Category Archives: GOP

Running for President for Fun and Profit

There is an excerpt from Michael Wolff’s upcoming book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House where Wolff reports that Trump did not want to be president and that he and his people fully expected to lose. The gist of the story is that Trump and others ran the campaign as a method of creating branding, expanding media connections, and in general as a moneymaking operation. (Wolff also reports that Trump went through a number of stages of shock and fear before becoming certain that he was going to be a great president. He lacks nothing in grandiose self-image that is not backed up by anything resembling talent, intelligence, or taste.)

Now some have taken issue with Wolff’s report and poked holes where the details do not align with history so we’ll have to wait a bit longer for that judgment. However I find it entirely credible that Trump at least started the campaign as a moneymaking and image enhancing

The Republican Party has allowed charlatans and grifters access to the presidential nominating process, business people, second tier politicians turned TV personalities, and flash in the pan conservative celebrities flooded the fields, turning the solemn and serious affair of selecting the person to lead the most powerful nation on earth into a cash grab and celebrity stepping stone platform.

It’s really should not have been a surprise that eventually this charade, coupled with a base that had been purified to that rejected facts for ideology, would eventually shove aside any serious politician for the flashier, louder, and most grandiose snake-oil pusher.

This is the doom that the GOP has visited upon America and on the world. This is the end result of their cynicism, their abandonment of principal, and the surrendering of all their honor.

There are a lot of things in traditional conservative thought that are worth considering, worth valuing, worth upholding, but covered in gold plated, celebrity apprentice crap, it all becomes crap.

The nation needs a new conservative party.

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Franken Resigns and the Democratic Party Strengthens

So after eight women came forward and leveled accusation of misconduct at Minnesota Senator Al Franken the Senator announced his resignation from his position. Now Franken tended to provoke strong reactions, I know people who adored him as a senator and dreamt of presidential plays and I also know people for whom it seemed impossible to mention his name without a personal insult travelling along side I had no such passions about the man. His comedy was so-so and his political positions were fairly solidly liberal and predictable.

All that said the party forcing his resignation was in my opinion the best move that they could have made. Did the Democratic Party lose a high profile member with name-recognition? Yes. Did they lose a member whom could be counted upon as a consistent liberal vote? Yes. Will the Republicans be shamed into taking action against their members accused of sexual misdeeds? No. So how is this good for the Democratic Party?

It is the long game and there are two advantages in what has happened.

First, you cannot claim to be a party of values, standards, and principles unless you live up to them. Sweeping Franken’s accusations under the rug would be a bold loud proclamation that political victory matters more than any principle. That these women’s trauma matters less than getting a vote on policy. That is damaging. It corrodes the Party’s brand and helps erase any distinction between them and their opposition. For liberals it may hurt to lose one of their favorite stars but you can only hold the moral high ground by consistently being moral.

This is a lesson the Republican Party failed to learn. Over and over again when faced with this sort of thing they chose the path of political expediency and destroyed their claim to any moral standing.

Second, it builds a bulwark against sliding into chaos and angry politics. If the party turned a blind eye to Franken then when another crisis of principle arises it becomes that much easier to turn that blind eye again. When called out on it the only course to defend against such blatant hypocrisy is stoking anger and hatred in the Party’s base for all those who are not lock step with the Party. Personal destruction of all enemies, within and outside of the Party, becomes the norm and acceptable discourse plummets to the gutter. Soon only the loudest, angriest, voices carry any weight.

Does this sound like a familiar history? It should. No organization sets out to corrode what they fight for, and yet so many do. It happens because when faced with expediency over principle they take the easier path and like getting turned by an enemy intelligence asset, each step makes it that much harder to regain your proper course.

As I said I have no strong feelings for Franken, but my analysis is that the Democratic Party did the right thing and they should continue doing the right thing. And if you still think that his votes, his policy matters more than the things he is accused of then you are making the precisely same argument as those who intend to vote for Roy Moore. Choose politics over morals and eventually you will be reduced to no morals.

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Cultural Criticality

The sudden and widespread exposure of sexual misconduct across widely disparate fields feels like a cultural tipping point has been passed. This seemed to start with the Harvey Weinstein expose and then like a row of tumbling dominions it spread, but that dominion simile is not quite correct. No, this is more like a nuclear chain reaction. To my mind that picture is also a much better analogy for grasping what is going on and what could happen in other areas of the social sphere.

Imagine you have a large number of 1-gram blocks of Plutonium. In this thought experiment you take the blocks and assemble them into a cube. One by one you pick up a cube and add it to the others, and wow nothing is happening. They just sit there. You can do this thousands of times and nothing will happen, but somewhere around 11,000 times you will add one cube and the mass with become critical. At that point you are dead. The chain reaction takes off and the cubes that had presented no serious danger before are now all presenting a lethal threat. The last block you added? There was nothing special about that one. It was exactly the same but adding it to the pile did not provoke the same non-reaction.

Why the Weinstein expose and not the Cosby one? We can never know, here the analogy is not a perfect fir, but it still serves. It feels like we have hit a critical reaction and going back to the way it was before is looking less and less likely. (Not a bad thing in my opinion.)

I think we are still facing a similar situation with mass shootings. Newtown and a cowardly murderer targeting children did not change things, but we were and are still below criticality. It is not the individual event and its character that will matter but with some future some ineffable sense will change and sudden it won’t be the same game anymore. If there happens to be a Democratic controlled Senate at that time it would not surprise me to hear that they are suspending the filibuster for legislation in order to pass something. (And if they do pass something Trump would sign it. It costs him nothing and he can bask in the warm glow of praise. All that matters to him, that and money.)

This is the danger that I see pro-second amendment factions are ignoring. By taking no actions, by offering nothing at all, and there are things that they could offer that are not gun control and bans, they are removing none of the block from this growing pile.

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Do You Want Humanity on Mars?

Then you had better hope that the tax bill is never passed. The changes to the tax code in respect to high education will devastate the postgraduate population. You cannot get humanity off this damned planet without Ph.Ds.

Do you want research into aging?

Well you better kill this tax bill because we are never going to conquer that condition without advanced medical skill and if you dry up the pool of graduate students you will be cutting you own throat.

That’s just one aspect of a terrible terrible bill flying through congress. It permanently lowers taxes on corporations and the ultra-wealthy, while temporarily reduces them on the middle class as a budgeting gimmick, leaving the middle class to face tax increases to fund the afore mentioned cuts.

Cuts that aren’t even required.

Corporate profits right now are at an all time high. Employment is near full employment. There is no shortage of cash for any of the massive corporations that are preventing them from expanding and razing wages.

Hell, even those commie socialist liberals at Forbes magazine are attacking this plan as a bad one for the US Economy.

If it is so clearly a bad bill why on earth are the elected Republicans hell bent on getting it done. Trump is more easily understandable by some estimate this will save his personal family; nearly a billion dollars but the GOP Representative and Senators passing this will not gain such a reward.

However rewards and incentives are key to understanding this. In American politics there are two major sources of power, a motivated voter base and large donors. If you have both firing on all cylinders you’re in a great spot. If you have one or the other you can work what resources you have and save your job, sometimes.

Populism has stolen the GOP base away from the main elected members. The movement that carried Trump to an electoral victory ignored him in Alabama for the more fiery populist candidate Roy Moore. Steven Bannon is leading digital crowds of pitchfork wielding peasant in assaults on the ‘establishment’ fortress. They have lost control of an energized base that leaves the large donors as their resource to fight off both liberal and the revolting peasants. They simply cannot afford to alienate these mega-donors and the donors want this tax cut. One GOP congress is quoted as reporting that his donors are telling him get this done or never call them again.

We are in serious trouble.

 

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A Difference in Magnitude not Kind

It has been interesting watching the political debate surrounding Moore and Franken. On both sides there are people calling for resignations and on both sides there are people calling for pragmatism.

Moore may be a child molester and a hypocrite but he’ll vote for the right policies and his opponent will not

Franken may be a molester of adults and a hypocrite but he’s a good progressive, standing on the right side of almost every issue his replacement may not.

Do you see that these really are the same argument?

I am certain that I know the number of ‘free’ assaults Democrats would allow a conservative is zero, and I am equally certain that number of ‘free’ child molestations the Republican’s would allow a liberal is an equally low zero.

The Tea Party has taken ‘compromise’ to be a dirty word and for the most part politics is compromise but there are things upon which you should not bend and basic morality is one of them.

I walked away from the Republican Part when is embraced torture as a ‘pragmatic’ solution because party unity mattered more than right and wrong. As such I have no qualms about voicing my opinion that Moore is a terrible person and should be gone.

Franken’s assault, though not against children, are also terrible.

If you do not hold people to standards then they and you will never meet those standards. Be wary of pragmatism over morality for in the end you may be left with neither.

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Franken

Let me make this real quick as I have a novel that is not going to write itself. (And believe me I have tried that method.)

If there are creditable accusations, and I have not taken the time to make that judgment, then he should step down and Minnesota should hold a special election to replace him.

See, that was easy.

To conservatives who want to hide behind Clinton and Franken hoping to retain control of the Senate with that nut-job Moore.

Franken and Clinton aren’t your shields.

Moore is a direct result of the party you have built over the last few decades. When angering and trolling liberals is more important than policy or ideas then you get men like Moore and he will not be the last.

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The Lesser of two Evils is Still Evil

It would appear that for some Republicans and Conservatives the Senatorial effort of Roy Moore is a conundrum. Credible accusations have been laid out that he is a sexual predator. Those accusations have not been proven in a court of law and under that standard he remains innocent until proven guilty, but election a person to any public office, high or low, is more than just political philosophy, it is an endorsement of character. Character judgment does not require the high burden of proof of a criminal trail and we can still look upon the flawed character and ask ourselves ‘is this the sort of person who should have power over the lives of others?’

I have seen it argued in the pages of conservative publications that this should be a line in the sand, that to endorse this man would be a compromise too far.

Really?

The GOP has already embraced torture. It is headed by a man that many consider to be a cheat, a liar, a narcissist, and a sexual predator, but now you are trying to argue that the line you cannot cross has suddenly appeared?

Buddy, that line came and went years ago. I know I was a member of the GOP and I walked away because I will not compromise right/wrong for fell fickle politics.

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The Weekend’s Rampage

I will not call it a tragedy for that removes the sense of an actor with agency that performed this senseless murdering. I also will not go deep into the gun control debate, on that front both sides present few minds left to persuade. There is one prediction I will make, but without a time line, and that is unless things change the forces of gun control will eventually have their way. To me the logic is simple and inevitable, people, mainly men, will keep doing this, people will keep dying, and only one party in our two party system will keep advancing a solution. Eventually that solution, regardless of its efficacy, will be implemented. The conservative offers nothing to prevent such murders except platitudes and resistance to change, that is a holding action and given a limitless number of incidents it is a holding action that must fail. Lots of people will be murdered and I doubt that the GOP will ever break out of their siege tactics.

One thing I do want to address is the charge that is being thrown about that the NRA has bought the GOP politicians and that ‘follow the money’ explains their lack of action. This gets the cause and effect back to front. The NRA gives these politicians money because they already support the sort of things the NRA wants.

To put it in counter example; how much money would it take to get Diane Feinstein to vote the NRA way? Or how much to get Elizabeth Warren to push legislation in favor of big business and banks? You can’t buy those votes; it would destroy the politicians’ credibility with their constituents and their conscience.

The charge that the politicians are bought on a subject so emotional and so important to their voters is really just a charge that the politicians are bad people and your politicians are noble following principals over lucre. By the way that works perfectly in reverse as well, the conservative change that the Democratic Party is own by the trail lawyers is a way to avoiding the idea that the Liberals might be in favor of civil actions as a manner equalizing the power between individuals and corporations. The Democrats are ‘bought’ by the trial lawyer and the Republicans aren’t ‘bought’ by the NRA, both are political actors serving the interests, however much you may not agree with those interests, of their constituents.

The de-legitimization of the opposition is virus killing our democracy.

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A New Nickname is Required

Since 1888 the Republican Party has carried the nickname ‘Grand Old Party’ often reduced down to simply GOP. I think that this affirming nickname no longer adequately describes the party as it lives and breathes today.

This week we witnessed the election of Judge Roy Moore as the GOP candidate for Senator from the state of Alabama. Moore explicitly stands for Christianism over all; he believes that in application of governance his interpretation of Christian faith supersedes constitutional law. This is not a matter of my opinion; twice he has defied federal court orders that that he felt violated ‘God’s law.’ And he has been removed from the bench for those actions and yet the majority of Republicans in Alabama have chosen him as the standard for their party. There were plenty of conservative Republicans to choose from and they were passed over for this theocrat.

Is it clear that there is nothing ‘Grand’ left in this old party but luckily we can still retain the initials GOP, as it is clear that the new nickname needs to be ‘God’s Own Party.

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Wow, This has all Sorts of Stupid

I have been seeing links to this (Your Refusal to Date Conservatives is One Reason we have Donald Trump.) piece bouncing around the internet for a few the last week but today was my first chance to read it first hand. Truly this is awful stuff.

Apparently what set the writer off was a dating site that is allowing people to self-identify as support Planned Parenthood. The impression I get is that Laber seems to feel that supporters of Planner Parenthood are rigid and unyielding. (And of course we know that the Right is so compromising when it comes to Planned Parenthood.)

Then he dives from Planned Parenthood and assertive dating into tribalism and the fact that we are boiling our electorate down into extreme bases. That’s true, but it is hardly the ‘plague on both house’ both sides are guilty sort of affair.

Of course he tries to support his position with a spot of evidence.

First up: Pew pole from 2014 Republicans holding ‘very unfavorable views’ of Democrats 43%, Democrats holding the same for Republicans 38%. Seems clear to me who is more extreme, particularly since that started out 20 years earlier only 1 point apart on that same issue. (Note how in the article itself he uses numerals for one and words for the other, hiding the sausage with a bit of typographic trickery.)

So then he transitions into how this drives primaries and election more extreme candidates. Hey, that is also true and look he pops up with more evidence.

Second up: 2010 Delaware Republican Primary, Tea party Purists Christine ‘I’m not a witch’ O’Donnell wins the primary and costs the GOP a seat. Looks to me that once again his evidence does nothing to show ‘both sides’ or that hot women rebuffing Conservative Men are at fault but rather the hard, ‘compromise is a dirty word’ Republican base is the more extreme faction. (It’s also interesting how his evidence keeps going back further and further into the past yet continues to show the Conservatives as the hard liners refusing the bend. Seems to me there’s a clue there about where this started.)

His third point, that Trump’s appeal was to ‘economically anxious’ voters and that they were really ‘culturally anxious’ he presents without supporting evidence. Frankly that fight is still being fought but you can hardly ignore the fact that from the very first moments of his campaign, Trump ran on racial issues. Laber thinks that Trump would not have done as well had we been less polarized.

Yeah, that I think is true, but it also ignores the years and years of lies, distortions, and hyperbole coming from the Right on this issue. Death Panels, Born in Kenya, Secret Muslim, this poison in our politics is deadly and it did not come equally from both sides and it has nothing to do with women preferring to date men who aren’t enemies of their constitutional rights.

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