Trump envisioned as the Baron Harkonnen

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

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

Losing is winning: A conservative embraces ironic contradiction

sweater

Quit your complaining and put on a sweater!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump-free Open Thread for Monday, May 9, 2016

SasndersNeverSurrenderAriailW

We’re stuck with you-know-who for months to come, so I hope you appreciate this special gift from me to you:

  1. North Carolina sues U.S. over ‘bathroom law’ — All right, I’m now convinced of it: North Carolina is engaged in a deep, dark plot to make us in South Carolina look like a buncha dang’ liberals. Oh, and The Wall Street Journal is actually leading its site at this hour with this story about the issue of who goes to what bathroom. Have we hit bottom yet?
  2. Sanders favored in West Virginia primary — Is this thing never going to end?
  3. Philippines Votes For President; ‘The Punisher’ Leads The Pack — Wow. It seems other electorates are going nuts as well. A generation ago, I remember the uplifting campaign of Cory Aquino. Now this…
  4. Panama Papers include dozens of Americans tied to financial fraud — This is about money and offshore accounts and… (yawn). For those of you immune to the soporific effect, this database is now searchable. If you find that I have a vast fortune hidden away somewhere abroad, please let me know, so that I can go to there.
  5. The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru — This is kind of a scary story, about the kid (still in school, albeit graduate school, when 9/11 happened) who is “according to the consensus of the two dozen current and former White House insiders I talked to, the single most influential voice shaping American foreign policy aside from Potus himself.” Not John Kerry, or Hillary Clinton or Robert Gates before him, but Ben Rhodes…

The Don, unlike The Donald, did not utter threats

The Don: Man of Reasonableness who never utters threats.

The Don: Man of Reasonableness who never utters threats.

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

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

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

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

threat 1

threat 2

threat 3

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

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

The Donald: Man of Bluster who does little else.

The Donald: Man of Bluster who does little else.

The guy Sarah Palin is endorsing over Paul Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I responded, rather excitedly:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And finally, Ben Howe, editor of RedState blog:

A Trump Rorschach test: What do you see here?

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

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

Do you see this as:

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

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

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

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

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

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

STAFF PORTRAITS OF KARL ROVE.

Rove in the early 2000s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He concludes:

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

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

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

Amen to that, E.J….

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

Open Thread for Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Unfortunately, Indiana also seems to want Donald Trump, which means we’re all in trouble. If you’d like to comment on that or anything else, type away:

  1. Indiana Votes, in What Could Be Knockout Blow in Races — If you have thoughts as the results come in, leave them here. Me, I’m fantasizing that Cruz gets fed up and quits after tonight, and Kasich starts getting the attention he deserves, and manages to win enough delegates in the remaining primaries to deny Trump a first-ballot win. Hey, it could happen. If Donald Trump can be on the verge of obtaining a once-great party’s nomination, anything can happen. Oh, you don’t believe in underdogs? I refer you to “Hoosiers.” See photo below.
  2. Democrats’ Brand Is Bad, But Republicans’ Is Way Worse — I sense it approaching… the UnParty Moment!
  3. US accuses Russia of nuclear sabre-rattling, amid NATO tensions — While we make a mockery of the process of choosing our commander in chief, there’s some serious s__t going on in the world…
  4. American killed as U.S. troops get closer to Islamic State battle in Iraq — As this administration continues its excruciatingly gradual escalation, at what point do we drop the “adviser” shtick, and go after ISIL?
  5. Father-daughter dance canceled following complaints at elementary school — The complaint apparently was that a lot of kids are left out by a father-daughter dance. After having worked with the SC Center for Fathers and Families for several years, I’ve been acutely aware of the severe problem of father absence in far too many families. This dramatizes it.
"OK, boys -- we're gonna run the picket fence at 'em!"

“OK, boys — we’re gonna run the picket fence at ’em!”

 

ICYMI: C.J. Cregg returns to the briefing room

All of y’all probably saw this already, but I would have missed it if Kathryn Fenner had not brought it to my attention via Facebook over the weekend.

Of course, Facebook being Facebook, I had to go hunting elsewhere to find an embed code. (I couldn’t even find it at the White House, which is where Kathryn had gotten it — apparently, they only posted it on FB — unless I’m just looking in all the wrong places on the website.)

It was great to see her back in the saddle. And seeing her as press secretary instead of chief of staff takes us to those wonderful days when Leo was still alive. Sigh…

I was a bit disappointed in her when she ducked the one question she got from the actual reporters assembled: “Who is President Bartlet supporting in the Democratic primary?”

But she ducked it with typical C.J. aplomb…

CJ Cregg

Allison Janney fields an actual question from an actual reporter in the actual West Wing.

Charleston Post & Courier buys Free Times

freetimes

I heard the rumor a couple of weeks ago and started poking around, and just now got confirmation from the most reliable of sources:

Brad,

Yes, we just closed on the Free Times in Columbia!  We are putting out a press release as I am sending this.  We are super excited about the acquisition and look forward to growing in the Columbia market!

Thanks,

P.J. Browning

Publisher

The Post and Courier

This is good news, following on the most terrible of news. In the wake of Charlie Nutt’s shocking death, I had worried about what would become of the alternative weekly and my friends who work there.

It’s good to know that an outfit as steady and successful as the P&C will now be publishing the paper.

Open Thread for Monday, May 2, 2016

May_Day_Parade_1957_Moscow (1)

So, did you have a good May Day, comrades? Well, if not, don’t come crying to me. Nichevo. It can’t be helped:

  1. Terrible, awful, horrible news out of Indiana — Did you see the poll results showing Trump with a double-digit lead? Yep. It’s just getting harder and harder for the Republicans to avoid nominating this bizarre character. Which leads to such cringe-inducing stories as this one: What would Trump be like as the Republican nominee? Meanwhile, the candidate’s latest gem: “Trump accuses China of ‘raping’ US with unfair trade policy
  2. Should your workplace have a nap room? — Absolutely. One of the few nice things about our steadily decreasing staff those last few years I was at the paper was that we had an empty office in which we kept a couch. Sometimes, along about 4 in the afternoon when I needed to concentrate on proofs, I’d get this debilitating sinus headache. So I’d go into that room, set my phone to wake me in 12 or 15 minutes, and drop off immediately. I’d wake up feeling great and ready to work hours more — which is great, because I had to do just that. I highly recommend it if you can swing it.
  3. CIA ‘Live Tweets’ Bin Laden Raid On 5th Anniversary — Fortunately, the raid itself was well thought-out. This Twitter stunt, I’m thinking, not so much. Look, we killed the guy; it was a thing that needed doing. Let’s not invite the country to celebrate each moment of the experience, OK?

Or maybe you’ve run across something more interesting, which wouldn’t be all that hard. If so, please share…

Open Thread for Friday, April 29, 2016

But I'm a creep; I'm a weirdo. What the hell am I doing reading about the BUSINESS side of music?

But I’m a creep; I’m a weirdo. What the hell am I doing reading about the BUSINESS side of music?

A few things that might spark conversation (if only this weren’t a Friday):

  1. Nikki Haley says she’ll help Obama find the money to keep Guantanamo open — Just call her NIMBY Haley from now on. This cockiness about helping POTUS find money comes from the woman who thinks we should finance roads by either a) cutting another tax by a larger amount than that needed for roads or b) taking it from other programs even though roads have their own dedicated funding source, one that hasn’t been raised for 29 years.
  2. GOP elites are now resigned to Trump as their nominee — This is very, very, extremely, awful, horrible news, if you are an American, or the resident of any other country affected by U.S. policy, which is to say, if you are an earthling.
  3. Cruz’s latest fights with fellow Republicans are a reminder: Many simply don’t like him — And see, this is why we’re in the horrible situation described in the previous item: Two things characterize Cruz: Tout le monde sees him as the only guy to stop Trump, and he is a guy who causes normal Republicans to say such things as what the former speaker of the House said — that he “never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” If only there were a sane option out there that leading Republicans didn’t hate… someone like… I don’t know… KASICH?
  4. Radiohead’s corporate empire: inside the band’s dollars and cents — Disregard! I was hoping this would be about Radiohead’s upcoming new album or something, but it turns out the headline was accurate: It really was about business and money. Bleh. I’d just as soon watch “Vinyl” as read about that…
  5. Pentagon Disciplines 16 for Errors Tied to Afghan Hospital Bombing — This is the one back in October, not the latest one. The latest one wasn’t us.

When you’re spending this much on PR, how do you keep getting such a black eye?

NewLogo824x180

Check this out:

Richland County Council will have a special work session Friday afternoon to discuss Wednesday’s revelation from the Department of Revenue that the county’s transportation penny sales tax revenue would be cut off until the county brings the penny program into “compliance with state tax laws.”

Council will meet at 3 p.m. Friday in Council Chambers at 2020 Hampton St., Columbia, only to discuss the Department of Revenue penny tax issue. The discussion could move behind closed doors, as council has done regularly for updates and discussions on the matter during regular council meetings….

Executive session. Yeah, because, you know, what this situation needs is less transparency…

What kinds of things has the county been spending penny tax money on other than roads and buses?

You’ll never guess. Really. Not in a million years (unless you already know, which is cheating)…

Public Relations. That’s what it went for.

Yeah.

The Nerve reported this yesterday:

Analyzing months of reports from the Small and Local Business Enterprise Office – an office that the Department of Revenue (DOR) contends was improperly funded from penny tax revenue and which the county has agreed to repay in full through its general fund – the county paid:

  • $169,687 to Strategic Business & Politics LLC, a single-employee business owned, S.C. Secretary of State records show, by Duane Cooper, the executive director of the South Carolina House Democratic Caucus. The business address is listed as 701 Gervais St., Suite 150-208, which is a mailbox at the UPS Store.
  • $178,809 to Mizzell & Associates, a public relations/marketing firm held by former Richland County Councilman Tony Mizzell. Mizzell, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for Columbia City Council in 2010.
  • $674,440 to P.J. Noble and Associates, Pat Noble’s Columbia-based marketing company that in 2010 was the subject of news reports questioning a $65,000 public relations contract with the City of Columbia over North Main Street improvements. Noble worked in the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety under former Gov. Richard “Dick” Riley.
  • $486,201 to J.B. Ladner & Associates, a one-person firm owned by Clarence Hill, an independent planning professional and former S.C. State professor, for outreach work.

The $1.5 million in public relations/outreach payments is over and above the $3 million awarded to two private firms – BANCO Bannister and Campbell Consulting – for penny tax public relations work. Owners Heyward Bannister and Darrell Campbell are well-known Democratic consultants, with Bannister having run the political campaigns for the penny tax both in 2010, when it was defeated, and again in 2012….

So I have to ask — if county has spent $4.5 million on public relations, how come it keeps getting nothing but black eyes over the penny tax?

You can do a heap of image-building on $4.5 million. But here’s the thing: Where is all that image-building? There’s a website… and… well, I don’t know what else. (There was a public info meeting about the tax yesterday and I’m kicking myself because I missed it. If anyone attended, and got a good answer to that question, please share.)

Whatever it went for, it’s not working…

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….

WSJ: ‘Politics Is Not a Crime’

I’m sharing this for the headline as much as anything else.

When I saw that former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was arguing before the Supreme Court that he “had engaged in nothing more than politics as usual,” I thought, how sleazy can you get?

But then I saw the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal make the same argument, and this time I paid attention:

Bob McDonnell

Bob McDonnell

A jury convicted Mr. McDonnell in 2014 for taking more than $170,000 in gifts from a Richmond businessman who was also a family friend. The gifts included a $50,000 loan, $15,000 to finance their daughter’s wedding, fancy dresses, a Rolex watch and vacations. Let us stipulate that this is reckless and sleazy, and that the businessman hoped the Governor would take actions to promote his diet-supplement business.

The legal problem is that Mr. McDonnell never provided much of any quo for the quid. Virginia law lets politicians accept gifts, and prosecutors never charged him with violating state law. They charged him under federal law with performing “official acts” to benefit the business, but none of those acts influenced policy or changed a government decision.

Mr. McDonnell was convicted for attending a lunch at the executive mansion where the businessman’s company gave out grants to universities, for attending a reception with the businessman, for asking an aide about research pertaining to the company, and for arranging a meeting with his staff and the man.

This stretches the bribery statutes to criminalize the normal transactions of politics…

So basically, yeah, taking all those gifts was sleazy, but the man did not commit a crime. And they make a good case for that position.

For the WSJ, this fits with their overall limited-government guiding principle; they see the federal prosecutors as overstepping. It also afforded them the excuse to include this subhed: “If Bob McDonnell is guilty of corruption, then so is Hillary Clinton.”

But the larger point is also worth making. Just because we find something about politics distasteful doesn’t mean it’s a crime.

Often, it isn’t even sleazy — in this case, taking the gifts stank to high heaven, but what McDonnell did for the giver was in no way corrupt. As the Journal notes:

Public officials routinely act as boosters for local businesses. They also frequently meet donors and introduce them to others. Citizens also have the First Amendment right to petition their elected officials. If arranging a meeting for a benefactor qualifies as corruption, prosecutors will be able to target any politician in the country.

And that would be wrong.

‘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…