought carefully about the issue — which would mean that he has treated this issue the way he treats all others.

Say “Donald Trump thinking about issues,” and I picture a flat rock skipping across a pond before it runs out of momentum and eventually sinks to the bottom. Trump is the rock, in case the metaphor is too complex for you.

I would take it another step, though, in this case. I think what he said reflects that, to the extent he’s thought about the issue at all, he still holds a view (left over from his “very pro-choice” days, back when that was more convenient for him) of us pro-lifers propagated by those who oppose us: That our opposition to abortion arises not out of a concern for the unborn life, but from a hostility to women and their interests.

To the extent that something one would characterize as “thought” passed through Trump’s mind before he spoke in response to prompting from his interviewer, it seems to have been along these lines: “This is the way those pro-lifers think, so since I’m pretending to be one of them, I’ll say that.”

Mixed in with that, we should probably take into account his general preference for sounding “tough,” whatever the issue. The tougher — and the stupider — he sounds, the more his base seems to like him.

So where does this leave us? With this guy still the GOP front-runner, which means that unless a miracle can be pulled off at the convention, the allegedly pro-life party will be represented by someone who holds actual pro-lifers in contempt, while the left will characterize him the way this NYT headline yesterday did: “Donald Trump, Abortion Foe, Eyes ‘Punishment’ for Women…” Even though Trump is as much of a “abortion foe” as the aforementioned flat rock.

Presidential campaign generally produce much heat, and little light, on the abortion issue. But things seldom go this dark…

Graham laughing at himself for backing Cruz

 

I meant to include this clip with the previous post, but forgot.

So enjoy.

Lindsey Graham would not do well in the Oceania of Orwell’s 1984. If he tried to mouth the latest absurdity — say, “We have always been at war with Eastasia; we have always been allies with Eurasia,” he’d crack up. He’d laugh right in Big Brother’s face. Then it would be off to Room 101 with him.

Basically, he’s too honest to pull of the “I back Cruz” thing. He just can’t pull it off.

Graham and his ilk have lost all faith in their own party

He's their best candidate, and would win the election. But top Republicans see no way he can get the nomination.

He’s their best candidate, and would win the election. But top Republicans see no way he can get the nomination.


I think I’m starting to get it now.

Up to now, I couldn’t figure out why Lindsey Graham and other mainstreamers such as Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney were backing Ted Cruz, when we know:

I couldn’t figure it out until I read this observation in a couple of places over the last day or two:

Graham admits that Ohio Governor John Kasich “would be the best nominee, but he doesn’t have a chance.” So he tries to talk up Cruz as the one candidate who might be able to slow Trump’s march to the nomination…

Let’s unpack that statement that Kasich “would be the best nominee, but he doesn’t have a chance.”

He doesn’t mean Kasich doesn’t have a chance in the fall. He’s the one Republican still running who does consistently win a matchup with Hillary. In fact, if Republicans actually want to do what parties are supposed to exist to do — win elections — no one would waste a second talking about doing anything but nominating Kasich.

But while Graham knows he can count on the American people (sorry, Barton) to choose Kasich, he’s convinced that his own party will never do so.

Are you following me? Here we have a situation in which one of the smartest Republicans holding elective office has made the calculation that the best candidate, and the one who would lead the party to victory, has no chance of being nominated by his party.

That’s what “he doesn’t have a chance” means. Not that Kasich wouldn’t win the election in a walk, but that the Republican Party is so royally fouled up that it won’t nominate him, under any circumstances. No matter how urgently or fervently Graham and other rational people might advocate for him.

It’s so hopeless that they won’t even TRY. They’re resigned to failure because of their lack of confidence in their fellow Republicans. Defeat in November is a given. In fact, they’re counting on it, to save the country. They just believe the defeat will be less ignominious if Cruz is their nominee rather than Trump. They think there will be some pieces left to pick up this way.

They think that with Cruz, there’ll be something still to preserve from this Götterdämmerung.

I believe that is the saddest commentary on the Republican Party I’ve ever read in my life.

Are Graham, Bush and Romney just resigned to Hillary now?

So are the erstwhile voices of GOP reason utterly resigned to a President Hillary Clinton?

So are the erstwhile voices of GOP reason now utterly resigned to a President Hillary Clinton?

I can see no other reasonable explanation for Lindsey Graham raising money for Ted Cruz, and Jeb Bush endorsing him.

As recently as Feb. 25 — that’s less than a month, people — our senior senator was saying “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.” That’s how utterly unthinkable supporting Ted Cruz was.

That was in the same speech in which he said “My party’s gone bats— crazy,” since it was narrowing its presidential choices to Cruz and Donald Trump. There was plenty of evidence to support his assertion.

But it must be catching, because Sen. Graham is now supporting and raising funds for the unthinkable Cruz, apparently operating on the principle that Trump is even less thinkable.

Now we have this:

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush endorsed Ted Cruz for president on Wednesday, the latest sign that the Texas senator is eagerly seeking to unite Republican Party leaders behind his campaign in an attempt to stop Donald Trump.

Securing the Bush endorsement is a coup for Cruz, who may not be well-liked by many GOP colleagues in Washington, but can now boast the support of a key political family and its vast, unrivaled donor network….

 

And that follows on this even greater outrage, offering clear evidence that Mitt Romney may have gone the most “bats___” of all:

First Romney recorded robocalls for Marco Rubio, then he hit the campaign trail with John Kasich. Now just a week later, he’s urging voters in Utah and Arizonanot to vote for the Ohio governor in a Cruz campaign robocall. “This is a time for Republicans across the spectrum to unite behind Ted. He is the only Republican candidate who can defeat Donald Trump,” Romney says in the message, according to Politico. “And at this point, a vote for John Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump.”

Romney said last week that he intends to vote for Cruz in Utah’s caucuses on Tuesday, but his allies stressed that he wasn’t endorsing the Texas senator. On Facebook, Romney explained that he likes Kasich and would have voted for him in Ohio, “but a vote for Governor Kasich in future contests makes it extremely likely that Trumpism would prevail.” There was a time when saying you intend to vote for a particular candidate and urging others not to vote for anyone else would be called an endorsement, but that’s not how things work in 2016….

Gentlemen, it is clear that you have but one honorable choice at this point, given that Trump and Cruz are still what Graham accurately said they were back in January — a choice between “being shot or poisoned:” Get behind John Kasich with all your might. Work your networks to try to get friendly delegates to the convention, to support him on the ballots after Trump fails on the first.

So what if he’s coming in third in most states? That’s a whole lot better than you supposed exemplars of the party, Lindsey and Jeb, managed to do when you were running. Do you really, truly, not stand for anything?

Have some self-respect. Get behind an honorable candidate who doesn’t make you retch when you think of him being president. At the very least, strengthen his hand so that even if he can’t get nominated, there’s a rational person in better position to help determine who does.

Other sincere, mainstream Republicans — ones with less high profiles — have had no trouble doing this. What’s your problem?

Perhaps you should just come out and acknowledge that you are resigned to Hillary Clinton being elected. Because that seems the logical outcome of the courses you’re pursuing, supporting a candidate you cannot stand for the nomination.

This Beck person has it both right, and 100 percent wrong

Since I don’t watch all that cable “news” nonsense, the only “Beck” I’m familiar with is the one who sings the above song. So I include it, for what it’s worth.

I was really taken aback when I saw what this other Beck had to say:

After winning the Republican primary in his home state of Ohio Tuesday night, Republican presidential candidate John Kasich announced that he plans to stay the course. Glenn Beck had a few choice words for him.

“Kasich, I mean, excuse my language, but, you son of a bitch, the republic is at stake,” Beck said Wednesday on The Glenn Beck Radio Program. “This is not like a normal race. The republic is at stake.”

Continuing his criticism of Kasich, Beck, a top surrogate for Republican candidate Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, argued that the Ohio governor is “delusional” if he thinks he can win….

Well, uh, yeah… the republic is at stake, which is why it’s wonderful that Kasich won decisively in Ohio (a state Republicans have to win to win the White House), so that he can continue all the way to the convention.

Even if you’re, um, delusional enough to be for Cruz, you should be able to understand that, since Kasich pulls a different sort of voter from what Cruz does, there’s a greater chance of stopping Trump from getting 1,237 delegates before the convention if both Cruz and Kasich stay in.

And that has to happen before either Cruz or Kasich has a chance to emerge triumphant from a contested convention. With the states remaining, it’s unlikely that Cruz could get to 1,237 himself, so the convention is all he has to hope for.

Otherwise, he’s a loser, baby…

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There’s ONE rational grownup left in GOP contest: Kasich!

Yes! YES! You know it! (As Frank the Tank would say.):

This. Is. Awesome.

This is the best outcome we could have had.

Kasich comes out of Ohio as the one rational option left. No, he won’t go into the convention with enough delegates to win, not by a long shot. He’ll likely come in third.

But he’s got enough mo now to stay in the race all the way, maybe pick up another state here or there with Rubio out of it. And with both him and Cruz pulling from Trump, there’s a good chance Trump won’t have the magic 1,237 for that first ballot.

And then… we’re gonna see how we do things in a republic, baby!

I love it…

‘Everybody’ is not to blame. Just the Democrats and Republicans

There’s a column on The State‘s op-ed page today from an unfamiliar (as in, not a regular) writer: Dick Meyer, chief Washington correspondent for Scripps.

The headline is, “Who’s to blame for Trump’s rise? Everybody.

Dick Meyer

Dick Meyer

Well, that’s misleading. In fact, the column only blames Republicans and Democrats. And of course, they richly deserve it. The rest of us — the great plurality of us, according to a recent Gallup Poll — are let off the hook. (I sent Cindi a note this morning complaining about the hed, but then I saw that the hed probably came with the column — The Commercial Appeal, the Scripps paper where I started my career as a copy boy, ran the piece with the very same headline.)

That poll shows 43 percent of us identifying as independent, 30 percent as Democratic and 26 percent as Republican.

Of course, there are are a lot of folks — such as Republicans, Democrats, the conflict-obsessed media and all those interest groups that fund themselves by goading us all to hate each other — who go out of their way to debunk those numbers. (And indeed, for us in South Carolina especially, it’s hard to imagine that America is only 26 percent Republican.)

Indeed, when you Google “percentage of electorate that is independent,” the first three links you get are headlined something like “The myth of the independent voter.” Basically, those essays break down the group identifying as “independent” and show most as leaning one way or the other, in terms of voting habits. These doubters say as little as 5 percent of us are truly hardcore independent.

That is in turn misleading. Of course independents vote for Democrats and Republicans; most of the time they aren’t offered anything else — and when they are, those “independents” are even more blindly ideological than the Dems and Repubs (say, Libertarians).

And if they vote more often for members of one party or the other, that can often be no more than an accident of geography. For instance, I vote mostly Republican. Why? Because I live in Lexington County. If I want any say at all in local or state government, I have to vote in the Republican primary. In fact, I think I’ve only voted in one Democratic primary since I moved to my current residence in 1997 — and that was the presidential primary in 2004, when there was no Republican alternative. I cast that vote proudly for Joe Lieberman. I knew he was going to get creamed here, and I wanted him to have my vote at least.

You will seldom see, especially out of the partisan cauldron of Washington, anyone giving us independents any respect. When they’re not debunking us, they’re insulting us. They think we fail to pick a side between the two rabid, snarling packs because we are apathetic and don’t bother to be informed. They completely miss the fact that many of us are independent precisely because we do pay attention and do think, and therefore do not buy our opinions prepackaged off a shelf.

But Washington journalists — who like to keep the options down to two extremes, because that makes it easier to cover politics like sports — generally ignore us. Our existence is inconvenient to their simple paradigm. Thus, they refer to Republicans and Democrats as “everybody.”

All of that said, and passionately believed, I wonder if it isn’t in the end true that “everybody” is to blame, including us.

I mean, say we independents do make up 43 percent of the electorate. What have we done to stop these whack jobs in the two parties from making a complete hash of our country’s politics?

Must give us pause.

One way in which I’m like Trump supporters

The other day, Karen brought my attention to this piece by Tom Friedman, trying to explain Trump supporters.

I was struck by the opening:

Donald Trump is a walking political science course. His meteoric rise is lesson
No. 1 on leadership: Most voters do not listen through their ears. They listen
through their stomachs. If a leader can connect with them on a gut level, their
response is: “Don’t bother me with the details. I trust your instincts.” If a
leader can’t connect on a gut level, he or she can’t show them enough
particulars. They’ll just keep asking, “Can you show me the details one more
time?”

Trump’s Republican rivals keep thinking that if they just point out a few
more details about him, voters will drop The Donald and turn to one of them
instead. But you can’t talk voters out of something that they haven’t been
talked into…

Huh. So, in a way, I’m a lot like Trump supporters, according to Friedman.

Not in the “listen through their stomachs” bit. I’m more likely to use my head. But I’m definitely less about the details.

George_HW_Bush_saying_-Read_My_Lips-_(screenshot)Over the years, I’ve come to look for someone I trust to make good decisions, whatever comes up. I’m less about what specific proposals the candidate makes. What a candidate actually encounters in office often has little to do with the concerns expressed during the campaign. In fact, the fewer promises, the better — promises can back an officeholder into corners and commit him to courses that are unwise under the circumstances. See “Read my lips; no new taxes.” Bush made the right decision, but the unwise promise not to do so got him into trouble.

I care more about how a candidate’s mind works, along with experience and a good history of having made sound decisions while accumulating that experience.

Since I do that, I still can’t imagine how anyone arrives at thinking Trump is the guy to trust. But I’m with them on caring less about details of proposals…