Category Archives: Parties

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?

On the binary paradigm in U.S. politics, with a digression on ‘false equivalence’

Here’s another case in which I got carried away with a comment response, and decided to turn it into a separate post.

This morning, Phillip observed:

Also, important to remember that parties have been born, fragmented, and died during the course of American history. The fact that we’ve had “Democratic” and “Republican” parties as the two main parties (even as each one’s identity has changed radically over time in many ways) since 1856 has made us forget that a little bit. Perhaps we are seeing the real fragmentation of the Republican party, an upheaval in the two-party system unknown for a century and a half.

Some of this may be attributed to the unusual nature of Trump as a candidate himself, but the wave he sits astride will not vanish with his probable defeat this November. The GOP will not go all kumbaya after this election, whether Trump loses narrowly or loses by a “yuge” margin.

It was a trenchant, relevant comment of the sort we expect from Phillip, and it got me going along these lines…

We’ve had these two parties for so long not because of anything special about these two particular parties and their respective, shifting platforms.

It’s about having two parties, period.

It’s about the binary paradigm. It’s about the fact that we decided some time ago that we had to have a dichotomy. Left and right. Winner and loser. Up and down. Black and white. American League (boo!) and National League. You get two choices, and that’s it. There are only two teams on a football field — there are no players out there wearing a third uniform, or no uniform at all — so why should politics be any different? Isn’t football the perfect analogy for life? (I may never fully extricate my tongue from my cheek after typing that.)

We’ve decided there have to be two parties. It doesn’t much matter how those two parties define themselves, or what they are called. We’re used to Democrat and Republican, so we stick with that. It’s convenient. We don’t care enough about the particulars of parties to try to start new ones, and besides, starting new parties means you might temporarily have three or four before they are winnowed back to two, and that’s contrary to the whole idea of the game.

Worse — and this is particularly maddening to someone who engages in ideas in the public sphere and despises both options — if you reject one option, tout le monde automatically places you in the opposite category. Because you’re not allowed other options.yinyang

And to digress – yes, my horror of being accused of adhering to Option B when I criticize Option A leads me often to make a point of noting that the same problem, or a problem of equal magnitude, exists with Option B. Hence the “false equivalence” that drives some of you to distraction. Except that it’s not false. I really mean it. It’s just that bringing up the fact may seem forced or out of place to you, no matter how elegantly I try to put it. You Option B folks wish I’d just point out the oh-so-obvious faults of Option A without gratuitously picking on your team. Sorry, but I’ve been conditioned to making a particular point of placing myself outside both camps to avoid confusion.

To digress from the digression: Interestingly, Option B in this analogy is pretty much always the Democrats. Y’all notice that? It’s usually, if not always, my more liberal interlocutors who complain of the “false equivalence.” A search for that phrase yields comments by Bud, Kathryn, PhillipSCL and Tim. Not a conservative in the bunch. OK, not all of those accusations of “false equivalence” are aimed at me, but usually they are. SCL provides a particularly good example:

Honestly, you are the king of false equivalence. Have you EVER written a piece, going back to your editor days, that you didn’t try to fit into that “both sides are at fault” template? I’m not a member of either party, but you’re wrong to say the blame for this one lies anywhere other than 100% with the SCGOP….

I wonder why that is — that it’s usually, if not always, liberals/Democrats. I have a couple of theories. The first is that, as holier-than-thou as the Republicans can be, it’s Democrats who are more fully convinced of their own virtue, and of the other sides’ failings. So they are outraged by observations that challenge that. Does that strike you as true? Perhaps not. Here’s my second theory: That Democrats/liberals agree with Republicans/conservatives in seeing the media as liberal, and it particularly irks Democrats when they see a media type going out of his way to lay Democrats’ sins alongside those of Republicans. They feel that he’s letting down the side, breaking an unspoken pact. No? Well, offer your own theory.

Or maybe it’s just that I seem to make more of a point of it when I’m describing Republicans’ failings and feel the need to stick in the Democrats’, as opposed to vice versa — being particularly sensitive to that “y’all are all liberals” meme. And therefore, the Democrats are more likely to notice it…

It was at this point that I decided to turn this into a separate post. Your thoughts?

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…

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…

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:

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….

And then there were none: Reports say Kasich quitting

eaf8bb796e99a2cfded0906f4f11f04c

Any devoted Dune fans out there? Remember when Paul and Lady Jessica have escaped Harkonnen clutches after being betrayed, and they’re hiding in the desert listening to radio chatter, and on every band, the message is the same: Atreides reports of defeat, Harkonnen messages of triumph? Complete disaster, no hope.

That’s what I’m seeing now on Twitter:

No hope anywhere, for the party or far more importantly, the nation.

It must have been much like this when the Germans marched into Paris…

Sorry about mixing metaphors there…

Weeping_Parisian

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.” His gameplan has always been to make it to a contested convention. He’ll keep playing with only four guys on the court, like Coach Norman Dale, and everyone will call him mad.

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…