Three ways in the House

Reading the Huffington Post, I saw this political bodice ripper and I still can’t figure out how to make the mechanics of the piece actually work in our shared reality:

Suddenly they realize, “holy shit, what if we could stop Donald Trump and keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House?”

So they run a moderate establishment Republican as a third-party candidate — 100 percent as a spoiler candidate. Worst case scenario oh, they prevent Donald Trump from winning the White House. Best case scenario they pull enough votes away from Hillary Clinton to prevent her from securing the necessary majority of 270 electoral votes.

Then the election goes to a House of Representatives ballot presided over Speaker Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s former running mate in 2012.

If neither candidate gets 270 electoral college votes, Congress picks the president. And he will be called President Mitt, the one who is laying the groundwork for this doomsday electoral scenario.

The basic theory is that a third party candidate who is Generic Republican Establishment (no not Pawlenty) would be able to do three things at the same time:

  • Insure that Trump does not get 270 electoral votes
  • win at least one electoral vote
  • Insure that Hillary Clinton does not get 270 electoral votes

In an alternative universe, that could work, but in this universe, I am having a hard time seeing how to actually make it work with a generic Republican running as a non-Trump alternative.

I think the first part is achievable.  However, the third party Republican spoiler is not needed.  Continual video playback of Trump’s speeches to non-Trump fans will isnure that.  If the Republican establishment decided it needed at least one electoral vote, it’s sock pocket could probably win Utah or a Congressional district in Nebraska.  Worse comes to worse, an elector could be a faithless elector.  I’ll concede the mechanics on this one.

The problem with this pre-emptive pants shitting is the third part.

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Monday Morning Open Thread: The GOP’s Nekkid ‘Establishment’ Emperors

trump tramples liberty toles

(Tom Toles via

Nothing particularly new, but Frank Rich has a lovely Monday morning pick-me-up in NYMag“Can we please retire the notion that Donald Trump is hijacking someone else’s party?”:

… The Republican Elites. The Establishment. The Party Elders. The Donor Class. The Mainstream. The Moderates. Whatever you choose to call them, they, at least, could be counted on to toss the party-­crashing bully out.

To say it didn’t turn out that way would be one of the great understatements of American political history. Even now, many Republican elites, hedging their bets and putting any principles in escrow, have yet to meaningfully condemn Trump. McCain says he would support him if he gets his party’s nomination. The Establishment campaign guru who figured the Trump problem would solve itself moved on to anti-Trump advocacy and is now seeking to unify the party behind Trump, waving the same white flag of surrender as Chris Christie. Every major party leader — Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Reince Priebus, Kevin McCarthy — has followed McCain’s example and vowed to line up behind whoever leads the ticket, Trump included. Even after the recurrent violence at Trump rallies boiled over into chaos in Chicago, none of his surviving presidential rivals would disown their own pledges to support him in November. Trump is not Hitler, but those who think he is, from Glenn Beck to Louis C.K., should note that his Vichy regime is already in place in Washington, D.C.

Since last summer, Trump, sometimes in unwitting tandem with Bernie Sanders, has embarrassed almost the entire American political ecosystem — pollsters, pundits, veteran political operatives and the talking heads who parrot their wisdom, focus-group entrepreneurs, super-pac strategists, number-crunching poll analysts at FiveThirtyEight and its imitators. But of all the emperors whom Trump has revealed to have few or no clothes, none have been more conspicuous or consequential than the GOP elites. He has smashed the illusion, one I harbored as much as anyone, that there’s still some center-right GOP Establishment that could restore old-school Republican order if the crazies took over the asylum…

Did the pillars of the Establishment fail to turn back the Trump insurgency because they have no balls? Because they have no credibility? Because they have too little support from voters in their own party? Because they don’t even know who those voters are or how to speak their language? To some degree, all these explanations are true. Though the Republican Establishment is routinely referenced as a potential firewall in almost every media consideration of Trump’s unexpected rise, it increasingly looks like a myth, a rhetorical device, or, at best, a Potemkin village. It has little power to do anything beyond tardily raising stop-Trump money that it spends neither wisely nor well and generating an endless torrent of anti-Trump sermons for publications that most Trump voters don’t read. The Establishment’s prize creation, Marco Rubio — a bot candidate programmed with patriotic Reaganisms, unreconstructed Bush-Cheney foreign-policy truculence, a slick television vibe, and a dash of ethnicity — was the biggest product flop to be marketed by America’s Fortune 500 stratum since New Coke…

For all the Republican talk about “personal responsibility,” the party’s leaders have worked overtime to escape any responsibility for fanning the swamp fevers that produced Trump: They instead blame him on the same bogeymen they blame everything on — Obama and the news media. What GOP elites can’t escape is the sinking feeling that a majority of Republican voters are looking for a president who will repudiate them and, implicitly, their class. Trump refuses to kowtow to the Establishment—and it is precisely that defiance, as articulated in his ridicule of Romney and Jeb Bush and Megyn Kelly and Little Marco, that endears him to Republican voters and some Democrats as well. The so-called battle for the “soul” of the Republican Party is a battle over power, not ideology. Trump has convinced millions of Americans that he will take away the power from the pinheads on high and return it to people below who feel (not wrongly) that they’ve gotten a raw deal. It’s the classic populist pitch, and it will not end well for those who invest their faith in Trump. He cares about no one but himself and would reward his own class with extravagant tax cuts like any Republican president. But the elites, who represent the problem, have lost any standing that might allow them to pretend to be part of the solution…

Apart from the schadenfreude of enjoying a good rant over breakfast, what’s on the agenda as we start another week?

Late Night Open Thread: Utah in Play… Maybe

Sometimes progressives assume — not without reason — that calling oneself a “religious voter” really means “I’m a narrow-minded bigot looking for an excuse to feel all superior about my racism and misogyny.” But there are people who won’t vote for Donald Trump because his loudly professed xenophobia is contrary to the teachings of their religion, and some of them are Christians.

On the other hand, since I’m not well-versed in Mormon theology, I’m not sure how Ted Cruz’s oleaginous Domininism measures up, or fails to, for Latter-Day Saints less bipolar than Glenn Beck…

Open Thread: Media v Corey Lewandowski

My lace-curtain-Irish grandmother, faced with an uncooperative store clerk or a dilatory office assistant, would announce “Like man, like master!” in her most carrying tones. Certain members of the media (too much of which gave Trump a free pass as long as it was only protestors being roughed up) seem to be turning on the Donald’s campaign manager, now that he’s literally manhandled a female Breitbart reporter…

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Sunday Evening Open Thread: Please Proceed, Senators

mcconnell defaces scotus handelsman

(Walt Handelsman via

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) suggested Thursday he would be willing to meet with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, though it won’t change his position.
“I have no problem with meeting with people,” he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I’ll have to say, I’m not sure what the point will be.”

Johnson, considered one of the most vulnerable senators up for reelection, is the latest Republican to split with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and say he would accept a meeting if the White House reaches out…

Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Rob Portman (Ohio) — who are in reelection fights that, along with Johnson’s, will help decide which party controls the Senate next year — have also said they would be willing to meet with Garland…

Separately, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Thursday he would agree to a meeting, though it wouldn’t change his position. He also spoke with Garland Wednesday.

Apart from REPUBS IN DISARRAY!, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the weekend?